Killer Robots Inevitable, Resistance Futile

Over one thousands experts, professors, renowned intellectuals, Stephen Hawking, even Elon Musk, the unavoidable Noam Chomsky, and, ironically enough, plenty of the actors of the computer industry, have signed a naive, hypocritical, and ineffective letter to ban “autonomous killing systems” (the letter is to be presented soon). Their agenda? Mass distraction, to divert us from the real problem, while making us believe that they really care. If they really cared, they would promote the solution I advocate, the one and only.

They pontificate: “The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI [Artificial Intelligence] arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable.” Is that the key question? What about the CO2 crisis, with its melting poles and increasingly acid oceans.

Autonomous Killing Systems Already Exist, But Direct Democracy Does Not

Autonomous Killing Systems Already Exist, But Direct Democracy Does Not

As if there was not a continual Artificial Intelligence arms race? There has been one, since 1940, or so. And there better be, if democracies want to stay on top, and world war avoided. Automated killing machines are moving swiftly from science fiction to reality…

The deployment of such systems is – practically if not legally – feasible within years, not decades,

Excuse me?  The PHALANX anti-aircraft, and anti-missile system is an automated fire-control system enabling it to automatically search for, detect, track, engage, and kill. Entirely autonomously, yes. It’s nickname is “R2-D2”, from the half smart robot by the same name in Star Wars. All major capital ships of the USA, and those of 16 allies, are equipped with it. Each American aircraft carrier carries several, covering all approaches.

So what are the worthies talking about?

Nothing. They are just posing as good people. They want us to believe they deserve our trust. They are smart enough to know no state which can equip itself with autonomous killing systems will hesitate to do so. So their approach is both immoral, thoroughly hypocritical, and deeply ineffective.

Forbidding democracies to use autonomous killing systems will make those a monopoly of dictatorships. It’s a no-go approach, as far as any half-smart military is concerned.

So what is the correct approach, oh great know-it all?

Granted that democracies will be anxious to equip themselves with autonomous killing systems, be it only to save soldiers’ lives, how can we make sure such systems will not veer into the situation depicted in the Terminator or Matrix movies, where machines take over?

Very simple: Direct Democracy. Direct Democracy is the solution to rule over robots, not just plutocrats. If every citizen is involved in the utilization, and the decisions to use such autonomous systems, then we will be as safe as safe can be.

The worthies and their petition want to distract from the one and only obvious solution. Instead, they propose a pious, ill-informed vow. Which will make the deep state, the intelligence agencies, the military and its contractors laugh derisively, in the leading democracies.

Right now, very few individuals are in the know about how technology is used to subjugate human beings. A handful of Senators in the USA, a handful at the White House. The rest of those who know are in the military. As long as this goes on, the temptation to use technology to serve a few, and their robotic servants will be irresistible. The remedy is that we all be involved, and in control. We need wikicontrol.

Patrice Ayme’

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10 Responses to “Killer Robots Inevitable, Resistance Futile”

  1. John Rogers Says:

    You are absolutely 100% right.
    Direct democracy is probably the only thing that can halt the encroachment of the national security state that started in WWII with its surveillance, secret secret agencies and subversion of democracy (Guatemala, Chile and Iran, to name only three) in the service of capitalism.
    And thanks for the heads up on Phalanx. Didn’t know about that. Very neat system.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks, Roger! 😉

      Neat, indeed. Against a sea skimming missile made with composites going at 300 meters per second, Exocet style, the time between detection and mandatory destruction on the radar maybe as short as 6 seconds, so automated decision and execution is, indeed, mandatory… Yes, it’s astounding they did not know about Phalanx.

  2. dominique deux Says:

    Phalanx est déjà en train d’être remplacé. La France a déjà travaillé sur ce type d’armement mais semble attendre que la poussière retombe, en attendant elle se contente de ses systèmes Mistral bien que ce soit essentiellement une arme anti-aéronef.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Phalanx, “block 18” (Eighteenth version) is being deployed presently. Also power laser systems are also being (slowly) deployed. Present sea skimming missiles are high subsonic, but supersonic versions are contemplated. That would bring warning times to a couple of seconds…
      France has an anti-aeronef, anti-ballistic missile system. The USA does not have any… Although the “Standard Missile” can be used, and have been used, to shoot down… satellites.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Aster Block 30, v2 is capable of Mach 4.5, and extremely maneuverable. It can be used against Ballistic Missiles in a radius of 3,000 kilometers. British and Italian also have it.

    • Kevin Berger Says:

      From hazy memories, the actual combat uses of the Phalanx system so far do not make for such a stellar record; IIRC, one notable friendly fire incident with a downed plane (though I might be mixing up with the Patriot system), and a few notable misses, including recently a Hezbollah missile hitting an Israeli ship (well, apparently, the system was shut off), during the 2006 Lebanon war.
      And there was that Black sea incident, that quite agitated the “Russia Strong!” crowd, with a Russian plane buzzing an US warship after some EW trickery supposedly disabled its automated defence systems.
      Though, at least, even if it may not live up to its hype in actual high-intensity conflict, with all kind of available counter-measures for peers enemy to bypass it, the Phalanx type of automated defences do work as advertised, now including against mortar rounds and the likes which is certainly not the case so far for, say, the various Patriot iterations, AFAICT.

      Granted, I’m far from being even just a well-read dilettante on the subject, but AFAIK, the only such system that does work fine is the Israeli Iron Dome… with a major, unanswered question about the sheer basic sustainability of such networks. The Iron Dome is heavily subsidized by the USA, does make a lot of sense politically, is even managed intelligently as how it deals with threats, but, it is a rich man’s toy, viable only in a particular context of dealing with a strategical irritant.
      IE, it’s a gold-plated system to deal with a much poorer, much less (materially) resourceful enemy, using tech and money to offset political disadvantages (unpopular/hard to justify cabinet wars), at the cost of military sense (shooting down low-resources threats, using high resources responses).

      For the “democracies” to make a good, “sensible” use of such evolved tech, applied to warfare more broadly defined, the road taken should rather be to use tech and money to offset military disadvantages : numerous & much lower costs threats to scarce & very high cost targets (already well on its way, first with the anti-missiles ship systems, now with the “hard-kill” systems on Russian and Israeli tanks), down to and including the very basic “system” of warfare, the footsoldiers.
      As of today, apart from (maybe) a slight advantage in training, the “Western” soldier has no advantage, pound-to-pound, against his current enemies.
      Thanks to a piss-poor standards-setter (the USA, who are far from living up to their martial self-image), his weapons are not better (actually, the Soviet choices made decades ago, carry their own strenghts, and the PKM and Rpg alone are an over-match against any Western equivalency, and the trend carried over with the Russian and now Chinese choices, which are bound to proliferate as successfully…), what makes his organizational plus-value is proliferating wildly (comms, sights of all kinds, body armor,…).
      The infantry has not enjoyed any kind of technological gap vs. adversaries or potential adversaries, actually, it’s even the other way around.
      And, you are quite right, done intelligently (not as corporate welfare…), semi-autonomous or not, “bots” can and should be a way to regain some advantage for “democracies” in that context.
      Killer robots are the answer, not the problem, at least IMHO.

      Anyway, I’m not that hopeful, simply because, as noted above, the standards-setter for military procurement in the West are the USA, and their track record is horrendous, fed from self-blinding mythology (about WWII, about their own History), as well as corrupt and inefficient process (gone only worse as time goes by, cf. the F35 Thunderbolt). So what lies ahead in that road most likely is gold-plated, expensive junk that goes nowhere.

  3. Kevin Berger Says:

    As for the signatories, chalk it up to the times. This is the era of narcissism gone amok, from common displays (such as myself commenting on this blog, no denying it), to the extremes of the mass-media.
    This is the upper-class, intellectual equivalency of the US armed morons “volunteering” to “protect” US armed forces recruitment offices. It’s cosplay, it’s LARPing, it’s whatever you want, but it’s all about the ego of those involved.

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