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Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century [Hardcover]

P W Singer
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Aug 2009

We are just beginning to see a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make the stuff of I, Robot and the Terminator all too real. More then seven thousand robotic systems are now in Iraq. Pilots in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. Scientists are debating just how smart - and how lethal - to make their current robotic prototypes. And many of the most renowned science fiction authors are secretly consulting for the Pentagon on the next generation.

Blending historic evidence with interviews from the field, Singer vividly shows that as these technologies multiply, they will have profound effects on the front lines as well as on the politics back home. Moving humans off the battlefield makes wars easier to start, but more complex to fight. Replacing men with machines may save some lives, but will lower the morale and psychological barriers to killing. The "warrior ethos", which has long defined soldiers' identity, will erode, as will the laws of war that have governed military conflict for generations.

While his analysis is unnerving, there's an irresistible gee-whiz quality to the innovations Singer uncovers. Wired for War travels from Iraq to see these robots in combat to the latter-day "skunk works" in America's suburbia, where tomorrow's technologies of war are quietly being designed. In Singer's hands, the future of war is as fascinating as it is frightening.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781594201981
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201981
  • ASIN: 1594201986
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.8 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 505,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

?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 Sould

About the Author

Dr Singer is considered one the world's leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare. He has written for the full range of major media and journals, including Boston Globe, L.A. Times, New Times, amongst many others. He is also the author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry and Children at War.

He is also a founder and organizer of the US-Islamic World Forum, a global conference that brings together leaders from across the US and the Muslim world.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOMORROWS WORLD TODAY 14 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover
Having spent my working life mainly on weapons delivery systems I was attracted to this publication, What an eye opener! What a lengthy read - 500 pages. What astonishing facts. The book does much, much more than describe the flash-bang-wallop of aerial drones and terrestial military robots. It examines and describes in great detail the psychological associations and consequences of this astonishing technology; especially as used in recent years in real war scenarios. Some of the detail descriptions make you stop and think. This is Grand Theft Auto 'real life' stuff. Overall a VERY well researched and produced publication which should be compulsory reading for anyone involved with modern military matters, and of great interest to a wider public. I cannot recommend it enough.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking read 26 Mar 2010
By Jules R
Format:Paperback
A comprehensive study of the next "Revolution in Military Affairs", the rise of the autonomous fighting robot. Opening with a fascinating history of robots (originally named after the Czech for "serf"), "Wired for War" deals not only with the hardware but also at the strategic, tactical, legal, ethical & moral implications of outsourcing the killing of fellow human beings to emotionless drones & robots. These latter aspects are, for me, the most fascinating as technology rarely (if ever) works in a vacuum but rather impacts on the society using it.

From the effects on present-day US-based killer drone pilots of having to switch from killing insurgents during the day to attending a PTA meeting in the evening to the legal & moral quagmire resulting from ever-greater use of artificial intelligence in warfighting.

The book is written in an easy, journalistic style with plenty of first-person interviews with the key players. One (minor) quibble - the regular cultural references are determinably & obscurely American-centric that will mean nothing to the vast majority of any non-US audience (even the reference to "The Office" refers to the American re-make).

Tat aside, this should be a key text for both policy-makers & military staff colleges as well as the citizens in whose name these systems are being developed and increasingly deployed.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Bought the book after seeing a presentation on the web by the author back in April.

The books starts of by introducing some of the main players, talks about some of technological improvements. Later chapters feature the active use of robots and UAVs with theatres of war like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the psychological effects of using technology both for the people operating the technology and those on the receiving end.

The author has spoken to people right across the board from university professors, to senior military officers to grunts on the ground and even people on the receiving end living in places like Palistinian 'Occupied Territories'.

Makes fascinating reading and would interest anyone who likes guns, robots, science fiction or all of the above.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, well written and important book 3 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I originally bought this book at a departure gate store, whilst stocking up on reading material for a long and potentially boring flight east. However, it was so fascinating and enjoyable, upon my return i bought a few copies via Amazon for friends i knew would share the fascination. A major success.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative! 20 Oct 2011
By kclam
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book offers a interesting review of the robotic warfare, the 'new' experience of unmanned wars on warriors, and their effect on war commanders. It also examines the next wave of warbots, how we might fight with robots, the psychology of warbots, laws of war, robot revolt and robot ethics.

Technologic implants might be used to enhance our human capabilities in war. DARPA has already initiated a "AugCog" augmented cognition program. It aims to implant the memory chips that robots use inside the human body, which might help our brains to overcome the data overload problem. These 'cyborgs' might be the only way to keep up with warbots and the new robotic technologies. However, resistance is futile. Good Read!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very comprehensive overview 16 Aug 2011
By Max
Format:Kindle Edition
Whether you're interested in war or not, this book will contain relevant insights, as robotics are becoming and more more ubiquitous. It contains a very comprehensive account both of the current state of Robotics, and the place of robots (present and future) in war, although he also spends some time looking at the potential of popular comercial robots (such as the Roomba) too.

The technical aspect of robotics only forms part of this account - the author spends a lot of the book dealing with the potential effects and moral questions surrounding robotics, as robots become more autonomous and intelligent, and the current reactions (or sometimes lack of reaction) to these issues. It's clear we need (as a species) to start thinking about what we want from robots.

Well written, with exhaustive references, and packed with information & insights.
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