When weapons can think for themselves

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Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War. By Paul Scharre. W.W. Norton & Company; 448 pages; $27.95.

ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) is on the march, for good and ill. The AI that makes possible self-driving cars and diagnoses diseases more accurately than doctors will save lives. The AI that does jobs better than workers may be a more mixed blessing. But AI that might give machines—“killer robots”—the responsibility for deciding how wars are fought, and who gets killed, is a science-fiction nightmare. Paul Scharre, a former army ranger, explores this dystopian prospect in “Army of None”.

Mr Scharre interviews the engineers building autonomous weapons and the strategists preparing for their arrival. He sees first-hand what to expect from these technologies, such as swarms of small, low-cost drones locked in aerial combat, manoeuvring with superhuman co-ordination. The speed of these developments, he finds,…Continue reading

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