This installment of Smarter Than You Think involves more controversy than the previous; Markoff has made it clear that his subjects are killing machines. Because of the focus on military, the Army plays a large role in the article, even showing up in the lede. Markoff has opted for an unconventional lede, but the lede also stands out among unconventional ledes, since it actually summarizes the story in a single paragraph.
To explain the use and beneifts of military robots, Markoff focuses on a few different examples, including the Robotics Rodeo. These give opportune chances to evoke some action in the article, which spices up the reading and can energize the potentially dull focus on robotics. Displaying the robots in action also gives readers a fair idea of what exactly the robots are capable of, which is important when judging the efficacy of the robots and their potential dangers.
Markoff has snagged some choice quotes, especially from inside the robots field. Dyer, as COO, is an incredible authority, while Wallach provides a nice balance and raises some good concerns, which Markoff can expand upon later.
In fact, Markoff dedicates most of the article to the controversy surrounding the use of artificial intelligence in combat situations. Markoff’s inclusion of the current uses of automation in the battlefield also show the nuances of the technology, including the possible dangers the Predator system already poses.
After the involved discussion of the risks of robots on the battlefield, Markoff ends on a slightly ambiguous note, with the story of QinetiQ, which is deploying robots currently, yet also had previous problems with its robotics system. He ends with the Malinowski quote, which is a good balance.