And not a moment too soon. We sure aren’t having any luck with the old-fashioned forms of fighting. Good thing General Patton is long in his grave, he’d be hanging his head in shame.
It’s an axiom. If you can’t win, change the game
And if you still can’t win, send in someone else. The someone else in this particular case isn’t fine young men of the current generation, it’s artificial intelligence (AI).
I like that. Our old-timey military intelligence kept getting its world-class, high-budget ass handed to it by the church-mouse-poor of third-world nations. It was damned embarrassing to keep explaining to my foreign friends at cocktail parties how it felt to be an American these days.
Troublesome, I would murmur and head for either another drink or another conversation. But once out of the friendly confines of the land of the free and the brave, as soon as someone surmised you were American, that slow grin would creep over their face that foretold one more swing at a pitcher who had lost his fastball.
So, we’ve done it. We’re changing the game
Or at the very least, the rules of the game.
A recent article in the Atlantic announces The Third Revolution in Warfare, stating that first there was gunpowder, then nuclear weapons and next, artificially intelligent weapons.
Well, they jumped ahead a bit, but the Atlantic’s always an accurate and interesting read.
First, we threw rocks at one another, then invented clubs (as soon as we could whittle), then came swords, then bows and arrows, followed by gunpowder and flame-throwers. Flame-throwers were really cool, incinerating an enemy once we invented napalm.
We got all the really good stuff first, because we’re an inventive nation and, given enough money, we excel at atomic bombs, land-mines, cluster-bombs, water-boarding and drones that kill entire wedding parties by remote control.
But somehow, we can’t get our heads around a cure for cancer, no matter how much money we throw at it. Maybe we ought to give Lockheed Martin a shot at it.
Autonomous, stay-at-home-and-kill-at-a-distance warfare
(Atlantic) “Autonomous weaponry is the third revolution in warfare, following gunpowder and nuclear arms. The evolution from land mines to guided missiles was just a prelude to true AI-enabled autonomy—the full engagement of killing: searching for, deciding to engage, and obliterating another human life, completely without human involvement.
“An example of an autonomous weapon in use today is the Israeli Harpy drone, which is programmed to fly to a particular area, hunt for specific targets, and then destroy them using a high-explosive warhead nicknamed “Fire and Forget.” But a far more provocative example is illustrated in the dystopian short film Slaughterbots, which tells the story of bird-sized drones that can actively seek out a particular person and shoot a small amount of dynamite point-blank through that person’s skull. These drones fly themselves and are too small and nimble to be easily caught, stopped, or destroyed.”
Wouldn’t you just know the Israelis would get there first. Fire and forget is such a soothing way to look at taking another person’s life. When you kill someone, you take away everything they ever were or ever hope to be. Think about that for just a moment, when you're in a park and watching your kids run around and fall down, laughing. Everything they ever were or ever hope to be. Then forget about it and try not to let it sneak into your dreams.
Now for the best part
“These “slaughterbots” are not merely the stuff of fiction. One such drone nearly killed the president of Venezuela in 2018, and could be built today by an experienced hobbyist for less than $1,000. All of the parts are available for purchase online, and all open-source technologies are available for download. This is an unintended consequence of AI and robotics becoming more accessible and inexpensive. Imagine, a $1,000 political assassin! And this is not a far-fetched danger for the future but a clear and present danger.”
You can make a pretty good case that if the climate disaster doesn’t kill us off first, modern and evolving AI military craftsmanship will soon enough have us back to throwing rocks at one another.
76 years after Hiroshima-Nagasaki
You can get the plans for an elementary atomic weapon from Popular Science Magazine—or was it Popular Mechanics, I forget. No matter, the fissionable material is kinda difficult to get and hard to handle once you get some. But slaughterbots at a thousand bucks a pop?
We’re back to the church-mouse-poor of third-world nations. In case you haven’t noticed, there are some very experienced hobbyists out there. And they have no need to transgress U.S. Customs at the airport, there are plenty of American targets handy in any country in the world.
Nobody knows who first said, “what goes around, comes around.” But Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We have guided missiles and mis-guided men.”
It seems to me that, as a species, we are dead-set to make of ourselves a dead set.
Image Credit: medium.com