Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wired for War

A new book by P.W. Singer looks in depth at the development of a robotic army. "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century" was published by Penguin this week. Singer is a Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. He also served as coordinator of the Obama campaign's defense policy task force. On January 22nd Singer was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air." He acknowledges that while lip service is given to keeping human decision makers in the loop, everyone recognizes that there are pressures towards increasing autonomy for battlefield robots.


Michael T. Merren said...

My greatest fear is that unmanned wars will be unfelt wars. We are so desensitized to the actual violence we see all around us because we are inundated by news of it from all sides that those incidents of violence become blurbs on the radar. I see potential for lives to be perceived as being pawns in the chess game, video games w/ better graphics fought from safe bunkers on territory where real people life and work and try to raise families... and the actual damage and collateral damage usually of unsuspecting and innocent bystanders will be the immediate repercussion and one not lived and felt by soldiers and the men behind the machines.

Wendell Wallach said...

The drive to build a robotic army is usually based upon the assumption that it will save the lives of human soldiers. However, in increasing the prospect of going to war it may lead to an increase in civilian casualties. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the military has paid much attention to insuring that these systems will have the intelligence to not target non-combatants. What is heartening about Michael's book is its expansion of the discussion about a robotic army, and whether this is truly a good idea.