The aliens being so humanlike strikes me as a big nasty dagger on the mantle. Humanoid aliens are unlikely; almost entirely humanlike aliens are insanely unlikely. I know this is going to sound like an arbitrary convention, but if you have human-like "aliens" in a science fiction story, there should be a very good reason that they're so human-like.
(Think: could the whole thing actually be a ploy by the AI, trying to prevent the development of an AI that might compete with it? Could the "alien" fleet actually be a human fleet from a few decades down the road, who used an FTL drive to travel back in time in order to grandfather their AI overlords out of existance? I know both ideas are kind of lame, but there is potentially a huge plot element there.)
Approx. 50 years ago, the aliens were on the edge of a Singularity. One of their nascent AI's gained full sentience and began rapidly improving itself. It managed to manipulate the staff of the laboratory it was housed in into providing it access to a nano-assembler swarm and from there it began rapidly expanding its own hardware and rapidly inventing new technology from which it began to attempt a conquest of the planet.
Nano-assembler swarms are hideously impractical, and rather cliche. Macroscopic Von Neumann machines would probably be better; also, if the AI turned out to be part of a project for producing sentient, self-replicating machines, there could be more plot potential there.
The overall mood of humanity dips to a depression, as its dreams of technological utopia are stymied and from the discovery that the aliens are disappointingly similar to themselves.
That sounds kind of poorly thought out. First of all, there's no particular reason that strong AIs would be necessary for a society to advance beyond a certain point, in spite of what people in Singularitarian circles say. And again: why are the aliens so humanlike?
IBM’s Blue Brain project successfully simulates a cat brain. Extremely intriguing patterns are observed but no useful results are obtained. The AI puzzle remains unsolved but Moore’s law holds steady.
Moore's law shouldn't hold steady. We're already past the point where it stopped being true, and it was never a real "law".
Breakthrough. A revolutionary computer program at MIT designs an entirely new computational substrate orders of magnitude faster than the best current ones. Large-scale panic as many believe this is the dawn of the Singularity. However, when the program is applied to a supercomputer based on the new substrate, it fails to produce an even better substrate. This is hailed as a sign that one of the key premises of the Singularity – that sufficiently powerful computers will be able to improve themselves – is flawed.
Hurray for breaking out of the typical Singularity formula!
No, seriously - even with strong AIs, there's no way that you'd have machines automagically creating massively better architectures for themselves. Yes, I know there are self-modifying processors already being made - but this is quite different, and I strongly doubt that scientists would actually try to rely on the improved computers to invent better computers. Especially given that the improved computers still aren't running strong AIs.
New technological breakthroughs in this year include 80% efficient solar panels and an extremely cheap process for producing them, design of a reusable orbital scramjet shuttle, nanoarmor that can withstand sustained assault rifle fire and much more.
Invent better armor and someone will invent a better gun. Just a reminder.
First manned mission to the moon since the Apollo project is achieved with 1/100th of the former’s cost using a scramjet to break into orbit and a solar sail to get to the moon. Ambitious plans call for a permanent moon colony by 2020.
Lightsails accelerate *slowly*. Using one to get to the moon doesn't strike me as very practical, though I'm no engineer; I would think them better for much longer voyages.
A new non-invasive neural interface is invented that only requires the user to shave their head. It is immediately incorporated into other technology such as VR, Augmented Reality, prosthetics and the operation of machinery.
Sorry, you have been beaten to the punch by... Arthur C. Clarke!
Don't worry, I just find it kind of funny that, for all the high-tech stuff floating around, non-invasive neural interfaces can't get past a centimeter of hair. This might be perfectly realistic for all I know though... Carry on.
The War begins with the most dramatic campaign of shock and awe seen in human history. Over 1 million combat drones are delivered into strategic areas of UIA territory via mass driver launch from the US and Israel. The new combat drones are controlled by neural uplinks, and form battle groups of 3 drones to 1 human controller. They consist of a shallow disk the size of a trashcan lid with a single assault rifle blister embedded in the surface. Suicide drones are used for the destruction of building and vehicles. The drones maneuver using an array of thousands of nanorotors mounted along the edges.
Ouch ouch ouch. Nanorotors for moving macroscopic drones = bad. Also, they'd face some serious problems with stairs.
The USA can afford to continuously manufacture drones to keep the numbers in the millions, compensating for any malfunctions or losses. The drones prove impervious to small arms fire but can be taken out by heavier rounds, RPGS and artillery. Within 1 week drones are in control of Damascus, Aleppo, Riyadh and are pushing into Karachi and Islamabad. Most UIA military installations, airborne assets and armored divisions have been destroyed with railgun artillery, sorties from aircraft carriers and smart bombs. The first human troops begin to enter the UIA to secure the areas held by drones.
Nobody figures out a way to jam the control signals for the drones? Sorry, it just seems like a logical development, and this war seems too good to be true - keep in mind that Hezbollah has UAVs, so the UIA having their own drones isn't so terribly unlikely.
In a desperate bid to stave off the blitz, UIA forces begin using tactical nuclear weapons on their own cities occupied by drones and on Israel. ABM systems manage to destroy 90% of the missiles aimed at Israel, but several strike Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv resulting in nearly a million deaths. Large sections of Karachi and Riyadh are devastated. A US carrier group’s defenses are overwhelmed by a sustained barrage of supersonic nuclear missiles and the carrier is destroyed. The US responds with aggressive use of its own tactical nuclear weapons, but not on civilians. All remaining UIA troop concentrations and military bases are annihilated. Within 3 weeks remaining UIA forces are reduced to blending in with civilians and begin using guerilla tactics.
First: why would anyone use nukes on a carrier?
Second: it is rather difficult to use nukes without hitting civilians hard. There is a reason they are called "weapons of mass destruction".
Also remember that nukes are a two-edged sword. You dump that much crap into the atmosphere, the weather gets messed up and crop failures occur. A good nuclear exchange could screw half the planet.
Computers are designing over 25% of new inventions, but for the first time, Moore’s law stagnates slightly.
Computers inventing things without strong AI? 25% of new inventions, no less? Maybe I'm not qualfied to give my opinion on this, but I do not see it happening.
(Again, Moore's law is already obsolete.)
The issue of emerging technologies that can make post-humanity a reality rises to saliency. Democratic and Republican parties begin to disintegrate. Some liberals see transhumanism as violating the ideal of human equality, the religious right sees it as a perversion.
Just a thought: I'd like to know how the socialists handle transhumanism. It might get interesting.