The United States will have agile, stealthy, fast, and powerful unmanned aircraft. It's hard to say exactly when, but soon, perhaps in our next major conflict (North Korea?). We will be able to deliver lethal force (eg. bombs that kill people, blow them into bloody bits, maim them and leave their half-bodies strewn around a field of wreckage) without deploying troops on the ground or risking our soldiers' lives at all. That's incredibly scary to me, not because of any ridiculous fantasy of robots going awry and turning on us. It terrifies me because it gives us carte blanche to wreak havok on the world. We'll be able to quickly send drones anywhere in the world, transported on aircraft carriers, without even consulting the public or congress; there will be no reporters around, so all the information released will be from our military, so they can spin it however they want or keep it totally quiet, and worst of all, because there is no risk to average American soldiers, the American people just won't care. The average American seems to care very little about the lives of anyone else in the world. Cotton subsidies are contributing to the starvation of millions of Africans? eh, fuck'em, my brother the Cotton farmer wants to buy a new Dodge Ram and he needs that subsidy. Vietnam war killed 2 million Vietnamese? fuck'em, gooks, it's their own fault for messing with the US; the reason we left is because of the deaths of the US soldiers. The American public doesn't seem to care about death and depravation in the world unless it happens to someone they knew. If we can go into countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, where our government has certain interests that they think can best be acheived with force (but we really shouldn't be there, and certainly the American public wouldn't support it if people were dying), then we'll do it all the time, and it won't even be a big issue. Good lord, that's scary. I believe that the American Empire will decay over the next 100 years, but in that period it will first become even more powerful and horrible.
The Nova on UAV's was really funny. It started with some interesting background info on U2's and satellites and such. Then it gets to the UAV's, and you get all these scenes of serious military guys who are talking about model airplanes. They're using all these military acronyms and such to talk about a little balsa wood plane that someone put together in their garage - and, I'm sure Lockheed or someone charged them $5 million for that model airplane.