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Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Centuryby P W Singer
"Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century is illuminating, if only because we encounter the full array of military gizmos, their links to science fiction and history, and the debates about these machines that are playing out at the Pentagon and in hotel conference rooms. Yet the book will disappoint readers less interested in contraptions than in the soldiers who use them. The tension and anxieties wrought by this revolution deserve more attention here." Ian Shapira, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
Synopses & Reviews
A military expert reveals how science fiction is fast becoming reality on the battlefield, changing not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and ethics that surround war itself
P. W. Singer?s previous two books foretold the rise of private military contractors and the advent of child soldiers? predictions that proved all too accurate. Now, he explores the greatest revolution in military affairs since the atom bomb?the advent of robotic warfare.
We are just beginning to see a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make the stuff of I,Robot and the Terminator all too real. More than seven- thousand robotic systems are now in Iraq. Pilots in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. Scientists are debating just how smart?and how lethal?to make their current robotic prototypes. And many of the most renowned science fiction authors are secretly consulting for the Pentagon on the next generation.
Blending historic evidence with interviews from the field, Singer vividly shows that as these technologies multiply, they will have profound effects on the front lines as well as on the politics back home. Moving humans off the battlefield makes wars easier to start, but more complex to fight. Replacing men with machines may save some lives, but will lower the morale and psychological barriers to killing. The ?warrior ethos,? which has long defined soldiers? identity, will erode, as will the laws of war that have governed military conflict for generations.
Paradoxically, these new technologies will also bring war to our doorstep. As other nations and even terrorist organizations start to build or buy their own robotic weapons, the robot revolution could undermine America?s military preeminence. While his analysis is unnerving, there?s an irresistible gee-whiz quality to the innovations Singer uncovers. Wired for War travels from Iraq to see these robots in combat to the latter-day ?skunk works? in America?s suburbia, where tomorrow?s technologies of war are quietly being designed. In Singer?s hands, the future of war is as fascinating as it is frightening.
"Brookings Institute fellow Singer (Children at War) believes that 'we resist trying to research and understand change' in the making of war. Robotics promises to be the most comprehensive instrument of change in war since the introduction of gunpowder. Beginning with a brief and useful survey of robotics, Singer discusses its military applications during WWII, the arming and autonomy of robots at the turn of the century, and the broad influence of robotics on near-future battlefields. How, for example, can rules of engagement for unmanned autonomous machines be created and enforced? Can an artificial intelligence commit a war crime? Arguably more significant is Singer's provocative case that war itself will be redefined as technology creates increasing physical and emotional distance from combat. As robotics diminishes war's risks the technology diminishes as well the higher purposes traditionally used to justify it. Might that reduce humanity's propensity for war making? Or will robotics make war less humane by making it less human? Singer has more questions than answers — but it is difficult to challenge his concluding admonition to question and study the technologies of military robotics — while the chance remains." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The future of U.S. warfare and military intervention is upon us, and it seems to lie in getting rid of, or at least minimizing the role of, the flesh-and-blood warrior. P.W. Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is fascinated with warfare's evolution. Having already written "Corporate Warriors," a book on military contractors, he now examines the souped-up world of military robots and... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) related technology. We learn about robots that defuse roadside bombs, unmanned aerial vehicles conducting strikes in Iraq but operated by Navy pilots sitting in Nevada, and nonlethal weapons that emit sound waves so powerful that they cause enemies to defecate on themselves. In the future, we can look forward to robot-warriors that can run four-minute miles for five hours; robot-snipers that never miss; and, most alarming, in what might make readers most squeamish, robots programmed to make kill-decisions on their own. "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century" is illuminating, if only because we encounter the full array of military gizmos, their links to science fiction and history, and the debates about these machines that are playing out at the Pentagon and in hotel conference rooms. Yet the book will disappoint readers less interested in contraptions than in the soldiers who use them. The tension and anxieties wrought by this revolution deserve more attention here. One feels ambivalent at the end of "Wired for War," and that's a good thing. It's not as if the United States can afford to stop funding this kind of technological research; other countries are racing to improve their own killing machines, too. But one can't help wishing that a fraction of all the money spent on robot-making went instead to re-building infrastructures in poor or war-torn nations. By the book's end, Singer's zeal for robots seems tempered: "There is inherent sadness in the fact that war remains one of those things that humankind is especially good at. ... Sadly, our machines may not be the only thing wired for war." Reviewed by Ian Shapira, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"riveting and comprehensive, encompassing every aspect of the rise of military robotics." --Financial Times
In Wired for War, P. W. Singer explores the great­est revolution in military affairs since the atom bomb: the dawn of robotic warfare. We are on the cusp of a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make real the stuff of I, Robot and The Terminator. Blending historical evidence with interviews of an amaz­ing cast of characters, Singer shows how technology is changing not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and the ethics that surround war itself. Traveling from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to modern-day "skunk works" in the midst of suburbia, Wired for War will tantalize a wide readership, from military buffs to policy wonks to gearheads.
About the Author
P. W. Singer is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the youngest person ever to hold that position. H‛s consulted for the department of defense and State, the CIA, and Congress. He has also appeared on 60 Minutes and the Today Show, among other programs, and written for publications such as The New York Times and Foreign Affairs.
Table of Contents
Wired For War Author's Note: Why a Book on Robots and War?
Part One: The Change We Are Creating
1. Introduction: Scenes from a Robot War
2. Smart Bombs, Norma Jeane, and Defecating Ducks: A Short History of Robotics
3. Robotics for Dummies
4. To Infinity and Beyond: The Power of Exponential Trends
5. Coming Soon to a Battlefield Near You: The Next Wave of Warbots
6. Always in the Loop? The Arming and Autonomy of Robots
7. Robotic Gods: Our Machine Creators
8. What Inspires Them: Science Fiction's Impact on Science Reality
9. The Refuseniks: The Roboticists Who Just Say No
Part Two: What Change Is Creating For Us
10. The Big Cebrowski and the Real RMA: Thinking About Revolutionary Technologies
11. "Advanced" Warfare: How We Might Fight with Robots
12. Robots That Don't Like Apple Pi: How the U.S. Could Lose the Unmanned Revolution
13. Open-Source Warfare: College Kids, Terrorists, and Other New Users of Robots at War
14. Losers and Luddites: The Changing Battlefields Robots Will Fight On and the New Electronic Sparks of War
15. The Psychology of Warbots
16. YouTube War: The Public and Its Unmanned Wars
17. Changing the Experience of War and the Warrior
18. Command and Control . . . Alt-Delete: New Technologies and Their Effect on Leadership
19. Who Let You in the War? Technology and the New Demographics of Conflict
20. Digitizing the Laws of War and Other Issues of (Un)Human Rights
21. A Robot Revolt? Talking About Robot Ethics
22. Conclusion: The Duality of Robots and Humans
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