Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Realities of Modern Day Warfare

Image result for image of talon robot
Image of Talon

According to P.W. Singer, a "robots revolution is upon us". A revolution in the fundamentals of the way wars are being fought is changing the entire experience of life on the front lines.

Robots are generally associated with the future and with technological advancements. However, many fail to realize that we are already in the era of robotics. According to Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in 2016 alone, the United States Government authorized approximately 1072 drone strikes.

Drone Operations have changed drastically over the last decade. The U.S. military has gone from having a few drones in the air and none on ground going into Iraq, to having thousands today. The benefits of robots and drones compared to human soldiers seem endless. The cost is lower than that of a deployed soldier, the emotional attachment isn't present, there is a Casualty Aversion, robots seem to be more politically acceptable than manned aircrafts, etc.

However, along with these pros, there are also cons to this technology. This great tech, knowledge and revolution has peaked worry for many. What if this technology gets into the wrong hands? what if the robots go rogue? Will this escalate the war against terror? Many of these issues are tied to the problem of connecting autonomy with killing power.

Image result for image of ripsaw
Image of Ripsaw Robot
Many of these concerns are being addressed by scientists and engineers who are conducting research on these issues. It should be duly noted that the future of robotics is bright. Where we are right now cannot be compared to where we are going. The rate at which technology is advancing is  unprecedented. The United States Government is developing tanks that are unmanned. Just a few decades ago, this was sci-fi. According to Singer,  the vehicles of today are  "Model T Fords, the Wright Flyers, compared to whats coming soon."

The continued widespread use of these robots will only result in more and more robots in combat as time goes on. these number will increase from 5,000 to 10,000 and they will continue to rise. However, we aren't talking about 10,000 robots representing the robots we see on the battlefield today, we are talking about the robots still being developed. The future robots that will have a significantly higher capacity to perform their various tasks. In about 25 years, these robots will be a billion times more powerful than they are today.

However, 25 years is more than enough time for other countries to reach or surpass the U.S. in its robotics technology. Countries like Russia and China are working tirelessly to compete and superceed the United States in military technology. "The U.S. is currently ahead in military robotics right now, but we know that in technology, there's no such thing as a permanent first move or advantage."

Below is a link to a TED talk given by expert and military analyst Peter W Singer. In this TED talk, Singer explains how the extensive use of robots in warfare is changing the realities of war.

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