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Outsourcing War to Machines: The Military Robotics Revolution
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CHAPTER 1 The Revolution Has Arrived Be not deceived. Revolutions do not go backward. —Abraham Lincoln, 1856 On July 24, 2017, a terrorist bomber detonated a motorbike-driven rick- shaw packed with explosives in a busy market in Lahore, Pakistan, killing 26 people. Pakistani police forces were the primary target of the bombing and comprised 9 of the dead, but a further 17 bystanders were killed in the blast. The incident was well reported around the world, with international leaders expressing sorrow at the attack.1 Shortly after the incident, Tehrik- i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took credit for the attack, which they considered another blow in their insurgency against the Pakistani government. In particular, the TTP has been frustrated by the Pakistani government’s will- ingness to ignore U.S. airstrikes in Pakistani territory, including one that killed the founder of the group, Baitalluh Mehsud, in 2009.2 Mehsud, who had quickly become the most dangerous man in Pakistan, was hunted by armed drones for months before being struck by a missile while lounging on a rooftop in South Waziristan, surrounded by his family. In previous attempts to kill Mehsud, armed drones had fired dozens of missiles, kill- ing at least 100 people, including 70 in a single strike on a funeral for one of Mehsud’s lieutenants.3 When Mehsud died, President Barack Obama crowed about the achievement in a live radio broadcast, happily acknowl- edging that the United States had launched the missile strike.4 Four months earlier, a suicide bomber infiltrated an ammunition storage depot in Balakleya, Ukraine, and detonated a thermite grenade in a stack of ammunition crates. The resulting chain reaction of explosions required the evacuation of 20,000 citizens and devastated a significant portion of the city. The attack destroyed military ordnance worth approximately US$1 billion, with untold property damages in the surrounding area. Yet, it received almost no press coverage, perhaps in part because of the low number of casualties—to date, a single death has been attributed to the