Army of None

Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War
Narrated by: Roger Wayne
Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (368 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Paul Scharre, a Pentagon defense expert and former U.S. Army Ranger, explores what it would mean to give machines authority over the ultimate decision of life or death. Scharre's far-ranging investigation examines the emergence of autonomous weapons, the movement to ban them, and the legal and ethical issues surrounding their use. He spotlights artificial intelligence in military technology, spanning decades of innovation from German noise-seeking Wren torpedoes in World War II - antecedents of today's homing missiles - to autonomous cyber weapons, submarine-hunting robot ships, and robot tank armies.

Through interviews with defense experts, ethicists, psychologists, and activists, Scharre surveys what challenges might face "centaur warfighters" on future battlefields, which will combine human and machine cognition. We've made tremendous technological progress in the past few decades, but we have also glimpsed the terrifying mishaps that can result from complex automated systems - such as when advanced F-22 fighter jets experienced a computer meltdown the first time they flew over the International Date Line.

©2018 Paul Scharre (P)2018 Tantor
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Robots, weapons, and AI oh my!

This book was an excellent place to start for someone just getting into the whole autonomous weapon and AI discussion. The book is well researched and organized. It draws upon historical examples as well as current policies and issues. The bottom line is that this discussion is critical and Paul Scharre has made a significant contribution to the conversation. I have a much better idea of the murky way ahead, a little less dread of "skynet", and a little more hope for the better angels of humanity. But there will be those who use autonomous weapons, however defined, for nefarious purposes and this book offers some excellent options to counter that. Paul Scharre writes well and offers all sides of the discussion. His work should be read by any and all looking to better understand autonomy in war.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent content, passable perfomance.

The content is excellent and makes this book a worthy successor to Wired for War. Otherwise good narration is undermined by stilted affectation of women's voices. The narrator would be better served to read quotes from women in his own voice and not attempt to affect a higher octave.

6 people found this helpful

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The book is better than the performance

The book is a thoughtful and thorough discussion of both the technology and the implications of autonomous systems. It’s worth a listen, despite the performer. He not only doesn’t understand the concept of acronyms (it’s “SAC,” pronounced “sack,” not “S-A-C”), but occasionally has weird pronunciations for non-acronyms (it’s “USS Vincennes,” not “Voncennes”).

3 people found this helpful

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interesting book, that flounders at the end

This is a decent read on automated weaponry kw and in the near future . It has interesting information and weapons, AI, and how they are moving forward in a new area of ethics for warfare. The book and audio book each have some shortcomings. The book doesn't know when to end. The last 2 chapters on ethics and the conclusion all say the same things over and over. I thought it was repeating a chapter. The voice performance is interesting. The author is a former special forces soldier, and the narrator at times randomly talks like he's in a commercial for "tactical flashlight" on late night TV, and at others uses a bizarre "feminine" voice when quoting female researchers. Normally one doesn't "act out " the quotes in a policy book. It also wasn't done consistently, which made it even more distracting when it kicks in.

1 person found this helpful

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Mostly extremely interesting!

The first three quarters of this book is extremely interesting, cutting edge and informative on upcoming military technology, addressing the challenges and pitfalls of autonomy. The last quarter bogs down in constant repetition of the ethical nuances of decision making.

1 person found this helpful

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Informative on a Narrow Subject

The book presented the current thoughts of a variety of professions on the future of autonomous military machines, and autonomous machines in general.

I found the passing philosophy clueless, further reaffirming my observation that humans are still universally clueless, but that is besides the point (though it was the reason I picked up the book, to further test that observation).

2 people found this helpful

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End was a bit forced

really good book and insightful. But the ending seem to be a bit forced. It kept. Trying to extend the storyline.

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Fascinating but kind of frightening too...

I found this book on Bill Gates' 2018 book list, and it was fascinating but kind of frightening too! Most of the book provides a deep dive on current / cutting edge / future military technology, and explores the evolution and inevitability of more and more autonomous weaponry. Obviously, autonomy creates some ethical conundrums that deserve careful thought, but as many reviews agree, the book doesn't do as good of a job covering these at the end of the book, but I would not deter you from learning a lot on this topic. Skip the end of the book, if you want, but don't skip the rest.

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Thought a bit may have been reading it..

Decent book, but narration rife with mispronunciations.. should have hired an actual veteran or security expert!

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Hey, I quoted in the book.

Cool, I am the former Army officer quoted as “One CRAM operator described....” in the centaur chapter. As someone who as also thought a lot about these issues and had experience with an autonomous weapon system I thought the book hit all the main points. It was also extremely well written.