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Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,147 ratings  ·  224 reviews
We are just beginning to see a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make the stuff of I, Robot and the Terminator all too real. More then seven thousand robotic systems are now in Iraq. Pilots in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. Scientists are debating just how smart - and how lethal - to make their current robotic prototypes. And ma ...more
Hardcover, 499 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Penguin Press (first published 2009)
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Mario the lone bookwolf
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
The visionary extrapolations of the author are bit by bit coming true in each second technology evolves closer to war without human fighters. Singer describes the coming and already there development in convincing and fact-based words that will inevitably lead to a humanless war and his predictions are so visionary that 10 years after the first publication more and more of it is becoming reality. He even includes some geopolitical and leadership topics that seem pretty convincing.

Especially the
Jan 26, 2009 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
Peter (Pete) 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
Jul 01, 2009 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
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: future
Sadly, it's not only robots which are wired for war. Humans too. As Singer rightfully puts it, one of the original sins of our species is its inability to live at peace. However, the worst nightmare of any democratically elected politician is going to war that may result in lots of human casualties. That's also the surest way to a crushing defeat in the next election. No surprise that the military is the biggest funder of robot R&D globally, with the US military funding as much as 80 percent of ...more
Sep 10, 2010 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
Oct 08, 2011 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
Feb 23, 2009 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!
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I am probably the last person who would admire war or weapons of any sort, as I have seen their real effects on human flesh, families, communities, and countries, very up and close. That is one reason why I try to understand more about it and the minds behind it all. I do not claim to have done so yet, but this was an interesting book in that direction. This work takes on the difficult and constantly evolving topic of role of robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning in war. Publis ...more
Apr 15, 2012 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
May 22, 2012 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
Joshua Stein
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, ethics
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
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
Jul 01, 2011 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
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Robots. They are here and they are here to stay. DARPA, ONR, NASA, and the Terminator are our future combat systems. In the "short" time I have been in, I have seen satellites become our hubs. Probability calculations determine our expectations and our response. We now see robots enter the fray. Bomb disposal, AI, and others are shaping our land forces. And in the starry nights of Iraq, if you listen closely, you can hear them. They are always there. Drones. Hundreds of them. Remote controlled p ...more
Thor Toms
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. This should be required reading for anyone with an interest in technology or warfare. Some of the book is already outdated, but the general trend is well worth reading.
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
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
Asim Qureshi
Jan 31, 2013 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
Dan R. Celhay
Oct 14, 2016 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
May 08, 2012 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
Jim Angstadt
Mar 07, 2013 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.
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Rather superficial look at the technology (robots, AI etc.) underlying current and future weaponry, at level of a newspaper article. Even with only a layman's understanding of the tech involved, this doesn't really bring anything new. On the non-tech level, it's a good overview.
Bo Trapnell
Jan 18, 2017 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.
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Easy to read and interesting. I enjoy Singer's sense of humor; he was able to keep a dark subject feom being too dark.
Jan 25, 2009 marked it as to-read
heard this guy interviewed on npr. sounded fascinating.
Thomas Hayes
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Come with me if you want to live!
Henry Davis IV
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although published in 2015, this work examining current and future applications of artificial intelligence and robotics is just as relevant (if not more so) than when it was written. It's clear, intelligent discussions about the ethical, legal, and other implications for the future development and survival of mankind posed by these technologies are well researched and presented. Based on hearing him speak in person, reading past books of his like Ghost Fleet, and recently listening to a great on ...more
Andrew Lee
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Singer speak at a leader professional development event at my army unit and this was listed as a recommended reading which I admittedly didn't finish in time for the meeting buuuuuut now that I have I found it be a very well thought groundwork of various issues surrounding the use of robotics in war that was easy to read and enjoyable.

Mr. Singer, through adroit use of pop culture references, helped lay out the various frameworks of various issues and how people
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fascinating deep dive into the use of robotics in war. Singer begins with the evolution of robotics over the past centuries, the recent adoption of robots for wartime uses, and the many related topics that must be discussed to fully address the use of artifice intelligences in a combat zone. In so doing, he delves into many related topics including the arguments from both the supporters and detractors of unmanned autonomous weapons, the questions of how much autonomy a robot shoul ...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 101-year history. Described in the Wall Street Journal as “the premier futurist in the national- security environment," has been named by the Sm ...more

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