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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Inside risks: Computers as substitute soldiers?

Technological edge has been sought throughout military history, and today's versions of the longer lance are the computerized, integrated systems that reach pervasively into enemy space. They are intended to provide efficiencies in information gathering, processing, and disseminating so that a minimal number of humans can prevail against an enemy. The 1991 Gulf War encouraged belief in the power of electronics to defeat numerically large enemies with small friendly losses. The allies used the magic of complex electronics to pound away at an Iraqi army of over a half-million soldiers. A vision was seemingly confirmed: that those with the best computer systems will win by seeing furthest, targeting best, moving quickest, and blasting most precisely.

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