Young Soldier Uses Xbox Skillz to Become Ace Drone Pilot in Iraq

An 18-year-old soldier parlayed hand-eye coordination skills he gained playing Xbox into a key asssignment with the Army’s drone aircraft section, says author P.W. Singer.

Democracy Now! has posted an interview with Singer, whose latest book is Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. Of the young gamer-soldier, Singer said:

AMY GOODMAN: The relationship with games? You write that the best pilot is an eighteen-year-old kid who trained on an [Xbox] video game…?

P.W. SINGER: Yeah. He was actually a high school dropout who wanted to join the military to make his father proud. He wanted to be a helicopter mechanic. And they said, “Well, you failed your high school English course, so you’re not qualified to be a mechanic. But would you like to be a drone pilot?” And he said, “Sure.” And it turned out, because of playing on video games, he was already good at it. He was naturally trained up. And he turned out to be so good that they brought him back from Iraq and made him an instructor in the training academy, even though he’s an enlisted man and he’s still—he was nineteen.

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