Extrapolation

EMSIAC Wars

Re-inserting the Human in Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo

Extrapolation (2020), 61, (3), 249–267.

Abstract

Bernard Wolfe’s dystopian satire Limbo (1952) remains a critically under-discussed work, and despite its many controversies, offers important insight into the ethical dilemmas surrounding modern-day drone warfare and human-machine relations. While the EMSIAC war computers in Limbo may be blamed for World War III, they are only ever a scapegoat to shift blame away from the humans who follow orders blindly, and themselves behave much like machines. To this end, this paper will explore the ethical implications of Wolfe’s novel and what it means for the way we wage wars with robotic drones controlled by humans from afar.

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Works Cited

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Morris, Steven. “Marine A, Who Killed Wounded Taliban Fighter, Released from Prison.” The Guardian, 28 Apr. 2017, www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/apr/28/marine-a-alexander-blackman-released-from-prison. Accessed 17 Oct. 2020. Google Scholar

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Schuster, Carl O. “Lightning Bug War: Over North Vietnam.” Vietnam, vol. 25, no. 5, 2013, pp. 48-55. Google Scholar

Seed, David. American Science Fiction and the Cold War: Literature and Film. Edinburgh UP, 1999. Google Scholar

Singer, P. W. Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. Penguin, 2009. Google Scholar

United States, Defense Science Board. Task Force Report: The Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems. Defense Science Board, 2012. Google Scholar

Wolfe, Bernard. Limbo. 1952. Gollancz, 2014. Google Scholar

Zachary, Pascal. Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century. The MIT Press, 1997. Google Scholar

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