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"My feeling is that the chance of our surviving into the twenty-first century as working civilization is less than fifty percent but greater than zero."
- Isaac Asimov

Pseudo-Insects (Synsects)  
  A swarm of self-guided, programmed microarmies.  

The Upside-Down Evolution.

"[with] The rising cost for heavy weaponry and the falling curve of cost for artificial intelligence - came the "unhumanization" of the military....Armies began to change from living to nonliving forces.....The competition between the old and the new weapons was brief: massive, armored equipment could not withstand the attacks of the microarmies.....Amid a swarm of self-guided, programmed microarms, a man in uniform was as helpless as a Roman legionary with sword against a hail of bullets. In the face of special types of biotropic microarms capable of destroying everything that lived, humans beings had no choice but to abandon the battlefield, for they would be killed in seconds..... The new weapon makers again borrowed from the biosphere - from plants, bacteria, and insects.... The nonliving weapon might imitate (extremely well) floating dust specks or pollen, or gnats, or drops of water. But under that mask lay a corrosive or lethal agent...... Some of the pseudo-insects could pierce the human body like bullets; others could form optical systems to throw sunlight over wide areas, altering the temperature of large air masses so as to produce heavy rainfall or fair weather, according to the needs of the campaign. There existed ‘meteorological insects’ corresponding to nothing we know today. The endothermic ‘synsects,’ for example, absorbed large quantities of energy for the sole purpose of causing a sudden drop in temperature over a given area, resulting in a thick fog or the phenomenon known as an inversion......then there were synsects able to concentrate themselves into a single-use laser beamer.....

The microarmies developed in two stages. In the first stage, the unhumaned microweapons were still designed and built by people. In the second stage, microsoldiers were designed, combat-tested, and sent to be mass produced by "construction battalions" of nonliving microdesigners.....A phenomenon known as "sociointegrative degeneration" displaced humans first from the military and later from the weapons industry....A greater role, then, was assumed by the pseudo-sociointegrative collective of microsoldiers. Each nonliving army was incomparably more complex than a beehive or an anthill. In internal structure and interrelationships it was more akin to an ecological unit in nature......

Meanwhile, in addition to computer rule, which was gradually replacing natural, human rule, there appeared certain phenomenon that once would have been called natural; but now no one knew by what or by whom they were caused, if indeed they were caused by anything or anyone at all. Acid rain had been known in the 20th Century. But now there were rains so corrosive that they destroyed roads, power lines, and factory roofs, and it was impossible to determine whether they were caused by pollution or by enemy sabotage. It was that way with everything. Livestock were stricken - but was the disease natural or artificial? The hurricane that ravaged the coast - was it a chance thing, or was it engineered by by an invisible swarm of micrometeorological agents, each as small as a virus, covertly diverting ocean air masses?....

Blurred also was the distinction between real and spurious hostilities. In order to turn it's people against another nation, a country would produce on it's own territory "natural" catastrophes so obviously artificial that it's citizens were bound to believe the charge that the enemy was responsible......Thus peace was war, and war peace."

Technovelgy from One Human Minute, by Stanislaw Lem.
Published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1984
Additional resources -

Compare to the scarab robot flying insect from The Scarab (1936) by Raymond Z. Gallun, the infiltrators from Vulcan's Hammer (1960) by Philip K. Dick an the commercial fly from The Simulacra (1964) by Philip K. Dick.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from One Human Minute
  More Ideas and Technology by Stanislaw Lem
  Tech news articles related to One Human Minute
  Tech news articles related to works by Stanislaw Lem

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