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Jules R (UK)

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Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilisation: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization
Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilisation: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization
by Robert Zubrin
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 10 May 2011
An excellent review of the options for future human spaceflight, displaying a rare combination of technical engineering know-how & business sense as regards what would make an economically sustainable space programme. Readers need to bear in mind when reading the early chapters on options for low/near Earth orbit that Zubrin has a clear "angle" that favours a manned Mars mission as the next "big step" (see "The Case for Mars" by the same author), although to be fair, he makes this quite clear in the present text.

The one downside is that this book is now rather old, so the early chapters on immediate opportunities may feel a little dated (although it is arguably an even greater indictment of national governments that no grand strategy has been proposed in the interim) but the bulk of the book is taken up with longer-term plans for the solar system & beyond, so it is still well worth the purchase price.


Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century
Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century
by P W Singer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking read, 26 Mar 2010
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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