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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-48528

Geser, H (2011). Modest prospectives for military robots in today’s asymmetric wars. Sociology in Switzerland: World Society and International Relations 8, University of Zurich.

Published Version


Some recent developments in (semi-)automatic weaponry (like the “irobot 510 Packbot” or MQ-9 Reaper drones) have revived the interest in“unmanned warfare” and “robot soldiers”. A closer look reveals that such devices are apt
to accomplish many specialize tasks shunned (or impossible to carry out) by human fighters, that they increase offensive and defensive action capacities of armed forces and that they may lower the threshold for applying violence
and entering wars. On the other hand, their dependence on highly structured, simplified environments makes them
of little use under conditions of modern infantry fighting, in asymmetric warfare characterized by a blurring between
military and civilian individuals and targets, and especially in peace enforcing and nation rebuilding missions where even the much higher polyvalence and versalility of human soldiers is challenged to the extreme. Within military organizations, robots facilitate the centralization and strict implementation of normative rules, and on a strategic level, they may indirectly fuel worldwide terrorism because attackers are motivated to divert violence form battlefields to softer (human) targets.


177 downloads since deposited on 28 Jun 2011
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Deposited On:28 Jun 2011 10:56
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:56
Series Name:Sociology in Switzerland: World Society and International Relations
Number of Pages:28
Official URL:http://www.geser.net/internat/t_hgeser8.pdf

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