Drone swarms. Self-driving tanks. Autonomous sentry guns. Sometimes it seems like the future of warfare arrived on our doorstep overnight, and we’ve all been caught unprepared. But as Paul Scharre writes in his new book Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War, this has been a long time coming, and we’re currently the slow culmination of decades of development in military technology. That doesn’t mean it’s not scary, though.
Scharre’s book provides an excellent overview of this field, tracing the history of autonomous weapons from early machine guns (which automated the firing and reloading of a rifle) to today’s world of DIY killer drones, cobbled together in garages and sheds. As a former Army Ranger and someone who has helped write government policy on autonomous weapons, Scharre is knowledgeable and concise. More importantly, he pays as much attention to the political dimension of autonomous weapons as the underlying technology, looking at things like historical attempts at arms control (e.g., Pope Innocent II’s ban on the use of crossbows against Christians in 1139, which didn’t do much).
The Verge recently spoke to Scharre about Army of None, discussing the US Army’s current attitude toward autonomous weapons, the feasibility of attempts to control so-called “killer robots,” and whether or not it’s inevitable that new military technology will have unexpected and harmful side effects.
Read the Full Article at The Verge