Contributed by Joanne C. Kelleher
I recently finished reading Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by P.W. Singer (2009).
The book covered the historical impact of major technological changes on warfare methods and strategies, the development of robots, the ethics of using robots in a conflict situation and the implications of designing robots which are authorized to make their own decisions about when to fire upon an enemy. (Talk about the need for strong security!) If you are interested in any of these topics then I would recommend this book.
Two of the subchapters in this book are titled Gentlemen, We can rebuild him. We have the technology, a reference to the 1970’s TV show The Six Million Dollar Man and Enhancements. They discuss how the line between humans and robots will become less clear as time goes on. Today, soldiers who have lost a limb in war are being equipped with electrically powered prostheses that are programmed to do things automatically and being wired directly into patient’s nerves.
In the civilian sector, devices such as cochlear implants, pacemakers, heart monitors and replaceable joints are being implanted. So, what example does Singer use for voluntary technologic implants, which don’t merely replace something lost, but add something more Yes, the implantable RFID chip from VeriChip. I wrote about the American Medical Association’s response to putting RFID tags in humans over two years ago in https://veridify.com/RFID-Security-blog/?p=25.
This book also provided some insights into military strategy and planning and how the various branches of the U.S. Department of Defense work together (or don’t) to develop new technologies. As someone who is more of a pacifist, my favorite quote is from the very end of the book is:
Most of all, we have to start questioning into what exactly we want to invest our society’s collective intellect, energy, drive and resources. These are exciting, thrilling times, but I cannot think about them without a bit of disappointment. There is an inherent sadness in the fact that war remains one of those things that humankind is especially good at. As Eisenhower once said, Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.