Amy Goodman interviews P.W. Singer, author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

P.W. SINGER: Yeah. There’s a section in the book. I call it “Soldiers of Fortran,” after the old software program Fortran. And there’s a great story in it, which actually encapsulates some of the weird ways this is going, where a group of college students fundraised money to do something about Darfur, and they ended up actually raising about a half-million dollars. It went well beyond their wildest dreams.

And so, then they explored whether they could hire their own private military company. And they called—you know, sent messages out via email, and a number of private military companies called them back, to their dorm room, and one of them actually offered to lease them some drones and—to use in Darfur. And the kids were talking about this. They didn’t imagine it would take off like this, but it did. Now, fortunately, some other people spoke with them and said, “Hey, this is really not the best use of the money that you fundraised.”

But it points to how these systems, they’re not just accessible to militaries. As you noted, they’re being used by DHS, by police agencies. And, of course, many of them use commercial technology. For $1,000, you could do it yourself. You can build the version of a Raven drone. And so—


P.W. SINGER: Well, it’s a little more complex than we can go into on the show, but basically there’s a do-it-yourself kit for building very similar to a Raven drone. And the point here is that you have—

AMY GOODMAN: And the drone shoots people?

P.W. SINGER: That drone isn’t armed. It’s the ability to sort of toss it in the air, and it could go off and, a mile away, show you what’s on the other side of that hill. Now, of course, you could probably jury-rig it yourself to do bad things.

Full Story: Democracy Now (video and transcript)

See also: Call Off Drone War, Influential U.S. Adviser Says


War in the Age of Intelligent Machines