This post is about my view on religion justified as a reason to fight wars, with robots facilitating the process to depersonify killing that is now easier than before with the revolution going on in robotics used in war. It is based on the video below from the 2009 Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference of military analyst P.W. Singer, in his talk about the revolution quietly going on in war of using robots to fight them. By quiet, I don’t mean anything like top secret, but to the degree that’s going on and some of the details you really don’t hear about. The revolution is hugely eye-opening and, more importantly, morally challenging since it really depersonifies war the way guns have depersonified murder and war where it’s become so easy to kill. With robots, we don’t even have to be on the same continent to do the same. It’s all like a video game.
Military Analyst and Wired for War author, P.W. Singer
One point P.W. Singer brings up in his talk is how this is perceived in the Arab world, that Americans are cowards to fight with robots instead of people. Trust me. If they had access to these robots, they would, too. It’d be a lot more efficient, economical and easy than trying to convince potential recruits of the 70 virgins waiting for them in the afterlife if they become terrorist bombers. Besides, how long could 70 virgins occupy one’s interest for eternity, anyway? It’s hypocrisy to take the stance Americans are cowards for not fighting man to man. They should be appreciative there’s some compassion in modern society, despite the lack of compassion that seems to exist in war. In the good old days, if you had the weaponry to wipe out the enemy, you’d put them all down, or at least down to their knees, mercilessly so they would know there were consequences to petty acts of war like terrorist bombings. You know, they’d take on the kill one of us and we’ll kill 10 of you policy. No exceptions.
The scary thing about P.W. Singer’s talk, though, is that all this robotic technology could easily belong to the enemy. Considering all the manufacturing going on outside the US. Think about all the software writing done outside the US. Don’t forget that US science and engineering graduates becoming smaller and smaller compared to other countries. Then there’s the ease of duplication from learning by capturing one of these things. Put it all together and I think you can see how it would not take long before the enemy can play at the same level, or slightly less but in greater numbers. That was the old Soviet Union’s war technology approach with how many of their war machines looking like US ones, only not as good. They didn’t lose the Cold War on that strategy though, but economics. And don’t forget, this time around, there are no humans to die with loss of inferior machines but that bundles of them could outdo the fewer better ones.
P.W. Singer ends his talk with a great question of who is really wired for war, humans or robots? I think the answer to that question is easy, though hard for a lot of humans to admit. However, my additional take on it is if in depersonifying the killing for wars, and having to morally debate how responsible for it all, if we would not fall back on the most convenient excuse for killing we have ever had, which is in the name of religion.
In the past and present, we have used religion to remove responsibility from ourselves for killing in wars, but we still had to do it ourselves.
In the future, we will be able to use religion to justify our killing, and claim our innocence as the robots do the killing.
Both will make it more convenient to kill, which will only lead to more killing.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.8