Sunday, February 1, 2009

Wired For War

From The Armchair Generalist:

P.W. Singer has written a very interesting book in "Wired for War: The Robotic Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century." This is his third release in six years - impressive, considering the 438 pages of this tome. If you want a technical discussion and evaluation of the value of robots in war, this isn't the book for you. Instead, Singer takes a journey into the history of robotics, the military's past work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and sudden love affair with robotics after 2003, the pros and cons of using robots in combat operations, and what the future might show.

Singer's success in this book is how he has addressed the social, technical, military, and ethical aspects of the robot revolution. It is a relatively recent technical explosion of activity, but as Singer shows, the social impact of robotics go back decades. Still, the desire to use unmanned systems to augment and replace human frailties has been strong, especially in warfare. The more recent advances in robotics, added to military concepts of operation in urban areas and social comfort with electronics, has led to a Revolution in Military Affairs - of sorts. We may not be there completely.

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