The Future Rules of War: Geneva Code or Prime Directive?
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Festival of Dangerous Ideas
The rate of technological change over the last century has been exponential. According to Moore's Law, computing power has doubled for the price every two years, a trend set to continue or even accelerate. It’s a trend that's seen robotics take centre stage in the theatre of war -- and in some cases, saved many lives. But according to political scientist P. W. Singer, it may be taking us into the ultimate of ethical grey areas. Singer claims "YouTube wars," fought by remote consoles thousands of kilometres away from the battlelines, have profoundly compromised the gravitas that once accompanied the horrors of warfare. For example, unmanned squadrons of "Predator Drones" currently carry out five times the airstrikes in Pakistan that were waged on Kosovo ten years ago. But, as Singer points out, this isn’t actually referred to as a "war."As the military becomes increasingly disconnected from the battles they are waging, Singer checks up on the cost to the operators and the targets of our newest "killer apps" -- the unmanned robot armies of the twenty-first century. Peter W. Singer was speaking to the Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf at the Sydney Opera House for the 2010 Festival of Dangerous Ideas.