Winner of the 2019 William E. Colby Award
"The book I had been waiting for. I can't recommend it highly enough." —Bill Gates
The era of autonomous weapons has arrived. Today around the globe, at least thirty nations have weapons that can search for and destroy enemy targets all on their own. Paul Scharre, a leading expert in next-generation warfare, describes these and other high tech weapons systems—from Israel’s Harpy drone to the American submarine-hunting robot ship Sea Hunter—and examines the legal and ethical issues surrounding their use. “A smart primer to what’s to come in warfare” (Bruce Schneier), Army of None engages military history, global policy, and cutting-edge science to explore the implications of giving weapons the freedom to make life and death decisions. A former soldier himself, Scharre argues that we must embrace technology where it can make war more precise and humane, but when the choice is life or death, there is no replacement for the human heart.
This important book illuminates what may be a fundamental change in the nature of war: the possibility of a future in which the majority of the fighting is done by autonomous weapons powered by artificial intelligence. Unlike drones, these machines make lethal decisions without a human "in the loop." Scharre is an expert in the field, having served as a DoD analyst responsible for the U.S. policy regarding autonomous weapon systems ("Spoiler alert: it doesn't ban them"). He talks to other experts, witnesses demonstrations, and analyzes historical examples to inform this exploration of current weapons (such as the capabilities of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, which can rapidly shoot down ballistic missiles) and the ethical challenges surrounding autonomous weapons, including reliance on fallible tools (such as those of the Patriot air defense systems, which caused friendly fire incidents among U.S. aircraft in Iraq) and the likelihood of an arms race spurring investment in ethically questionable technology. This excellent primer is of interest to the general reader and a must-read for those who have a professional interest in military topics but are not up to speed on AI and robotics.