I first discovered the Warbots series in 1988 when there were only two books on the market. As someone who would eventually become a physicist my brain has always intrigued by topics such as the ones in this book series, even when presented fictionally. When I first read the series I thought long and hard about it the concepts involved. At the time everything in it seemed like it was technologically impossible. Nevertheless, G. Harry Stine hooked me in and made me surrender to each of the twelve books that would ultimately make up the series.
He did it by bringing to light, in a page-turner kind of way several topics we now either take for granted, or still debate.
Would the military ever really allow itself to become dependent upon robots for conducting combat operations?
At the time I thought it would never happen. Robots were simple things at this point in time, banks still had tellers, and we all used dial up internet (usually from AOL) – if we used internet at all.
Artificial Intelligence was not a new topic, but mostly it was something we saw in movies, and used to scare us. The Hal-9000 decided that it knew best, Terminators came back in time to kill, and our imaginations ran wild.
That was then.
This is now.
Our military does indeed depend upon robots, only we call them drones.
Some of them are even armed.
There is even a murmur of a human (at least for Americans) free battlefield. Although we don’t mind using our robots (errr drones) to kill humans while our humans are safely thousands of miles away.
Would it surprise you to learn that the drones flying around the Middle East today are flown by pilots near Las Vegas?
It is true.
Would it surprise you to learn that object recognition, and facial recognition are now common commodity items for the AI community? Probably not. Those technologies are now off the shelf. I used one a few minutes ago to check my bank balance.
When these books were written they were speculative, but dang if G. Harry Stine didn’t get close to what is going on now, thirty years later.
But wait, there’s more!
What about these Middle East terrorists who were dumb enough to take on a massively superior military? Surely, we thought in 1988, no one would be that dumb, using weapons so many generations behind those of the United States that they couldn’t possibly win a war. Or would they?
Yes, he got that one right also. He gave us a fictional version of something close to what we see today. In my opinion he’s still half a generation in front of the problems we are facing now, and in time he may be proven absolutely correct.
He even brought the topic of women in combat up. It was a theme in the book. Guess what? When women were put into a combat situation they did as well as the men. Better in some cases.
I know someone, somewhere out there is going to say yeah but what if they have to lift xxx lbs…Well guess what, if you have a robot next to you that does the heavy lifting (even for the men) who cares. I dare you at this point to go see Boston Robotics website and see how close that actually is.
Anyway, back to my point.
A few years ago I wanted to read these books again as a potential influence for some of my own writing, and when I found out I couldn’t get new copies of these books (as my copies were long gone) and I was upset.
I wanted to read them again. I poured into my favorite used book websites and found they were actually even hard to find there. So, I went on a quest. To find out who had the rights. It took a bit of work, but I found it. Bill Stine, the son of G. Harry, who has followed his father into the model rocketry world, was the answer, and thankfully supportive.
I am proud to be part of getting these books back out on the market, and I want to thank Bill Stine for allowing it.
I think the contents of these books will stick in reader’s brains and if they don’t they will certainly make you think. I hope you enjoy them as much today as I did 30 years ago.
The first few are now back out on the market after much hard work, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Warbots book 1 can be found on Amazon in Print, Kindle and Audible formats.