Nukes and robots

A fascinating article on robotic warfare by Peter Singer.  He raises a number of good questions about it, notably how much easier it will make it for America to go to war.  I think this is also very troubling when you start doing the calculus from the other side.  Let’s say you’re a nuclear power but you haven’t been able to keep up with the US deployment of robots.  Now a conflict starts, and you’re faced with two problems: first, your forces are probably overmatched; second, and more importantly, since you inflict mostly robot casualties but they are killing people, the political cost to you becomes much greater and to them much lower.  At the extreme, even if you win a battle, no one cares.  So there are very few ways to force the US to the bargaining table.  What is left? The nuclear gamble.

There are lots of ‘what ifs’ here. Of course no-one right now seriously thinks they can really beat the US in a conventional war. But plenty of leaders will believe they can inflict enough political damage by killing a sizeable number of soldiers that they can get to the table.  If the US military pursues this path of limiting human damage too much, the unintended consequence may be the paradoxical outcome of much greater death and destruction.

Beware forcing your enemies into desperation.

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