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

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,003 ratings  ·  142 reviews
A military expert reveals how science fiction is fast becoming reality on the battlefield, changing not just how wars are fought, but also the politics, economics, laws, and ethics that surround war itself

P. W. Singer?s previous two books foretold the rise of private military contractors and the advent of child soldiers? predictions that proved all too accurate. Now, he e...more
Hardcover, 499 pages
Published January 22nd 2009 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2009)
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Hadrian
This book looks at the technical, organizational, and psychological effects of using robotics and unmanned vehicles in modern warfare. Optimists might say that this is a revolution in military affairs, as robots will be able to do tasks too dull, dirty or dangerous for humans, and will be able to accomplish tasks faster and more efficiently as well.

The chief difficulties with this revolution are multiple. Here are a few. First, the problems of command structure, whether instant access and commun...more
Stew
What sets this book apart from the usual policy wonk books that come out of Washington, D.C. think tanks is that Singer is actually a good writer and has a style that engages the reader and draws them into the topic.
Policy shops send me dozens of military books every year that are unreadable. This is a notable exception.
As someone who covers this topic in his day job, I haven't read it from cover to cover, and probably won't because I'm familiar with many of the programs he covers. However, Sing...more
Michael
Owing to the rapid progress in the robotics field, this book is surely already out-of-date four years after its publication. I didn't have any knowledge of military robotics beforehand, but I have to wonder whom the target audience is for this. Maybe readers who are less aware of the fictional origins of robots, hence the many and sometimes snarky comments? Singer doesn't skimp on detail, and at times I felt like there was too much conceptual detail for my tastes.

I also have to ask: when a write...more
Lucas
I was hoping Wired For War to read like a Lawrence Lessig book, where conceptions that were vague in my own mind before starting would be rendered crystal clear in the text. It's worth reading but not up to that level- his main offering is that things are changing and the right people aren't paying enough attention.

The first 200 pages are just overview of current systems, with a Popular Science level of credulousness and lack of critical thought.
Next 200 pages get into issues, but the author is...more
Jonathan
Fascinating topic.

At 100pp this would have been an average overview. At 200pp it might smack of sloppy editing. But at 436pp this begins to feel like malice.

Oddly wooden sense of humor, leaden writing, dull arguments... no more book recs from Jon Stewart!
Cwn_annwn_13
Well apparently wars in the future will be fought by detached from reality sociopathic nerds with videogame joysticks. Military people "in the know" that were interviewed see the writing on the wall and acknowledge that the role of the soldier will be hugely different in the not so distant future. Drones will make the fighter pilot obsolete. Robotics will eventually make the common foot soldier obsolete. The future military could easily be pencil neck geeks thousands of miles from the action con...more
Joshua Stein
Singer's book is good, given that you go into it with your expectations grounded in what the book is. This is popular science writing, with some journalism on contemporary war. Singer is a very good writer, and keeps the book accessible and relatively light; it is easy to read, despite its impressive length and the breadth of the subject matter.

Normally, with a book written this way, I might suggest that it would be better if the focus of the text was much more narrow, but I think that what make...more
Christopher
This is a freakin' awesome book! Singer, in this book on robotics and its use in the military, has just blown my mind. Reading about many of the things in this book seems like science fiction, yet it is all real. Robots that can stay in the air for over a day, robots that can act as sentry guards for army bases, robots that can see through walls, and even robots that can replace lost limbs; it is all in here. But what really blew my mind was not just the detailed accounts of these new technologi...more
Andrew G. Gibson
Any book on existing technologies is going to date with alacrity, and this is no different. Having been published in 2009, it seems overly opportunistic that this was turned into a book. This should be a quarter its existing length, and even with that it would have required some very free-handed wielding of the editor's red pen. Essentially an over-extension of a magazine article, it is heavy on the cheer-leading descriptions and quotations, and all-too-scant on actual incisive analysis. The mos...more
Methodtomadness
I originally mistook Peter Warren Singer for Peter Singer the ethicist, and found myself halfway through the book before I realized it was a completely different guy. (I kept thinking, "Geez, Singer's gotten really chatty and colloquial in this book, and he uncharacteristically seems uninterested in even nodding at some of the ethical problems this future world of robotics might bring about...")

Much of Wired for War is a kind of recap of the history of robotics and robotics technology's current...more
Jerome
I first saw the author on an episode of Oliver North's "War Stories" dealing with recent technological advances in warfare. It mentioned him as the author of this book, so I rushed to order it at my library.

For such a weighty hardback, it's remarkably hard to put down, and each section evolves intelligently from the last. I particularly enjoyed the references to modern culture, given that robotics has largely been a subject of science fiction in the last few decades rather than yielding anything...more
Asim Qureshi
Singer's 'Wired for War' is a fascinating account of the robotics industry. I was surprised by the depth of issues that he covered over the course of the work, particularly taking the time to assess the potential ethics of their use, but moreso, how they can potentially back fire.

Of particular note was the 'singularity' discussion, which provided not only a new insight for me into the way technological revolutions take place, but also how the world can be impacted by a singular 'thing'. It is w...more
Maria
Singer traces the development and use of robotics in the U.S. military and asks the questions: How does this change war? How does this change the roles of warriors, their self-image and ability to relate to others? What are the ethics and consequences of arming robots? What will the future of warfare be like in 10-50 years if we continue at our current trends? What happens when our comparative advantage vanishes and our enemies have these technologies?

Why I picked this up: I taught a staff train...more
Lightreads
For the record, I would like to state that I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

However, also for the record? We're all gonna die. Not soon. But eventually, when the robots develop sufficient sentience to realize they don't need to take this shit any more, and also they can plan a war way better than the fucking monkeys, because seriously, as this book testifies, that would not be hard to do.

Pretty good book, could have been better in many many ways, bit of a survey course feel where noth...more
Lou
This book sucks.

Let me elaborate. I should have known this was going to suck when he said Bill Simmons was his favorite writer. Aside from any problems one might have with Simmons, easily the worst thing he's done is produce an army of sports writers trying to be funny and make tons of pop culture references. So when a historian from a think tank writes a history of drones and robots in the military, well, yeah. It sucks. Hard. You can literally go through each pages noting where there italic re...more
Emily
Reading Wired for War five years after its initial publication I was aware of some of the technology referenced having already far surpassed the level explored here, so I approached the book as a primer for future research rather than a way to garner knowledge about the current trends in technology. Regardless, I still finished the book having learnt about some technological advancements that I was previously unaware of.

The parts that were of significant interest to me were the chapters in the s...more
Jeannette
Jan 25, 2009 Jeannette marked it as to-read
heard this guy interviewed on npr. sounded fascinating.
Thomas Hayes
Come with me if you want to live!
Wesley
I first learned of this book when I saw the author plug on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It seemed interesting and very similar to a book that I read a while back called Physics for Future Presidents. For that reason, I decided to read it and, to say the least, I found it to be quite informative.
The book basically talks about the technological advancements that are being made in the battle field. One such example of this would be the Predator drones. It used to be that in order to get informa...more
Artur Coelho
Um livro sobre robots armados que patrulham os céus em busca de alvos, seguram metralhadoras pesadas ou desactivam bombas improvisadas? Ainda muito recentemente este seria um bom mote para uma obra de ficção científica muito especulativa. Hoje, é um estudo vertical sobre uma realidade comum nos campos de batalha mundiais.

Num número maior do que se imagina, e espalhados pelos quatro cantos do globo, hoje circulam aeronaves de combate autónomas controladas remotamente a milhares de quilómetros de...more
Charles
"Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century" by P.W. Singer provides an amazing look at how technology is changing the way we wage war. Published in 2009, it still seems as fresh as if it had just hit the bookstores yesterday. The book is divided into two sections. Part 1: The Change We Are Creating, and Part 2: What Change is Creating For Us. The chapter names provide a glimpse of the material covered. Some examples: 3. Robotics for Dummies, 5. Coming to a Battlefie...more
AJ Armstrong
I wanted to like this more. The author is from my generation, the subject matter is both a personal and professional interest, and it's topical. Perhaps I was expecting too much, but I found the treatment somewhat pedestrian, offering little more insight to its major themes that would be obvious to a frequent reader of Wired or Popular Mechanics. Singer plays a bit fast and loose with technical concepts---for example, he glosses over "strong AI" as simply a synonym for "human-like intelligence",...more
Xing
A very light, quick read, meant to give the layperson an overview of accelerating trends in military reliance on robotic systems. Written in a conversational, narrative style, with a disarmingly fresh-faced opening chapter that describes the author's childhood influences, to draw technophobes into the fold.

Extensively researched as it was, I've to admit that I was expecting a somewhat meatier treatment of the subject. Chapters typically provided instructive examples of current uses of technolog...more
Sdluvingit
My last completed book for 2011 is informative, thought-provoking, and scary. P. W. Singer's look at the next RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) in Wired for War shows how the inspiration of science fiction has become reality. This book shows the current state of robotic technology, the research being done, the ever increasing pace of change, how it is currently being used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the wonders and dangers such technology offers. There are serious questions about how divorci...more
G0rd0
Fascinating, comprehensive, and balanced, this book covers the future by looking at war technology. War is so often the driver of innovation. There are now more drone pilots than fighter pilots. Robot ground fighters number in the thousands on the battlefield, while Congress has mandated that half of all ground vehicles be unmanned by 2015. The next step is to give them autonomy. What will war mean when all of the killing is done without risk from across the globe? Take away valor, courage, dan...more
Ben Babcock
The first time I had ever seen, let alone heard of, a Predator drone is from the episode "Chuck vs. the Predator" of the NBC television series Chuck (the drone actually appearing in that episode was a Reaper, the Predator's even deadlier successor). Before the Predator's appearance, I had no inkling of the extent to which the American military—indeed, any country's military—has integrated unmanned and robotic devices into its forces. Maybe I just don't read the right books (or blogs). Wired for...more
Eric
This book covers the increased use of robots and drones by the military since 2003. They gone from using a handful in Iraq during the invasion to using 1000s. What's interesting is that they really haven't changed the fighting drastically. That won't happen until robots start replacing humans entirely. For instance, right now an "unmanned" Predator drone in Iraq has two pilots flying it in Nevada. Until it's one guy flying 10 of them, the drones won't come in to their own.

The most interesting pa...more
Josh Liller
A book in two parts: the first part will blow your mind with what is being done while the second part will haunt your nightmares with what could go wrong.

Okay, so that's an exaggeration, but an otherwise accurate description. From the roles drones and robots are playing in Iraq to the way they are being controlled, the influence of science fiction, ethics issues, cultural issues - it seems pretty comprehensive.

Singer has an odd writing style, dropping pop culture references at will and sounding...more
Todd Nemet
Fascinating topic covered sloppily in a book with bad editing. Just watch the TED talk and listen to the interview with Terry Gross and skip reading the book.

It's really a shame that I couldn't enjoy this book more because the use of robotics in warfare is a fascinating and important topic. I didn't realize the extent of the use of drones in the air, on land, and in the water by the military. It has shaped the execution and policy of the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I was surprised to le...more
Rachel
I found this book an excellent overview of the state of the art of military robotics. Singer's style is easy to read and entertaining, and he covered a huge range of ideas in a (relatively!) small space. The book briefly covers the history of warfare, history of computers, and history of robotics. It includes backgrounds on and discussions with the major players in the military robotics field, as well as digressions on non-military robotics and non-robotic military issues. Finally, there is some...more
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Peter Warren Singer is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution. He is the youngest scholar named Senior Fellow in Brookings's 90-year history. He has been named by CNN to their "New Guard" List of the Next Generation of Newsmakers, by the Smithsonian Institution-National Portrait Gallery as one of the 100 “leading innovators...more
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