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Military Technology: Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution And Conflict In The 21st Century By P.W. Singe

1763 words - 7 pages

One of the original sins of our species is its inability to live at peace. The very beginnings of human history have provided us with conflicts over food, territory, riches, power and prestige. War is both a cause and effect of broader social change, resulting stratification into economic classes and the creation of politics itself. War is also described as a testing ground for nobility, a heights of human creativity. Many of our great works of literature, arts, and science either are inspired by war or are reactions to it (Singer, p. 5). In his book, Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict In The 21st Century, P.W. Singer examines the trends that are starting to converge in military technology and innovation. The future of U.S. warfare and military intervention is upon us, and it seems to fabricate an idea of getting rid of, or at least minimizing the role of a human warrior. Singer explores every aspect of the rise of military robotics from the historical to the ethical, all the while diving into the philosophical questions that arise as a result. He splits the book into two parts; Part one, attempts to capture this moment of great change, to understand the changes that we are creating. In order to assess this new technology in war and robotics, the author will hit key issues such as the history of robots, how these technologies work, and who creates them. Part two, will explore what all this change is creating for us. It will cover everything from the resulting shifts in how wars are fought to important questions that our new machine creations are starting to raise in politics, law, and ethics. War just won’t be the same (Singer, p. 41).
The idea of creating mechanical beings to replace the work of humans is at least as old as ancient Greek and Roman mythology. For example, the god of metalwork had a host of mechanical servants that he made out of gold. One of these servants, Talos, was a huge statue that protected an island and would heat up metallic arms to a red-hot glow. Talos later became the name for an Apple computer operating system, as well as the first computer-guided missiles on U.S. Navy ships. These myths were not just stories but became inspirations for both real-world philosophers and inventors (Singer, p.44). Jacques de Vaucanson, an engineer from France, used the concept of reason and mechanics to reproduce life itself, via “the Defecating Duck.” Vaucanson’s mechanical fowl looked very lifelike from the outside and could also sit, stand, walk, eat, and then defecate. It wasn’t until four decades later, that Vaucanson’s duck was discovered as a fraud, due to the “artificial excrement” (Singer, p. 43). However, it is still relevant today because it illustrates how humankind attempts to use technology to mimic and replace life. Early mechanical creations typically did the same thing every time they were activated, rather than moving about or responding to any changes in the environment. That is, they were automated,...

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