Warbot 1.0 Book Review

Updated: Dec 10, 2020



By Sean Acosta


As the United States National Security Strategy pivots to Great Power Competition with near-peer adversaries, the race towards the weaponization of technologies and information platforms has ensued - eerily reminiscent of the Cold War arms race. This leaves national security officials and US military commanders searching to answer the questions, “What would a future war with a near-peer adversary look like and how would it be fought using contemporary and future technologies?”


In his recent novel, Warbot 1.0: AI Goes to War, Brian Michelson answers these questions by describing a future war involving China, America, and the Philippines. This fictional novel, set in 2033, forecasts the results of current Asia-Pacific geopolitical affairs and China’s rapid expansions of influence under the guise of economic assistance to impoverished or corrupt governments. Fed up with economic extortion and recent attempts to dominate the region, the recently elected Republic of Philippines President attempts to eject Chinese military forces from its borders.


The novel’s multilayered story line portrays a conflict involving artificial intelligence, future technologies, the leadership challenges inherit in their tactical employment, and how technological advancements will shape future military strategies. In a time of rapidly evolving military use of information technologies, Brian reveals the challenges of future combat engagements through the lens of tactical battles and the strategic employment of technology.


Melded among the technology, Michelson highlights the importance of human decision-making while operating machines. What has been true since the earliest forms of war – human intuition and experience are paramount in combat – remains true today and will so in the future, despite the integration of artificial intelligence. Written from the perspectives of US and Chinese tactical and operational commanders, the novel explores not only the combat advantages and disadvantages of AI and information technologies, but also the potential for military commanders to become over reliant upon them.


This book is a great addition for policy makers, security enthusiasts, or military members. Its exploration of what may come is a heartening eye-opener to the challenges in front of us.


About the Author:

Sean Acosta is a Civil Affairs Noncommissioned Officer that has experience leading soldiers and small teams in Afghanistan, Africa, and the Caribbean. He can be found on Twitter @Sean_A_Acosta or on LinkedIn.

The opinions, conclusions and recommendations expressed or implied above are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of any organization or any entity of the U.S. government.

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