“How do drones change the nations that use them?”
This is the question that Peter Singer is asking. By “drones,” Singer is referring to unmanned planes performing military missions previously executed by pilots in cockpits. Robotic development in military and intelligence operations poses significant questions about what “war” means. War has always involved risking human life, which, in the U.S., required justification by the President and Congress. Without these risks, does the President still need to justify a declaration of war? Does he need to explain his reasons for spending money to develop new technologies and risk their destruction?
The U.S. isn’t the only country using technology to decrease the risk to human life. More than 40 countries are doing so on some level, Singer says.
With this sort of technological trajectory, will our countries one day be waging wars robot v. robot? Imagine a drone with the mission of seeking and destroying an unmanned tank. At that point, the war will be a matter of economics more than anything. It will be an artificial war, if you will. The extensions of man will be so far extended, that men won’t even feel the effects of war.
Of course, the reduced risks to human lives will be the benefit that drives the technological development, and this is certainly a good thing. But what will the unintended consequences be?
Wars will become an economic matter, like the housing crisis. As a result, our weapons will no longer be bombs and bullets. Instead, they might be stock exchanges and currency trading. We already use economic sanctions and trade embargoes in a similar way.
With computers and technology at the forefront of war, electricity and information will matter more than food stuffs and Kevlar. It will be a battle of computer viruses and counterintelligence, or of power surges and reconnaissance. Information and computer programming may become more important than how many troops you have. We won’t be fighting for land but for information. It will become a battle between whoever can create program the best robot.
HT: The Economist
The Real Iron Man Suit: Man sheathed in his extensions.