Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

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Overview

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. More than twelve thousand robotic systems are now deployed in Iraq. Pilots sitting in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. And many renowned science fiction authors are quietly consulting for the Pentagon on the next generation of ...

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Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

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Overview

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. More than twelve thousand robotic systems are now deployed in Iraq. Pilots sitting in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. And many renowned science fiction authors are quietly consulting for the Pentagon on the next generation of robotic killers. 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. While his analysis is unnerving, there's an irresistible gee-whiz quality to the innovations Singer uncovers. In his hands, the future of war is as fascinating as it is frightening.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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. (Jan. 26)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Harpers
In his latest work, Wired for War, Singer confesses his passion for science fiction as he introduces us to a glimpse of things to come-the new technologies that will shape wars of the future. His new book addresses some ominous and little-discussed questions about the military, technology, and machinery.
Book Forum
Genuinely Provocative
The Armchair General
. . . Full of vignettes on the use of robotics, first-person interviews with end-users, what has occurred in the robotics industry in its support of the nation, and what is "coming soon." Some of the new ideas are just downright mind-blowing . . .
Military.com
Wired for War is a sprawling, eye-opening, important look at an evolving technology that promises to change the future in profound ways. Read it. Be prepared.
Kirkus Reviews
Battlefield robotics is transforming modern war and saving American lives, according to this enthusiastic account. Brookings Institution senior fellow Singer (Children at War, 2005, etc) begins with a history of the crude, radio-controlled unmanned vehicles and planes of World Wars I and II. Technology made quantum advances over the following decades, but resistance from military leaders hobbled development. Leading the opposition were U.S. Air Force generals, who took for granted that any respectable warplane had a pilot. By the '80s the logjam had broken, and the 1991 Gulf War saw the much-publicized use of "smart bombs" as well as unmanned drones buzzing over Iraqi positions to transmit their observations. America's 21st-century wars feature ingenious battlefield robots that peer around corners, search for the enemy in dangerous caves and inspect roadside bombs while their operators remain at a safe distance. Overhead, vastly improved drones search for suspicious activity and occasionally rain down destruction. The indefatigable author crisscrossed the country, interviewing engineers, soldiers, politicians and generals to deliver a vivid picture of the current controversies and dazzling possibilities of war in the digital age. As recent headlines on civilian deaths from American air attacks in Afghanistan reveal, many kinks remain to be ironed out. Tempering the optimism of the introductory chapters, Singer devotes much of his text to the flaws of these new devices and steep learning curve involved in employing them. He also reminds readers that even the most backward enemies possess a surprising ability to adapt. He points out what every thoughtful reader knows: Confronted bydevastating, high-tech American technology, Iraqi insurgents haven't scurried into oblivion, and the Taliban in Afghanistan are not retreating but advancing. An engrossing picture of a new class of weapon that may revolutionize future wars but has not greatly daunted our current opponents.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441765918
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 14
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

P. W. Singer is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the youngest person ever to hold that position. He'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.
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Table of Contents

Author's Note: Why a Book on Robots and War? 1

Pt. 1 The Change We Are Creating

1 Introduction: Scenes from a Robot War 19

2 Smart Bombs, Norma Jeane, and Defecating Ducks: A Short History of Robotics 42

3 Robotics for Dummies 66

4 To Infinity and Beyond: The Power of Exponential Trends 94

5 Coming Soon to a Battlefield Near You: The Next Wave of Warbots 109

6 Always in the Loop? The Arming and Autonomy of Robots 123

7 Robotic Gods: Our Machine Creators 135

8 What Inspires Them: Science Fiction's Impact on Science Reality 150

9 The Refuseniks: The Roboticists Who Just Say No 170

Pt. 2 What Change Is Creating for Us

10 The Big Cebrowski and the Real RMA: Thinking About Revolutionary Technologies 179

11 "Advanced" Warfare: How We Might Fight with Robots 205

12 Robots That Don't Like Apple Pi: How the U.S. Could Lose the Unmanned Revolution 237

13 Open-Source Warfare: College Kids, Terrorists, and Other New Users of Robots at War 261

14 Losers and Luddites: The Changing Battlefields Robots Will Fight On and the New Electronic Sparks of War 279

15 The Psychology of Warbots 297

16 YouTube War: The Public and Its Unmanned Wars 315

17 Changing the Experience of War and the Warrior 326

18 Command and Control ... Alt-Delete: New Technologies and Their Effect on Leadership 344

19 Who Let You in the War? Technology and the New Demographics of Conflict 360

20 Digitizing the Laws of War and Other Issues of (Un)Human Rights 382

21 A Robot Revolt? Talking About Robot Ethics 413

22 Conclusion: The Duality of Robots and Humans 428

Acknowledgments 437

Notes 439

Index 483

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Customer Reviews

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( 27 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 31, 2010

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    Amazing Book

    This book takes takes on the use of robots in our current military operations. It also brings up some issues, that are not being discussed, but should be. This is an awesome book it gives a great insight to how and where the robots are being used, and how and where they may be used in the future. There is no doubt that the use of these machines in all aspects of our lives will only increase, war being no exception. It is a slippery slope that we are sliding down.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2009

    Very good and clear exposition of the use of robots to assist and/or replace humans in war.

    Deals with the moral problems of killing someone that you can't see, a problem that field artillery has had to deal with since the 1400's but gets worse as we go on. Covers both sides of the question well. We kill but do not see those we do but we do not have to write letters home to mothers or wives. The other question that he handles well is the responsibility for a software glitch. The contractor, the operator, etc. Presents the real delemia that this may be the last generation of fighter pilots that will be in the planes. But despite this, he skirts Ferenbach's Law in that he admits that IED detectors will help but is not clear that we still need 18 year old kids on the ground to deal with people usually with a rifle and a bayonet, but I am old fashioned in that aspect.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2009

    An incredible book

    This is a book that law makers, anyone intersted in technology and sci-fi fans should read. The book deals with real world implications of the things to come or not. If we as a society are able to think ahead like we have for the human genome, nuclear weapons and biological weapon research then perhaps we can think ahead about the benefits and implications to the advanced technology that is coming. I found it to be an eye opener to many new things that have been around for a while and a glimpse into the future. If your into sci-fi and real future technological advancements then this book is for you. Beutifully written for anyone to understand and to be captivated in the subject. Great research and information for the scifi geek and any one interseted in Military advancements and how they have advanced our daily lives.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a freakin' awesome book!

    This is a freakin' awesome book! Singer, in this book on robotics and its use in the military, has just blown my mind. Reading about many of the things in this book seems like science fiction, yet it is all real. Robots that can stay in the air for over a day, robots that can act as sentry guards for army bases, robots that can see through walls, and even robots that can replace lost limbs; it is all in here. But what really blew my mind was not just the detailed accounts of these new technological innovations and their capabilities, but also the legal, ethical, and moral questions they raise for our generation. Singer doesn't just sit back in awe of these new toys, he asks the questions everyone should be asking: should we arm robots with lethal weapons? Should we bring robots' intelligence and autonomy to a level where they are indistinguishable from humans? Should autonomous robots have rights like a human? Who's responsible when an autonomous robot kills or injures someone? And should we build robots for sex? All these questions are explored. My only complaint is that Singer tends to wander off from his original topic in many of his chapters. Many times he starts with a good premise, but then wanders off into a different topic. Ultimately though, this one of the coolest, scariest, and most thought-provoking books I have read in a long time. READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 27, 2012

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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