Wired for War - autonomous and unmanned warfighting

The Robots are Coming!

Not quite, but this book by Dr PW Singer is a fascinating insight into the way in which autonomous and unmanned warfighting machines are coming to the fore. It's quite long - takes a few weeks to read (or about a week solid on the train if you commute!) but takes you through the evolution of military technology and robotics.

It's written from a fairly US perspective but does reference stuff going on in the UK, Israel and other nations.

First half: how it all started, for example the story of the robotic hoover manufacturer who ended up making IED finding robots and the development of drones etc

Second half (and probably more interesting): the way in which such systems are affecting the conduct of war and the types of people involved. Goes into some of the complex issues around the status of combatants and civilians (for example the soldiers in Nevada "piloting" the drones are combatants, but the civilian support staff in theatre repairing and refuelling / rearming them are not - or are they...)

Finally finishes by touching on the legal and moral issues around autonomous systems and "firing the first shot" - who's accountable for when it goes wrong, potential war crimes and so on.

An interesting and provoking read, should appeal to both the technologists and also those interested in the people aspects of the future of warfighting.

Mr Happy

thanks for the post.

I imagine that the first shot argument is particularly important around the (armed) sentry robots they've been trialing where civvie kids run up, chuck a blanket over the robot and then F-off so that Johnny Jihad pops around the corner and takes out the sentry system with an RPG or just even just a G.

Shooting to defend a piece of electronics? Lethal force justified? Probably not, but that it is defending troops probably, but do you want to drop a 5 year old for having a blanket???

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