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

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3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,629 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
Book by Singer, P. W.
Hardcover, 499 pages
Published January 22nd 2009 by Penguin Press (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
Jan 26, 2009 Stew rated it it was amazing
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
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Peter Mcloughlin
Coolest book I've read by a hip military historian of center right leanings. This book was awesome. It covered the singularity and AI and robotics from a military standpoint. Dazzling and terrifying at once. If you thought mushroom clouds were horrifying and kind of cool looking at the same time you will love this book. Technology and robotics are fascinating and warfare is as well. When you combine them you get the most interesting apocalypse in the world. Sorry to be flip but I am tired today. ...more
Lucas
Jul 01, 2009 Lucas rated it really liked it
Shelves: robotics, military
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
Cwn_annwn_13
Sep 10, 2010 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it
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
Michael
Oct 08, 2011 Michael rated it liked it
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
Andrew
Apr 15, 2012 Andrew rated it did not like it
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
Jonathan
Feb 23, 2009 Jonathan rated it it was ok
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!
Jerome
May 22, 2012 Jerome rated it really liked it
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
Joshua Stein
Jun 13, 2012 Joshua Stein rated it really liked it
Shelves: ethics, science
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
Oct 17, 2011 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, politics
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
Lou
Jul 01, 2011 Lou rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Bo Trapnell
Jan 18, 2017 Bo Trapnell rated it really liked it
Great read if a little outdated as always would be the case with technology and publications.

Not dry reading as easily could have been.

The book started off a little slow but several of the chapters were very enjoyable subjects.
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
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
Asim Qureshi
Jan 31, 2013 Asim Qureshi rated it liked it
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
Daniela
Oct 14, 2016 Daniela rated it really liked it
This book is mostly about how new technology is changing the way wars are fought, currently less soldiers are killed/needed on sites, since drones and other devices are scouting and firing the enemy through remote control. Some interesting bits in the book are the "ups! moments" in which machines stop functioning as desired; an army computer once mistook a commercial flight with an Iraqi fighter jet shooting it on sight (now I get that Simpson's gag*) Nevertheless, there are robots that have act ...more
Lightreads
May 08, 2012 Lightreads rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jim Angstadt
Mar 07, 2013 Jim Angstadt rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Wired (as opposed to Wireless?) for War.

Started reading topic sentences in the introduction. Too much "This is how I got to this point."

Roughly, the first half of this book was a verbose summary of the robot/drone situation. There was very little insight into issues, the composition of future military forces, or the future in general.

Bailed. No thanks.
Jeannette
Jan 25, 2009 Jeannette marked it as to-read
heard this guy interviewed on npr. sounded fascinating.
Thomas Hayes
Feb 03, 2009 Thomas Hayes rated it it was ok
Come with me if you want to live!
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
Xing
Aug 09, 2012 Xing rated it liked it
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
Stephen
Jan 26, 2017 Stephen rated it liked it
Good read. The second half deals with the implications of AI in the near future.
Rrrrrron
Jan 08, 2017 Rrrrrron rated it did not like it
Shelves: quits, renew-to
Dated (written in 2009 and reading it in 2017) and very long-winded - I made to about 3 hours (of ~20 hour total) into the audiobook. Should have been 1/10th its length as there is just a lot of background and Singer's imagination is limited. Skimmed through the table of contents, and skimming ahead and it is quite disappointing. There is just so much background and so little substance.

Autonomous drone warfare for inter-state conflicts and state-non-state conflicts should be the biggest topic.
...more
Emily
Apr 17, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Artur Coelho
Oct 16, 2011 Artur Coelho rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2013 Charles rated it it was amazing
"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
Eric
Jun 24, 2009 Eric rated it liked it
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
Shawn
Nov 17, 2015 Shawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not only does "Wired For War" explore the evolving role of robotics in warfare, it also does an outstanding job describing the changing characteristics of war in the Information/Technology Age. While many of author P.W. Singer’s predictions about the role robotic systems will have in future war may or may not come true, the assumptions he presents about current rapidly changing technologies have merit and at a minimum make the reader think about how these technologies will influence the way futu ...more
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Peter Warren Singer is Strategist and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. He previously was Director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution and the youngest scholar named Senior Fellow in Brookings's 99-year history. He has been named by CNN to their "New Guard" List of the Next Generation of Newsmakers, by the Smithsonian Institution-Nationa ...more
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“the New York Times predicted that “the flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years.” That same day, two brothers who owned a bicycle shop in Ohio started assembling the very first airplane, which would fly just a few weeks later.” 1 likes
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