Wired for War: When the Only Winning Move Is Not to Play

Wired for War: When the Only Winning Move Is Not to Play

Mary Ann Markey (Grand Canyon University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4957-5.ch012
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Abstract

While the motivations for waging war may not have changed significantly over time, the strategies and methodologies employed by humans that may have resulted in genocide and unilateral annihilation certainly have changed. The tenets purported by Sun Tzu in his classic The Art of War remain as relevant today as they were when he wrote this ancient military treatise; however, the introduction of advanced technologies and training strategies have drastically altered the ways in which humans currently engage in conflict. The long-term effects of utilizing these advanced technologies and training strategies have yet to be completely realized, and research suggests that the impact that these effects are having is not only relegated to the devastation of the enemy, but they are also having unanticipated psychological and cognitive effects on the initiators of the action. When science fiction becomes reality and the basis of how wars are fought, the determination of the ethics, laws, economics, and politics surrounding those wars presents humans with new challenges.
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Introduction

While the motivations for waging war may not have changed significantly over time, the strategies and methodologies employed by humans that may have resulted in genocide and unilateral annihilation certainly have changed. While the tenets purported by Sun Tzu in his classic, The Art of War (Giles, 2003), remain as relevant today as they were when he wrote this ancient military treatise, the introduction of advanced technologies and training strategies have drastically altered the ways in which humans currently engage in conflict (Singer, 2009). The long-term effects of utilizing these advanced technologies and training strategies have yet to be completely realized. Research suggests that the impact they are having is not only relegated to the devastation of the enemy, but they are also having unanticipated effects upon humans from a psychological and a cognitive perspective. When science fiction becomes reality and the basis of how wars are fought, determining the ethics, laws, economics, and politics surrounding those wars presents us with new challenges, the question arises: “Are we experiencing MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)”?

War strategies have been developed and studied for as long as humans competed for territory, mates, food or any other assets they deemed to be of value, giving them power and status in their society. While waging a successful war tended to rely upon leaders who were excellent strategists and decision makers, more recently, those individuals may have little or no experience whatsoever upon which to hone their military leadership skills. For example, former U.S. Presidents William Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump had no military training. In addition, the implications and memories of wars waged in the past tend to fade over time until they become little more than statistics published in history books or uploaded into online databases to serve as secondary sources of information for researchers. This does little if anything to address the potential psychological and cognitive effects on humans who operate the technology designed for obliterating entire populations of people as well as decimating large portions of the planet they, too, inhabit. More than a decade ago, P.W. Singer (2009) published his definitive book on the topic of how future wars would be conducted around the topic of robots, where he reveals how the relationship between humans and robots were changing the environment of warfare. Options that were once only imagined in science fiction stories were now a reality with drones hovering outside of windows, computers learning and thinking for themselves (Artificial Intelligence), and robots deployed into situations too dangerous for humans to invade. While the human intelligence and skill required behind the development of machines such as these deserves appreciation, that appreciation perhaps should be accompanied by a warming that the far-reaching and long-term implications of such a technological revolution are insufficiently understood.

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