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Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century 0th Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Brookings Institute fellow Singer (Children at War) believes that we resist trying to research and understand change in the making of war. Robotics promises to be the most comprehensive instrument of change in war since the introduction of gunpowder. Beginning with a brief and useful survey of robotics, Singer discusses its military applications during WWII, the arming and autonomy of robots at the turn of the century, and the broad influence of robotics on near-future battlefields. How, for example, can rules of engagement for unmanned autonomous machines be created and enforced? Can an artificial intelligence commit a war crime? Arguably more significant is Singers provocative case that war itself will be redefined as technology creates increasing physical and emotional distance from combat. As robotics diminishes wars risks the technology diminishes as well the higher purposes traditionally used to justify it. Might that reduce humanitys propensity for war making? Or will robotics make war less humane by making it less human? Singer has more questions than answers—but it is difficult to challenge his concluding admonition to question and study the technologies of military robotics—while the chance remains. (Jan. 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“PW Singer. . .has written what is likely to be the definitive work on this subject for some time to come. He has a record of drawing out the underlying trends in modern warfare, with previous books on child soldiers and the increasing use of mercenaries. Wired for War will confirm his reputation: it is riveting and comprehensive, encompassing every aspect of the rise of military robotics, from the historical to the ethical.”
— Financial Times
“A riveting, important book . . . Singer, at age 29 the youngest scholar named a senior fellow to the Brookings Institute, put four years into writing Wired for War. It is the only book in my reading experience that quotes Immanuel Kant and Biggie Smalls with equal enthusiasm. The resulting book is an intoxicating, encyclopedic trip - made intensely readable by all the colorful characters Singer salts along this story. . . . I will be shelving my copy next to two other books that remade my world view: Tracy Kidder's The Soul of the New Machine and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.”
— Karen Long, book editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer
“P. W. Singer has fashioned a definitive text on the future of war around the subject of robots. In no previous book have I gotten such an intrinsic sense of what the military future will be like.”
— Robert D. Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground
“Singer's book is as important (very) as it is readable (highly), as much a fascinating account of new technology as it is a challenging appraisal of the strategic, political and ethical questions that we must now face. This book needs to be widely read -- not just within the defense community but by anyone interested in the most fundamental questions of how our society and others will look at war itself.”
—Anthony Lake, former U.S. National Security Advisor and Professor of Diplomacy , School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
“Drawing from sources spanning popular culture and hard science, Singer reveals how the relationship between man and robot is changing the very nature of war. He details technology that has, until now, been the stuff of science fiction: lethal machines that can walk on water or hover outside windows, machines joined in networks or thinking for themselves. I found this book fascinating, deep, entertaining, and frightening.”
— Howard Gordon, writer and executive producer of 24, The X-Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Lively, penetrating, and wise ... A warmly human (even humorous) account of robotics and other military technologies that focuses where it should: on us."
—Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy and Director, National Semiconductor Corporation
“Will wars someday be fought by Terminator-like machines? In this provocative and entertaining new book, one of our brightest young strategic thinkers suggests the answer may well be “yes.” Singer’s sprightly survey of robotics technology takes the reader from battlefields and cutting-edge research labs to the dreams of science fiction writers. In the process, he forces us to grapple with the strategic and ethical implications of the “new new thing” in war.”
—Max Boot, Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; author of The Savage Wars of Peace and War Made New
“Weaving together immaculate academic research with a fan boy’s lexicon of popular culture, Singer looks at the people and technologies beta-testing tomorrow's wars today. The result is a book both hilarious and hair-raising that poses profound ethical questions about the creation and use of ever more powerful killing machines.”
—Gideon Yago, writer, MTV News
“Blew my f***ing mind…This book is awesome.”
—John Stewart, The Daily Show
"A superb book…If you read Wired for War you'll actually get a sense for the complexities that we are creating. We're not making a simpler world with these robots I don't think at all, I think we're making a more complex world, and that is something I got from this great book.
—General James Mattis, USMC, NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation and the Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command
"In his latest work, Wired for War, Singer confesses his passion for science fiction as he introduces us to a glimpse of things to come–the new technologies that will shape wars of the future. His new book addresses some ominous and little-discussed questions about the military, technology, and machinery."
"...A vivid picture of the current controversies and dazzling possibilities of war in the digital age."
— Book Forum
"…Full of vignettes on the use of robotics, first-person interviews with end- users, what has occurred in the robotics industry in its support of the nation, and what is "coming soon." Some of the new ideas are just downright mind-blowing..."
—The Armchair General
"An admitted war geek, P.W. Singer obsesses—over the course of 400-plus pages— about the growing role of robots in combat. His tone is oddly jovial considering the unsettling subject matter, but you won't find a more comprehensive look at mechanized death outside science fiction."
"If you want the whole story of remote warfare, pick up a copy of Wired for War, in which Peter Singer, a fellow of the non-profit Brookings Institution in Washington DC, exhaustively documents the Pentagon's penchant for robotics. Think of it as the next step in the mechanisation of war: swords and arrows, guns, artillery, rockets, bombers, robots."
— The New Scientist
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Top customer reviews
State actors, such as Russia, China, and Iran are quite capable of destroying our surveillance, GPS and communications satellites in short order. Airborne networks can be jammed, shot down, and have limited range and endurance. EMP weapons need not even involve nukes and can be precisely targeted. Singer never deals with this.
I must confess I did not find the book very entertaining and pretty much scanned the thing looking for anything interesting. I never found it. I sure as hell hope this guy is not advising our military.
Next is that some sections feels like they were just taken from Company Brochures or Press Releases with their exaggerated claims and then pasted on the book without processing or analyzing the details. After a while it all just gets a bit tiresome to read. Sorry but I just didn't find this book to be a good read overall, hence I can't recommend it to others out there also.
You would be forgiven for mistaking Singer's work for an exciting science fiction novel about the possibilities of warfare in the distant future. Sure, the book includes examination of laser-weapons, microwave-ray guns, and the "singularity" that would result from man's eventual inferiority to his creations. Alas, for better or worse, you'll find the book in the non-fiction section of your library (if those haven't been digitized and relegated to the Stone Age already). The text holds its eminent readability while describing, in detail, the latest advancements in military technology. He takes us through centuries of development, pointing out how each new form changed the rules of warfare. Due to its relatively exhaustive review of warfare equipment technology leaps, the book delivers quite a history lesson throughout. We read about how bows and arrows, cannons, and airplanes have changed war's practitioners' strategies, and are asked to ponder the ethical implications of such developments. We're led to believe that at each of these advancements, man is more and more separated from the act of war. But only in the most recent developments has man literally passed the dirty work onto other "beings," thus dramatically changing the identity of soldiers and warriors.
While Singer does a good join providing the backdrop, the real genius in his book lies in its overview of more recent technology. That technology, developed in response to various global threats, has become increasingly robotic as the decades have passed. The author notes that in 1999, there were nine companies doing homeland security work for the feds. By 2006 there were more than 30,000. And more and more of this work was on autonomous machines that required less and less human engagement. As the United States has become involved in wars in the Middle East, its incentives to use such systems has grown. Sending in "unmanned aerial vehicles" to do surveillance and attacks reduces the risks to American lives. As wars have become more and more visible to constituents, any chance to make war less personal seems to be worth pursuing. Thus we end up in a system where we train more people to fly drones than we train fighter pilots. These drone pilots are able to lead their missions from many thousands of miles away, in places like Nevada, where they are able to return to their families after a day at war.
Robots, the author contends, have become such an integral part of our military that they have completely transformed it. The ability of small groups to make use of advancements in communications technology, for instance, has led to the "loss of the state's roughly 400-year-old monopoly over which groups could go to war." All of a sudden, rogue terrorists are able to strike fear into entire nations, and countries begin declaring war on non-entities. Robots enable us to transmit information at the speed of light, and offer us limitless capabilities. But they are not perfect. The author cites the apple and tomato test--it is found that little kids are much better at determining which of two is an apple and which is a tomato, while machines struggle mightily. They lack some fundamental human judgment.
I generally rate books by their ability to force me to consider my world anew. This book does that. With all of these new technologies come pressing, sometimes intractable, questions. As we are able to use "directed energy" weapons, whereby we can "neutralize" targets with microwave or other waves, we must consider how the weapons fit into our military complex. A drone doesn't have feelings, doesn't get tired, and cannot make a human judgment. How do you attribute accountability when something goes wrong? The author posits these questions, while leaving the answers open. If a robot mistakenly kills a civilian, who is held responsible? The commanding officer? Which one? The one on site or the one controlling it back stateside? The maker of the machine? The policy makers who choose to use this new and still imperfect technology? These questions have yet to be answered. The author quotes Isaac Asimov: "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."
Wired for War is an excellent read for anyone who is interested in science, technology, politics, war, or the future of our world. Its exposition of the wide array of new war-related technologies and their applications will leave you fascinated by brainy scientists in Boston, concerned about public servants who have to draw up legislation to deal with newfangled technologies, and deeply worried about possibly abuses of such technologies should they end up in the wrong hands. If you liked The Terminator or Minority Report, you'll enjoy this book. If you were a War of the Worlds reader, this book might echo its sentiments.
While the author admits to a long-held interest in and fascination with war, the overall tone is one of extremely cautious awe of man's newfound capacities. Although advances in war products and legal frameworks allow him to make profitable analyses, Singer represents humanity's uneasy acceptance of such new methods into our world. Singer aptly quotes another well-known military-oriented pragmatic pacifist, President Dwight D. Eisenhower: "The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children." As we march toward a world of ever-more-complicated armaments, and ever-more powerful and interconnected computers, humanity must realize that such advancements have a trade-off. It's up to wise minds to determine where to draw the line, and how to enforce adherence to totally novel conundrums. Considering so-called Moore's law, which suggests that computers' abilities double every couple years, we need to make these adaptations quickly. It is equally important to maintain one's sensibilities and not adopt an alarmist attitude towards the changing defense landscape, even as we may be frightened by the possible.