Steam Decks are now being used to remote control gun turrets in the Ukraine Army.
At a glance, this is a smart way to man turrets and positions without risking warm bodies, so this strategy totally makes sense. This is made possible by a special kind of turret, the Shablya, Ukrainian for the word saber, which was developed by the Ukrainian company Global Dynamics. They are equipped with thermal imaging and a range finder, PC Gamer reports, and can handle a number of different weapons including machine guns and grenade launchers. These were developed through a 2015 crowdfunding campaign that raised about $12,000 to build and maintain about 10 of these turrets for the Ukrainian military.
The price of a single Steam Deck is also probably a lot cheaper compared to what a military-grade gadget that does the same thing would probably cost as well. Assuming they went for the cheapest version, for about $399, it would only require a bit of computer and software know-how to set them up and interface with the turret. It's a pretty inexpensive solution to what would otherwise cost the army a fortune.
So far, however, these Steam Deck-controlled turrets haven't been tested yet on the field, as the Ukraine army continues to experiment with these turrets.
This story reminds me a lot of Ender's Game. So long as the person holding the Steam Deck doesn't know that what they're controlling is a real turret and what they're shooting at are real people, then it should take a lot of mental toll off that person; but at the same time, would anyone really want to deceive someone like that? I don't think so, and I hope ethics remains on the table when discussing improvements in the military like this. Of course, I also doubt that anyone would be handling this equipment without knowing for sure what they actually are, so this point isn't that concerning, either.