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Warrior Geeks: how 21st century technology is changing the way we fight and think about war

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Christopher Coker
Hurst (February 2013)

Warrior Geeks examines how technology is transforming the way we think about and fight war, taking three major changes that are driving this process: cybernetic technologies that are folding soldiers into a cybernetic system that will allow the military to read their thoughts and emotions and mould them accordingly; the coexistence of men and robots in the battle-spaces of tomorrow; and the extent to which we may be able to re-engineer warriors through pharmacological manipulation.

By referring back to the Greeks who defined the contours of war for us, Coker shows how we are in danger of losing touch with our humanity - the name we give not only to a species but the virtues we deem it to embody. The journey from Greeks to Geeks may be a painful one. War can only be rendered more humane if we stay in touch with the ancestors, yet unfortunately we are planning to subcontract our ethical choices to machines. In revaluing technology, are we devaluing our humanity, or the post-human condition, changing our subjectivity and thus the existential dimension of war by changing our relationship with technology both functionally and performatively?

  • Christopher Coker is Professor of International Relations at LSE.

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Reviews

'The Age of Martial Robotics is upon us and no one has captured the impending revolution in warfare with its accompanying moral dilemmas more incisively or eloquently than Christopher Coker. Warrior Geeks, his latest work on the subject of posthuman warfare, brilliantly exposes the divide between traditional Western military ethos and the inevitable rise of machine-based combat. An exceptional book.'
Everett Dolman, Professor of Military Strategy, USAF School of Advanced Air and Space Studies

'There are few writers who can do what Christopher Coker has accomplished in Warrior Geeks, which takes the reader on a journey that connects everything from Socrates to Oliver Stone movies to the latest in warfare and digital technologies. His work is always substantive, and sometimes even lyrical.'
Peter Singer, Senior Fellow and Director, 21st Century Defense Initiative, The Brookings Institution, and author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

'Coker’s deployment of wide-ranging sources in this stylish, accessible book is breathtaking. As he ranges across neuroscience, anthropology, cybernetics, history, psychology, philosophy, science fiction and literature with consummate ease, the sum of his erudition feels like a warning beacon as we anticipate the post-human world to come.'
Steve Redhead, Times Higher Education

'A compelling and erudite engagement with the momentous transformative effects that a seemingly ever-accelerating influx of technoscientific innovation is having on the practice and experience of war and, by extension, on humanity itself.'
Antoine Bousquet, Global Policy

'To describe a Coker book as an intellectual tour de force is perhaps the most anodyne observation a reviewer can make; of course it would be, and of course this one is, too. This latest offering is a rich synthesis of ideas and intellectual trajectories drawn from the annals of literature, philosophy, history, and science, and transmitted in a language that speaks as much to pop culture sensibilities as it does to the more esoteric and often impenetrable nooks and crannies of academe.'
Michael Innes, Current Intelligence

'A fascinating historical and philosophical tour of modern warfare. … The chief concern outlined by Coker is that the ingenuity driving military science is spiralling out of control. The ‘geeks’ are creating technologies — designer drugs, robotics and neural devices - that, ultimately, he feels, will dehumanize us.'
Nature

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Warrior Geeks