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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

What members say

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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”).

2 of 2 people found this review 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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 09-29-18

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 of 1 people found this review 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 of 3 people found this review helpful