Friday, September 3, 2010

P.W. Singer

P.W. Singer is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He's written for or appeared on a wide variety of media, from "60 Minutes" to the New York Times. He has worked for the Pentagon and Harvard University, and in his personal capacity, served as the coordinator of the defense policy advisory task force for the Obama campaign. In his previous two books, Singer foretold the rise of private military contractors and the advent of child soldiers - predictions which proved to be all too accurate.

His latest book is Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

From his Q & A with Military History:

Who was the father of military technology?

It was probably the first caveman—let's call him Ogg—who picked up a rock. Ogg probably thought he'd achieved the ultimate dominance in war, until his enemy, Ugg, picked up a strip of leather and invented the sling, thinking that he'd achieved military dominance. And that's really the story of technology in warfare; a constant back-and-forth process of breakthroughs made and then surpassed.

While there is this constant evolution in military technology, there are certain revolutions that occur every so often, something that completely changes the rules and forces us to ask new questions. And these questions are not only about what is possible, but also about what is proper—what is right and what is wrong.

What are some of these revolutionary advances?

The longbow, gunpowder, the atomic bomb and, today, robotics. And, of course, the computer. We're not talking about its processing power, but about the "ripple effects" it has had on war and the world beyond. The computer not only fundamentally changed organization and communication in war (remember General Norman Schwarzkopf's comment that it was the use of computers that allowed the United States to be so successful in the First Gulf War?), but the computer also created such entirely new domains of war as cyberwarfare. And it creates new relationships in war—for example, soldiers...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: Wired for War.

--Marshal Zeringue