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.
Singer’s previous books foretold the rise of private military contractors and the advent of child soldiers - predictions that have proved all too accurate. Now he explores the greatest revolution in military affairs since the atom bomb: robotic warfare.
We are now seeing a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make the stuff of I, Robot and The Terminator a reality. Over seven thousand robotic systems are now in Iraq; pilots in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan; scientists are debating just how smart - and lethal - to make their current prototypes; and many renowned science fiction authors are secretly consulting for the Pentagon.
Blending historic evidence with interviews from the field, Singer vividly shows that as these technologies multiply, they will have profound effects on both the front lines and the politics back home. Replacing men with machines may save some lives but will lower 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, the new technology will also bring war to our doorstep. As other nations and terrorist organizations obtain 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.
©2009 P. W. Singer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“This book is awesome.” (Jon Stewart, The Daily Show)
“P. W. Singer has written what is likely to be the definitive work on this subject for some time…It is riveting and comprehensive, encompassing every aspect of the rise of military robotics, from the historical to the ethical.” (Financial Times)
“Robotics promises to be the most comprehensive instrument of change in war since the introduction of gunpowder.” (Publishers Weekly)
I might have given this work four stars, if others hadn't. The author has done an enormous amount of valuable reporting and brought together a big picture of many critical technical issues affecting the future of war, focusing mainly but not exclusively on robotics. I share his pessimism about the trends, and appreciate his willingness to examine the moral issues from many different sides. His description of the "cubicle warriors" who now operated our growing drone fleets is very eye-opening. However, the book sprawls. Many sections might have been better at half the length. Some begin to sound like a laundry list of projects, machines, and acronyms. Themes repeat or overlap. No merciless editor sat at his elbow. For example, his analysis of how information technology allows generals to micromanage tactics at a distance is very interesting. But we get it. The section goes on, largely repeating the same idea and the word "micromanage" in various ways, while adding little. More seriously, I felt there was a missing level of analysis, though knowing little about the topic, I'm not sure what it is. There is, for example, little or nothing about the early use of computers and cybernetics, which become necessary for antiaircraft tracking. And little about the revolutionary effects of cell phones and laptops on guerilla war. Or on cyberwar, though that is perhaps a separate topic. The author is a war historian and journalist, and does not seem to be developing his ideas out of any underlying theory of technology or science. (American historians and journalists are largely trained to eschew "big theory.") I am not sure that he even clearly defines information theory, AI, and robotics as subsets of technology. One of the interesting scientific asides that never really goes anywhere is the battery as weak link, something every laptop user knows. He mentions it in the context of the Iraq War, but then does not really develop the implications. His coverage of media and "interface" technologies is weak. You can't do everything. But if human beings have a role in our new data-driven world, it really ought to be to reduce bins of information through critical abstraction, we need a few less colorful factoids and a little more theory.
This book is remarkably comprehensive, yet manages to stay fresh and compelling. The author makes every attempt to capture realistic snapshots of today's modern military and then speculates a bit into the future. The author makes a rather impressive effort to sort out all the issues that you and I don???t have any time to sort out yet ourselves. You will be impressed by what is already out there. You'll be captivated by the new frontiers for tech . You'll realize how much you didn't know. The author shares all that he found in his epic project. The only drawback to the book is that it???s difficult to walk away from it having any sense of finality about it. Perhaps the book suffers only from the same paradox it uncovers???.that the jury is still out???.that all this great technological power has yet to be made into a coherent part of our civilization.
Working for a robotic-oriented firm, and with peers moving into other robotic fields, I wanted to get at least a sense of the military aspect of robotics. Singer, however, gave me exactly what I wanted and so much more. The book is a history of robotics, technology in warfare, and military robotics. But it also delves into the legal, moral, and cultural issues around robotics and robotic warfare, and reveals the very real ties between the military and modern science fiction. The book is a view into our modern world, and into our future, in a surprising and compelling way. I was surprised by how avidly I wanted to listen to this book. I know I will listen again.
Mr. Singer’s Wired for War is a great book, but was clearly written from a far left-wing point of view. He goes out of his way to demine Bush, pro-lifers, and people with a conservative leaning point of view. It is unnecessary and off putting. He also has the view that we must make our enemy’s like and respect us. He did very good work and thorough research. Too bad he feels the need to needle half of the population while he did it.
It was very interesting and mind opening to think of where Robots and robotics will take us in the future, both in our private lives and in the Military and all the questions it will raise as to rights and wrongs as to their uses. It makes you look at things from a number of perspectives. I am looking forward to being around for part of it but wonder if I would like to be there for the rest.
This is an excellent and comprehensive book on robot technology for military applications. Covers all aspects of military robots, from the affect it has on individual soldiers to the concept of war in general. Excellent book but already a little out of date which is a testament to how quickly this technology is moving.
The narrator is OK but mispronounces some words, which is annoying but not a major problem. I feel that unless they really suck, all audio books should be read by their authors.
I didn't want to turn it off, it was interesting throughout.
Interesting view of the evolution of robotics and electronics.
From vacuum cleaner robots to IED demolition robots, from unmanned drones to totally unmanned warfare. Very thought provoking.
In many ways this book is very frightening. It is scary to know that a society that thinks of itself as being basically Christian spends so much of it's wealth on war. In an age where so much time and talk is given over to the question of "values," this book shines light on the fact that we, as a people, still do not have our basic human values in order. I believe that this book shows how we are desperately trying to win wars without having to bloody ourselves, and instead we are making it more gruesome, and someday the chickens will all come home to roost. Also, I believe that the author misappropriates the quote: "Hell is other people", to Nietzsche, rather than J.P. Sartre. Am I wrong? Perhaps they both said it at one time or another?
attractive overview on the subject of the military robotics. very much liked his chapter on strategies of using robots (swarm vs. mother ship)
The author tried to be very comprehensive. However, marine and ground robots are not as well covered as flying robots. It might be that they are not as developed.
Over all an excellent book to listen to.
First, I am not a military guy or a war monger. I simply wanted to learn. I was excited with the incredible technology being employed and its many applications. But I was also amazed at the consequences of our use of this new technology and the profound impact it has on us not just here, but throughout the world. The impact of these technological advancements not only changes our strategy for defense and war, but forces compelling questions of how we deal with this now and in the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed this rather lengthy book. But I also learned so very much. Singer did a masterful job in analyzing technology and war, top to bottom. I highly recommend this read.
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