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.
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.
. . . 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 . . .
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.
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.