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On the Record

Inside the Rise of the Warbots

Peter Singer joined Wired.com’s Danger Room to discuss the U.S. military’s growing use of robots, and his new book, Wired for War.

Danger Room: Your last two books were on mercenaries and child soldiers. Why the switch to robots?

Peter Singer: I think the opening line of my book explains it all: “Because robots are frakkin’ cool.”

The long answer is that as I looked around at everything from the Roomba that cleans my house (and scares my cat) to the drones my friends in the Air Force were flying, I became more and more convinced that something big was going on. When historians look back at this period, they may conclude that we are today at the start of the greatest revolution that warfare has seen since the introduction of atomic bombs. It may be even bigger. Our new unmanned systems don’t just affect the “how” of war-fighting, but are starting to change the “who” of the fighting at the most fundamental level. That is, every previous revolution in war was about weapons that could shoot quicker, further, or had a bigger boom. That is certainly happening with robots, but it is also reshaping the identity and experience of war. Humankind is starting to lose its 5,000-year-old monopoly of the fighting war.

So there is a thread that connects the past books I had done on private military firms and child soldiers. They are all about how the sands are shifting underneath us, about how our assumptions of “who” fights wars is very much changing in the 21st century. Robots take this to a whole new level.

Read the full interview »

Author

Peter W. Singer

Former Brookings Expert

Strategist and Senior Fellow - New America

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