French sci-fi team called on to predict future threats

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Anti-drone guns on show at Sunday's Bastille Day celebrationsImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
New anti-drone guns were on show at Sunday's Bastille Day celebrations

The French army is to create a "red team" of sci-fi writers to imagine possible future threats.

A new report by the Defence Innovation Agency (DIA) said the visionaries will "propose scenarios of disruption" that military strategists may not think of.

The team's highly confidential work will be important in the fight against "malicious elements", the report states.

It comes amid efforts by the French to innovate its approaches to defence.

An inventor piloted his jet-powered flyboard over crowds at Bastille Day military celebrations in Paris on Sunday.

Media caption,

Inventor Franky Zapata flies above the Bastille Day military celebrations

Tweeting after Franky Zapata stunned crowds, President Emmanuel Macron said: "Proud of our army, modern and innovative" with a video of the stunt.

Who are the 'red team'?

Comprised of just four or five sci-fi writers, the group will be expected to think more creatively than more traditional elements of the army.

Through role play and other techniques, the team will attempt to imagine how terrorist organisations or foreign states could use advanced technology.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said the country "holds all the aces in this race" for military innovation.

Also on display at the Bastille celebrations was the futuristic-looking Nerod F5 microwave jammer, a rifle-shaped weapon designed to target drones by blocking the pilot's signals.

There have even been plans for robots to support French troops in Mali, with experiments currently underway.

When sci-fi becomes reality

The Moon landing: Jules Verne's 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon depicted three people being sent to the Moon in a spacecraft from Florida - with some similarities to the actual mission 104 years later.

Video phones: The first example of a video phone appearing on screens was in the 1927 film Metropolis, although it was considerably larger than the devices we see today.

Atomic bomb: HG Wells predicted the atomic bomb in his 1914 novel The World Set Free - which featured "indefinitely" exploding bombs based on then-early atomic science.