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Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century Hardcover – 27 Aug 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781594201981
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201981
  • ASIN: 1594201986
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 4 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 471,942 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Wilson on 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 By Jules R on 26 Mar. 2010
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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Format: Paperback
Singer has spent a lot of time with the manufacturers and operators of military robots and shows that the armed forces have undergone a radical shift of attitude towards robotics over the last 5 years.

They have moved from rejection, to wholesale acceptance of devices such as the Predator (an ariel robot using remote control and GPS). It's cheaper than a jet fighter, can stay in the air longer, is more accurate, can operate at lower altitude and doesn't risk a pilot's life. It's now official policy, wherever possible, to switch to robotic fighting machines on land, sea and air.

He explores this fast changing situation and considers the issue of robot autonomy (robots collecting information and making their own decisions) concluding that humans are being increasingly "pushed out of the loop" for simple operational reasons. Basically they aren't fast enough and get in the way.

He reflects on the Singularity, and the widespread expectation of this event in the robotics community, and at the way that no one seems to care. They are very much focused on building better and more capable machines.
Overall a very interesting book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some chapters of this book are very interesting - the ones (around 100 pages) about the actual 'robotic' devises which are currently being used by the military. It is, however, a bit messy and does not have a clear structure. The rest consists of speculations and predictions about where technology is going, what the consequences will be and whether we can stop it. This is not nearly as interesting, since it is very subjective! Clearly the author is very pro robots and pro war. Just the term 'refuseniks' he uses abiut scientiss which do not want to work on military projects says it all. These around 300 pages are in my view very long-winded and completely without structure, considering many of the same topics over and over.

I had hoped much more emphasys on the actual technologies, how they work and how they were developed, and views into actual research projects, in stead of lengthy deliberations about artificial inteligence, and how stupid those of us, who don't think war robots are so great, are.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic book. Bought it originally for University reading, and found it to be both enlightening and extremely enjoyable to read. Singer doesn't write in the convoluted style of journal articles or other more academic-oriented texts, yet still manages to give a comprehensive, balanced, and informative account of robotics in modern warfare and society, and their wider implications for sociology, philosophy, and human psychology. Highly recommended.
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Really interesting book with deviations into Strong AI, video games, man-machine interfaces and of course the ethics of war and its growing autonomy. Now, in 2015, parts of this are already dated (indicating how quickly the field is moving) but still a relevant and fascinating journey through military robotics.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Si Smith on 15 Oct. 2009
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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