Sunday, February 8, 2009

Military Robots And The Laws of War

From The New Atlantis:

More than just conventional wisdom, it has become almost a cliché to say that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have proved “how technology doesn’t have a big place in any doctrine of future war,” as one security analyst told me in 2007. The American military efforts in those countries (or so the thinking goes) have dispelled the understanding of technology-dominated warfare that was prevalent just a few years ago—the notion that modern armed conflict would be fundamentally changed in the age of computers and networks.

It is true that Afghanistan and Iraq have done much to puncture that understanding of war. The vaunted theory, so beloved in the Rumsfeld-era Pentagon, of a “network-centric” revolution in military affairs can now be seen more clearly as a byproduct of the 1990s dotcom boom. The Internet has certainly affected how people shop, communicate, and date. Amid this ecstatic hype, it is not surprising that many security studies experts, both in and out of the defense establishment, latched onto the notion that linking up all our systems via electronic networks would “lift the fog of war,” allow war to be done on the cheap, and even allow the United States to “lock out” competition from the marketplace of war, much as they saw Microsoft doing to Apple at the time.

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