Technology opens way for unlimited algorithm-run clashes of DIY terminators If robots are simply computers with wings (and missiles), then expect to see future wars fought by the descendants of flash-trading algorithms, with humans as anxious bystanders, one scholar says. Last month, NATO’s commanders in Libya went with caps-in-hand to the Pentagon to ask for reconnaissance help in the form of more Predator drones. “It’s getting more difficult to find stuff to blow up,” a senior NATO officer complained to The Los Angeles Times. The Libyan rebels’ envoy in Washington had already made a similar request. “We can’t get rid of (Moammar Gadhafi) by throwing eggs at him,” the envoy told the newspaper.
The Pentagon told both camps it would think about it, citing the need for drones in places like Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, where Predator strikes have killed dozens this month alone. So why doesn’t NATO or the rebels do what Cote d’Ivoire’s Air Force, Mexican police and college student peacekeepers have done — buy, rent or build drones of their own? The development of deadly hardware and software is leading to a democratization of war tech, which could soon mean that every army — private or national — has battalions of automated soldiers at their command.
“Drones are essentially flying — and sometimes armed — computers,” the Brookings Institution noted in a paper published last month. They’re robots that follow the curve of Moore’s Law rather than the Pentagon’s budgets, rapidly evolving in performance since the Predator’s 2002 debut while falling in price to the point where Make magazine recently carried instructions on how to launch your own satellite for $8,000. “You have high school kids competing in robotics competitions with equipment that 10 years ago would have been considered military-grade,” says Peter W. Singer, author of “Wired for War” and a senior fellow at Brookings, who predicts robots on the battlefield will be a paradigm-shifting “revolution in military affairs.” First comes the high-tech arms race with China, Israel and all the other nations competing to build their own drones. Then comes the low-cost trickle-down into low-tech wars like Libya’s, where tomorrow’s rag-tag militias fight with DIY drones.
Finally, if robots are simply computers with wings (and missiles), then expect to see future wars fought by the descendants of flash-trading algorithms, with humans as anxious bystanders. Flattening the battlespace Since the Predator first appeared above Afghanistan nearly a decade ago, the Pentagon’s inventory of drones has risen from less than 50 devices to more than 7,000. But the gap between the U.S. and its closest competitors may actually be shrinking. China, for example, has pinned its military ambitions on 2,000 missiles guided by target data from some two-dozen models of surveillance drones. The worldwide drone market is projected by the Teal Group to be worth $94 billion over the next decade, led by the Pentagon, which has asked Congress for $5 billion for next year’s expenses alone. One reason for the ballooning arms race between anywhere from 44 to 70 nations (depending on which estimate you believe) is self-interest. So far, the Pentagon has refused to share its toys, instituting tight export controls on drones such as the Predator or Reaper, both of which are made by General Atomics. Another is purely financial. An F-22 stealth fighter costs $150 million, roughly 15 times a top-of-the-line Predator. The U.S. military’s blank check of a budget — more than the rest of the world’s combined — means little and less when the cost of drones keeps falling.
But the most important factor may be doctrinal. Unlike the U.S., which is still feeling its way forward with robotic warriors while entrenched generals fight for their tanks and aircraft carriers, small nations with shrinking budgets stand to gain the most from embracing robotic warfare. “There’s no such thing as a first-mover advantage in war,” says Singer. “This technology is different than an aircraft carrier. You don’t need a big military infrastructure to use it, or even to build it. This is more akin to the open source movement in software. You’re flattening the battlespace, and the barriers to entry for other actors is falling.” Predator soars to record number of sorties Master Sgt. Steve Horton / Wikipedia Capt. Richard Koll, left, and Airman 1st Class Mike Eulo perform checks after launching an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle Aug. 7 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Koll, the pilot, and Eulo, the sensor operator, will handle the Predator in a radius of about 25 miles around the base before handing it off to personnel in the United States to continue its mission. Both are assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. Peak arms In 2004, French troops arrived in Cote d’Ivoire to help police a cease-fire in the country’s simmering civil war. Not expecting trouble, they left their air defenses at home. But on Nov. 4, 2004, a pair of Israeli-made Aerostar drones circled their base, reconnoitering targets for the Russian-made jets that bombed them a few hours later, killing nine soldiers and a U.S. aid worker. The drones belonged to an Israeli private military firm hired by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, who claimed (unconvincingly) that the whole thing was an accident.
Hiring drone-bearing mercenaries is easy when you’re a president; what about when you’re a college student? A year later, a trio of Swarthmore students formed the Genocide Intervention Network to help bring attention to Darfur. After raising almost half-a-million dollars in donations, the group solicited a bid from Evergreen International to remotely fly four surveillance drones above Sudan, documenting atrocities. Sadly, the price tag was a cool $22 million a year. (They passed.) Today, they would toss the project on Kickstarter and build their drone using Arduino modules developed by hobbyist sites such as DIY Drones.
In a recent essay, the consultant and futurist Scott Smith noted that both the “maker” movement and the Libyan rebels desperately hacking together weaponry are drawing on the same open source knowledge base. Or for that matter, so are the Mexican drug cartels assembling their own tanks and submarines. “We’ve come to a point where you put together a parallel system to the U.S. Department of Defense,” says Smith. And also to the point where the DoD is soliciting the hobbyists themselves to be the next generation of weapon designers via DARPA’s crowdsourcing effort, UAVForge.
“If I were at a major arms contractor, I would be worried about being disrupted,” Smith says. He wonders if the world is headed toward “peak arms,” in which open source, distributed, low-cost tools fatally undermine big-ticket weapons sales in all but a few cases (most of them involving the Strait of Taiwan). And that goes double for non-state actors, e.g. roll-your-own NGOs and drug cartels. “The era of large scale, run-and-gun DIY micro-warfare is just around the corner,” Smith concludes. The robot wars The trajectory of drones and warbots is the same as computing in general — smaller, cheaper, more ubiquitous. In February, AeroVironment unveiled the prototype of a hummingbird-sized drone that can perch on a windowsill can peer in. Insect-size is next. But the shift from a single pair of eyes in the sky to a swarm of bots would create havoc with U.S. military doctrine, which requires having a human operator at all times, or a “man in the loop.”
This is one reason why the Air Force is training more remote pilots this year (some 350) than bomber and fighter pilots combined. Then again, that’s not nearly enough for 7,000 drones, let alone 7 million, all of which would have the intelligence to fight or fly on their own, with faster-than-human response times. That’s why the definition of “in the loop” is blurring from direct human control “to a veto power we’re unwilling to use,” says Singer. In the case of missile defense systems already in use, “you can turn it on or off,” but you can’t pick and choose which bogeys to shoot. “The speed and complexity is such that the human interface has to be minimized to be effective,” he adds, which suggests the generals in “WarGames” were right all along. Or were they? Releasing increasingly autonomous warbots into the wild will demand new algorithms to command them, raising the specter of a “flash crash” on the battlefield as opposing algorithms clash and chase each other’s tails. Or what if hackers were to assemble a botnet for real: an army of machines ready to do their bidding? Perhaps a decade from now, there will be no “cyber war.” There will only be war.
[[[ *** RESPONSE *** ]]]
That is why infantry is outdated and Military Conscriptions especially FORCED Military conscriptions backed by fines or jail terms amount to nothing more than brainwashing (see Singapore for an example where conscientious objectors and self determinism is ignored JUNTA style). Automated jobs for jar heads. Shoot your own enemies in your own wars yourselves or build robots, don’t make us into robots. The part about launching own satellites is intriguing. Any retired or altruistic techs with the know how ready to launch an open source free cell phone service? The fees are too heavy and obviously enriching to the satellite telco companies. Time for a ” Communications Revolution ” against the tyranny of the telecoms plutocrats? ‘Guerilla’ TV stations based on Seasteading as a solution as well?
Try the below link for ideas on how to bypass the entire governance paradigm :
Excepts from @AgreeToDisagree and FB Commentators @Jun Lee, @Justin Ong and @Simon Hung – reposted late Feb 2012
Mind Sets / Exchange On Defense Issues
can i just be honest here. don’t you think you guys are being a little bit sissy? it’s just two years. i did it too, it wasn’t even anything close to being bad. i had fun, met great people, learnt many life skills from people who honestly love this country enough to dedicate their lives to her. i respected that, and i believe you should too. i’m not saying you all have to like the service like i did, but understand that everything exist for a reason and we all can’t expect all of you the understand it.
Like · · Unfollow Post · December 31, 2011 at 10:40pm
The cause we are fighting for is ‘human rights’. Admittedly, there are many people who scorn NS because they are scared of it or couldn’t face the challenge; however, there are also those who do not wish to serve NS (National Conscription Service – with no abstention option for citizens) for a multitude of other…See More
December 31, 2011 at 11:37pm · Unlike · 2
If abstentions are a part of NS, then could you dare someone to join NS and claim they were sissy if they did not join. But so long as there is no option, it is sissy to join without demanding that abstention option. Also even with abstentions, some of us would prefer a private training course with VIP treatment and REAL veterans from the USA. XE holds ‘Merc’ courses in SA, that sort of free form anime style mercenary band thing with long haired bandanna fist fights, would be much cooler that shaven heads and GAYNESS of uniforms. Given a choice anyone would choose joining a merc band than NS. But those with no choice can only refuse to serve and sit in jail to prove their point out of courageousness. It is sissy to toe the line you sissy.
January 2 at 2:44am · Like · 1
Jun Lee So what if biological guys are sissy? You wouldn’t say that to a biologically born female who refuses to serve the military by choice. Our male-mandatory national slavery is sexism . . I’d rather be a sissy than a disgusting smelly beastly military brute.
Friday at 7:28pm · Like
Justin Ong jun lee. you’re funny. you really are. i’m not even going to discuss your statement with you cause it makes me laugh.
Friday at 8:14pm · Unlike · 1
?* such is an example of our backward coercive gender-conservative hyper-machismo mindset that all *persons/individuals* born as a male should be thick, hairy and macho and be forced to conform to this silly artificial narrow and totally unnecessary gender-mold/stereotype in this day and age ; that any from of weakness and sign femininity in biologically male-individuals is deserving of mockery, disdain, harassment, insult, bullying, assault, etc. by pigs.
Friday at 8:49pm · Like
Justin Ong so i’m a backward red neck?
Friday at 8:53pm · Like
Huh? By the definition of “red-neck” , you are not Justin ; . . I wasn’t accusing you of being racist . . but rather, you’re simply being a gender-conservative sexist ; in the sense that you believe that all males should be coerced into thi…See More
Friday at 9:05pm · Like
and you based all of that just because you seem a bit sensitive when it comes to the word sissy? where by sissy means gay? i am no sexist, nor am i conservative, i don’t even live in singapore because it’s way to concern with norms and rule. i’m not saying you’re gay, but i have heaps of gay friends. enough about me, sorry if i offended you, but what i was trying to say is that it is a short two years. it doesn’t take long, and i know it’s not that bad. i just don’t see why we should make it an issue. accept the things you cannot change, and change the ones you can. simple rule to life.
Friday at 9:22pm · Like · 1
Justin Ong and marah freedom, what are you talking about….
” that sort of free form anime style mercenary band thing with long haired bandanna fist fights, would be much cooler that shaven heads” dude seriously Friday at 9:24pm · Like
?* Justin, ok that’s your view and I’ll respect that . . 🙂 That’s cool.
* I’m not gay, but rather I experience intense “Gender Dysphoria” ( wiki it if you may ) since very young ; a psychological “Transsexual” ( as recently diagnosed by my psychiatrist ) but who is trying not to “do” anything drastic, and be sensible with concern for my career and future due to how judgmental and conservative Singapore is . .
* Sorry if I came across as over-sensitive ; but I’ve been quietly dealing with such comments thrown at me ( in a negative/insulting/mocking way ) and I tend to “jump” and felt the need to vent all that pent up accumulated frustrations I guess.
* But as you can see why, NS has been a psychological and emotional hell for me ( one that I cannot expressed and have kept silent about at the time of deep self-denial and internalize fears/anxiety ) ; and further its like a double blow since I was struggling with the “negative” effects of puberty at the same time during that age.
* I do personally honestly view NS being only mandatory for males to be rather sexist and unfair though . . especially since how we are so under-appreciated and uncompensated it is . .
Friday at 9:35pm · Like
Justin Ong sorry to hear to that. and, well i don’t want my sisters to go though the army. they will not be able to take it.
Friday at 9:38pm · Like
Thanks for the respectful/mature responses thus far Justin. 🙂 However, isn’t society moving towards encouraging females to be independent, willful, and strong? If physicality is an issue :: I ( as an individual case ) wasn’t even physically fit to began with, even with all that pushups and exercising, I never gained much mass and remained at 48-52kg ; and I did take the training seriously and never tried to “chao keng” ( in spite of my immense dislike of becoming muscular ~ I feared being “marked” as a chao keng and just did as I was told like a zombie robot as all soldiers are meant to ). Had to redo BMT due to passing out many times. But yet, I still have to go through the training ( carrying weights heavier than myself ) ~ which worsened my back injury. I’ve also seen some females who are physically stronger than I am. Severely overweight guys who “can’t take it” still have to go through military service regardless. While some of the more physically masculine females ( which do exist ) don’t.
Further . . one of the arguments that I’ve previously made was that; if PES D/E biological males still have to serve NS as store-personals / clerks / technicians / nurses / other areas in combat where carrying excessive back-breaking weights isn’t frequently necessary for the fitter females, etc , then why not forcefully conscript PES A/B female-born individuals instead too ?
But more important, which needs to be stressed IMO, is my view that the male-mandatory should be a lot more fairly compensated than that it has; especially looking at the current situation with the difficulties of NS/Reservice-serving locals finding work with competitions from foreign talents. Here’s one such instance articulated on this current state of SG :: http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/stomp/sgseen/this_urban_jungle/908926/woes_of_an_overseas_grad_spore_doesnt_feel_like_home_anymore.html
And to note, I’m not currently in SG, nor am I doing re-service, being here in Australia working on my postgrad degree. However I’m just reacting to what I feel is an injustice done onto Singaporeans, especially those who have wasted their youth and sacrificed their studies/careers virtually uncompensated doing their time in NS ( especially towards those who have already served their time in the past ) ; and the displeasure of my personal experience with all that disgusting MCPs whom I’ve encountered within my camp.
Friday at 10:24pm · Like
Jun . . . I’d rather be a disgusting smelly beastly military brute WHEN NEEDED as well as your preferred sweet smelling sissy when needed.
WHY NOT BOTH as and when needed? BTW biological guys tend towards the smelly brutish type. Sissy is used as a name btw Justin, also stereotyping unwilling people amounts to bullying (guess who . . . )
– dude seriously – Aight Justine . . . mmm try Waterworld or MadMax types crossed with Letters of Marque and Privateering (can’t wait for the Airborne version privateer . . . ). Xe-Blackwater is the Infantry version (though they haven’t run a very tight operation where Human Rights abuses or accidents or black-op stuff is concerned – wanna run a merc operation? Run a clean one.). For style, watch ‘The Substitute’ (1996) one can imagine that Bay of Pigs was done exactly by people like these . . . , or for a wimped out version of ‘style’, try ‘Aliens 2’ (1986) though Napalm Death barring surfeit of cybernetic limbs or bodyparts ala Apotemnophilia (out of active thought not mental illness) par excellence, probably takes the prize. Jun * right back at u 2 – willful strong females are a sign of worsening times, it is a upper class luxury to live as ‘they will not be able to take it sisters’ and upper crust chivalrous minded to ‘don’t want my sisters to go though the army’, though the non-insular ‘out there’ type females in lower society will need to be strong willed and whatever with any males in that sort of position doubtless having more competitors even when breadwinning by females do not see females espousing the sense of paternalism ethics males of the older generation had.
Sad times really. And again, if citizens were to set up or be entirely militia in themselves (with the wealthier allowed to buy innovate and command their own tank battalions (Brad Pitt has a tank, some other plane collectors have a few squadrons worth – warbirding enthusiasts also . . . ) and ships (plutocrats who outfit super yatchs with armour and weapons effectively have warships – who needs Prince Harry to catch pirates when any rich guy with a bunch of bodyguards trained as mercenaries with a mind for extreme Ship-Modding and artillery can do the same) or artillery (technical stay at home types types, Admiral Boom – Mary Poppins 1964) and missile silos (nerds, Dr.Evil types – well not so evil probably they would have to inform the government for safety etc..), fundo families or plutocrats building bunker systems for themselves (might be required to build for 100 other people for everey 1 person capacity 99%-1% . . . as a spin off requirement), there would be no need of the taxpayer to pay for an army and feed that same army with their money. It’s all self funded, though discipline lessons and ethics training, psyche checks would probably be required for anything beyond small arms.
How about a Pig-‘furry’ who is a sissy. Have you considered the feelings or PC of talking like that? Besides your pro-sissy NLPs are abit too obvious to be effective. Let those who want to be sissy or piggy come out and say it for themselves instead of you ‘Jun’ the Faux-Non-Feminist-Strawman-Feminist (who might be an aging PAP ‘apek’ (geezer) rotting at home hoping to be picked to run in the next election because he cannot conceive running for election as an independent . . .) saying it for them, it’s pathologically manipulative y’know. Let MCPs have their space, militant feminists (M.F.s) as well (sure you’ll only get the sub-male types hanging around you, be prepared, they are a NEEDY lot, perhaps perfect to keep M.F. attention occupied than having them go around tearing apart traditional family types i.e. Yin is Yin, Yang is Yang . . . ). I mean it should be perfectly ok for male-persons to be ANYTHING including MCPs, not just sissies.
Jun Lee : ?~* Wasted 3 years of my life in unappreciated, uncompensated sexist male mandatory national service aka slavery imposed upon all of us expendable local “none-talents” ( 3-years including the waiting and pre-BMT training period ; not to mention the psychogical truama especially since I’ve been suffering and going insane from my Gender Dysphoria which has intensified since puberty ) ; sacrificing on the best part of our youths , studies and career ; and trying to adapt back into civilian live again thereafter with all the psychological damaged sustained for years after ( loss of thinking skill, forgotten most of what that has previously been learnt, struggling silently with numbing depression, OCD, anxiety and thought disorder ) ; having to waste time doing reservice ( imposing upon our civilian freedom in many fronts ~ have to cut hair stupid short , loss of work productivity , can’t sue if sustained severe injury during training , and less than adequate compensation be it transport or loss of commission or outputs and not to mention the immense inconvenience caused having to report to mindef , be in the company of MCP macho headed assholes again , and all kinds of insults like having to apply for exit permits on a yearly basis . .~* Foreign Talents :: Don’t have to go through all that male-mandatory NS / Reservice shit . .~* Proposal :: FTs and citizens who did not waste their time doing NS and re-service should pay substantially more taxes , to compensate for those victims who were born in the “wrong” biological-sex ( at least I think I am ) who were forced to do so./End Bitching