A future for drones: Automated killing

A future for drones: Automated killing

By , Published: September 19

One afternoon last fall at Fort Benning, Ga., two model-size planes took off,
climbed to 800 and 1,000 feet, and began criss-crossing the military base in
search of an orange, green and blue tarp.

The automated, unpiloted planes worked on their own, with no human guidance,
no hand on any control.

After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed
images from an onboard camera, zeroed in on the tarp and contacted the second
plane, which flew nearby and used its own sensors to examine the colorful
object. Then one of the aircraft signaled to an unmanned car on the ground so it
could take a final, close-up look.

Target confirmed.

This successful exercise in autonomous robotics could presage the future of
the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy
based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine
aerial “Terminators,” minus beefcake and time travel.

The Fort Benning tarp “is a rather simple target, but think of it as a
surrogate,” said Charles E. Pippin, a scientist at the Georgia Tech Research
Institute, which developed the software to run the demonstration. “You can
imagine real-time scenarios where you have 10 of these things up in the air and
something is happening on the ground and you don’t have time for a human to say,
‘I need you to do these tasks.’ It needs to happen faster than that.”

The demonstration laid the groundwork for scientific advances that would
allow drones to search for a human target and then make an identification based
on facial-recognition or other software. Once a match was made, a drone could
launch a missile to kill the target.

Military systems with some degree of autonomy — such as robotic, weaponized
sentries — have been deployed in the demilitarized zone between South and North
Korea and other potential battle areas. Researchers are uncertain how soon
machines capable of collaborating and adapting intelligently in battlefield
conditions will come online. It could take one or two decades, or longer. The
U.S. military is funding numerous research projects on autonomy to develop
machines that will perform some dull or dangerous tasks and to maintain its
advantage over potential adversaries who are also working on such systems.

The killing of terrorism suspects and insurgents by armed drones, controlled
by pilots sitting in bases thousands of miles away in the western United States,
has prompted criticism that the technology makes war too antiseptic. Questions
also have been raised about the legality of drone strikes when employed in
places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, which are not at war with the United
States. This debate will only intensify as technological advances enable what
experts call lethal autonomy.

The prospect of machines able to perceive, reason and act in unscripted
environments presents a challenge to the current understanding of international
humanitarian law. The Geneva Conventions require belligerents to use
discrimination and proportionality, standards that would demand that machines
distinguish among enemy combatants, surrendering troops and civilians.

“The deployment of such systems would reflect a paradigm shift and a major
qualitative change in the conduct of hostilities,” Jakob Kellenberger, president
of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said at a conference in Italy
this month. “It would also raise a range of fundamental legal, ethical and
societal issues, which need to be considered before such systems are developed
or deployed.”

Drones flying over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen can already move
automatically from point to point, and it is unclear what surveillance or other
tasks, if any, they perform while in autonomous mode. Even when directly linked
to human operators, these machines are producing so much data that processors
are sifting the material to suggest targets, or at least objects of interest.
That trend toward greater autonomy will only increase as the U.S. military
shifts from one pilot remotely flying a drone to one pilot remotely managing
several drones at once.

But humans still make the decision to fire, and in the case of CIA strikes in
Pakistan, that call rests with the director of the agency. In future operations,
if drones are deployed against a sophisticated enemy, there may be much less
time for deliberation and a greater need for machines that can function on their
own.

The U.S. military has begun to grapple with the implications of emerging
technologies.

“Authorizing a machine to make lethal combat decisions is contingent upon
political and military leaders resolving legal and ethical questions,” according
to an Air Force treatise called Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047.
“These include the appropriateness of machines having this ability, under what
circumstances it should be employed, where responsibility for mistakes lies and
what limitations should be placed upon the autonomy of such systems.”

In the future, micro-drones will reconnoiter tunnels and buildings, robotic
mules will haul equipment and mobile systems will retrieve the wounded while
under fire. Technology will save lives. But the trajectory of military research
has led to calls for an arms-control regime to forestall any possibility that
autonomous systems could target humans.

In Berlin last year, a group of robotic engineers, philosophers and human
rights activists formed the International Committee for Robot Arms Control
(ICRAC) and said such technologies might tempt policymakers to think war can be
less bloody.

Some experts also worry that hostile states or terrorist organizations could
hack robotic systems and redirect them. Malfunctions also are a problem: In
South Africa in 2007, a semiautonomous cannon fatally shot nine friendly
soldiers.

The ICRAC would like to see an international treaty, such as the one banning
antipersonnel mines, that would outlaw some autonomous lethal machines. Such an
agreement could still allow automated antimissile systems.

“The question is whether systems are capable of discrimination,” said Peter
Asaro, a founder of the ICRAC and a professor at the New School in New York who
teaches a course on digital war. “The good technology is far off, but technology
that doesn’t work well is already out there. The worry is that these systems are
going to be pushed out too soon, and they make a lot of mistakes, and those
mistakes are going to be atrocities.”

Research into autonomy, some of it classified, is racing ahead at
universities and research centers in the United States, and that effort is
beginning to be replicated in other countries, particularly China.

“Lethal autonomy is inevitable,” said Ronald C. Arkin, the author of
“Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots,” a study that was funded by the
Army Research Office.

Arkin believes it is possible to build ethical military drones and robots,
capable of using deadly force while programmed to adhere to international
humanitarian law and the rules of engagement. He said software can be created
that would lead machines to return fire with proportionality, minimize
collateral damage, recognize surrender, and, in the case of uncertainty,
maneuver to reassess or wait for a human assessment.

In other words, rules as understood by humans can be converted into
algorithms followed by machines for all kinds of actions on the battlefield.

“How a war-fighting unit may think — we are trying to make our systems behave
like that,” said Lora G. Weiss, chief scientist at the Georgia Tech Research
Institute.

Others, however, remain skeptical that humans can be taken out of the loop.

“Autonomy is really the Achilles’ heel of robotics,” said Johann Borenstein,
head of the Mobile Robotics Lab at the University of Michigan. “There is a lot
of work being done, and still we haven’t gotten to a point where the smallest
amount of autonomy is being used in the military field. All robots in the
military are remote-controlled. How does that sit with the fact that autonomy
has been worked on at universities and companies for well over 20 years?”

Borenstein said human skills will remain critical in battle far into the
future.

“The foremost of all skills is common sense,” he said. “Robots don’t have
common sense and won’t have common sense in the next 50 years, or however long
one might want to guess.”

 

End Public Sector Unions…Period

End Public Sector Unions…Period

By C. Edmund
Wright

 

It’s about time.  I’ve been waiting for this debate to mature for 15 years.
The battles in Wisconsin and New Jersey over public sector union benefits
are merely financial precursors to a much bigger ideological war that has been
on the horizon now for years, if not decades.  When you acknowledge the coming
battle, you realize that Governors Walker and Christie — courageously as they
are behaving — are only nibbling at the edges of the real issue.
And the real issue is whether public sector unions should even be allowed
to exist.  Frankly, when even a modicum of common sense is infused into the
equation, the answer is a resounding no.  And the foundational reason is
simple.  There is no one at the bargaining table representing the folks who are
actually going to pay whatever is negotiated.
Gee, what could possibly go wrong?
Well let’s see what went wrong: California, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan,
Chicago, New York State, New York City, Wisconsin…on and on I could go
including almost every city and state where government workers are
unionized.
Oh, and have you seen pictures of Detroit lately?
The problem is that our country has been lulled to sleep over decades of
hearing that government workers are dedicated and low paid public servants who
trade good pay for security.  And every time a union pay debate came up, it
seemed like only cops and fire fighters and teachers were mentioned.  No one
stopped to think that most government workers are actually bureaucratic charmers
like those we see at the DMV and other government offices — and not “heroic
teachers” or crime fighters.
But as long as the private sector was humming along, there was no reason
for reality to permeate that myth in most peoples’ minds.  But the reality is
that government workers long ago passed private sector workers in pay and
benefits, and now the compensation is more like 150% or even double, factoring
in all the benefits, including more vacation days than private sector workers
enjoy.  And of course, the inestimable value of job security remains intact and
strengthened — while all of us in the private sector deal daily with the
risk-reward constraints of reality that are only getting riskier.
And along the way — with a public school teacher-educated population that
understands virtually nothing about economics — the sheer idiocy of the concept
of government unions escaped almost everybody.  It’s almost as if the union
teachers were lying to their students about economics on purpose.
Consider: Unions exist primarily for the function of collective bargaining,
where the union bosses will negotiate on behalf of all the workers with the
management of a company over pay and benefits and other conditions.  This
built-in adversarial relationship along with the realities of a limited resource
— known as operating revenues — do a pretty good job for the most part of
keeping contracts in line.
The union bosses represent the workers.  Management represents everybody
else, including the stockholders, vendors, customers and potential customers of
the company.  In other words, management represents everyone whose interests are
served by keeping payroll costs down.
In the case of a government workforce, those whose interests are served by
keeping costs down would include all who pay taxes and fees to said government.
In other words, the universe of folks represented by management is far larger
than that represented by the union.  This inherent tension is the invisible hand
of reality that keeps collective bargaining in line.
However, public sector “collective bargaining” is a bad joke, given that
there are only chairs on one side of the bargaining table.  The bigger universe
of interested parties have zero representation in the process.  There is no
natural force working to keep costs in line.
Moreover, quite often the very politicians who are “negotiating” with the
public unions are politicians who have been financed by those same unions.  At
least Bernie Madoff ripped off his clients with some panache.  No such style is
even required in a public sector union negotiation when the folks in charge are
bought and paid for Democrats.
Under any circumstances and in any economy, it is simply a matter of time
before these costs reach a tipping point.  We are at that time.  There is simply
no more money to give to these public sector unions — period.
And that is why we are seeing what we are seeing in Madison this week and
it is why we have seen the emergence of Chris Christie as a national
phenomenon.  And I welcome it.  Things are finally so bad — that they are
good.  And by good, I mean that folks now cannot help but pay attention to the
issue of public sector unions.
I submit that the very existence of these unions has only been allowed to
happen because it’s the kind of issue an electorate is never forced to confront
— until they are forced to confront it.  And now they are.  There is, as
Charles Krauthammer said, a bit of an earthquake in the country.  People are
sensing that the nation is spinning off a cliff.
And of course it is, and public sector unions are one huge reason why.
This conclusion is inescapable.  And when you understand that, you understand
that public sector unions cannot be allowed to exist.  If they are, we will
never turn back from the cliff.

Parts of AZ not under US control

Parts of AZ not under US control

Rick Moran

This report comes to us via Doug Ross and it may be an eye opener for some.

Did you know that there are parts of Arizona where the federal government has actually put up signs warning Americans that they are in a known drug corridor?

Did you know that despite calls for help from the county sheriff, the feds have ignored the situation?

Did you know that the writ of US law and thus our sovereignty does not run in these corridors?

Even a banana republic has better control of its borders.

Here’s an excerpt from the KGUN report:

It was just five weeks ago that deputy Louie Puroll was shot in a drug corridor in west Pinal County. On Sunday, more violence in the same area. Around 7:30 p.m. that night man calls 911 speaking Spanish. He says, “somebody shot me. While we were running.”

Sheriff Paul Babeu believes the caller was smuggling drugs with the second victim.

“A competing cartel or other people stole their product from them and also killed them,” Babeu said.

[…]

The sheriff admits the cartels are operating in his county and without the federal government’s help they can’t get control. KGUN 9 News asked Babeu flat out if cartels control parts of Arizona.

“Absolutely, they have in terms of the remote areas in the drug corridors in the desert here in west Pinal County. Our government has even erected signs warning citizens to beware this is a known drug corridor,” Babeu said.

When the 911 call came in deputies immediately started a search but found the two bodies shot to death after four hours of looking. In lieu of this violence Babeu is asking president Barack Obama to send 3000 National Guard troops to the border to help stop it.

“We can’t patrol not only these remote areas, we have a hard enough time just responding to our emergencies,”

What do you think the chances are that Obama will send that many Guard troops to restore order and re-establish the sovereignty of the United States government?

ASK DADDY ????????

Barack Obama, America’s Selective Salary Policeman

Lead Story

Barack Obama, America’s Selective Salary Policeman

By Michelle Malkin  •  April 30, 2010 09:39 AM

Barack Obama, America’s Selective Salary Policeman
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2010

President Obama spoke the most revealing and clarifying 10 words of his control-freak administration this week: “I think at some point you have made enough money.” Peddling financial regulatory reform at a rally in Quincy, Ill., Obama then ad-libbed peculiar definitions of what he called the “American way” and the profit motive: “(Y)ou can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.”

Fundamental lesson of Capitalism 101: Governments and bureaucrats don’t make what people want and need. They only get in the way. It is individuals, cooperating peacefully and voluntarily, working together without mandate or central design, who produce the world’s goods and services. They make what people desire and demand for themselves, not what Obama and his imperial overlords ordain that the masses should have.

As usual, Obama’s populist demagoguery is telling in its omissions and selectivity. While he lectures on the morality of salary caps for everyone else, his own cabinet is filled with fabulously wealthy CEOs and statist creatures who have parlayed government employment (a “good” service) into private gain as lobbyists, consultants and advisers (“core responsibilities of the financial system”) and then back again to public stints. Revolving doors have always grown the Beltway economy.

To wit: Austan Goolsbee, head of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, is the 15th wealthiest member of the Obama administration, with assets valued at between $1,146,000 to $2,715,000. He also pulled in a University of Chicago salary of $465,000 and additional wages and honoraria worth $93,000, according to the Washingtonian magazine.

What “good” did he provide? The government research fellow and Obama campaign adviser was a champion of extending credit to the un-creditworthy. In a 2007 op-ed for The New York Times, he derided those who called subprime mortgages “irresponsible.” He preferred to describe them as “innovations in the mortgage market” to expand the pool of homebuyers. Now this wrong-headed academic who espoused government policies that fed the housing feeding frenzy is in charge of fixing the loose-credit mess he advocated. This is the “American way”?

After 16 years in Congress, four years in the Clinton administration as budget director and chief of staff, and a lifetime of schmoozing in the halls of power, Obama’s CIA director, Leon Panetta, cashed in big. He’s sitting on up to $4 million in assets. While he has zero experience in intelligence matters, he has extensive experience in parlaying his past political tours of duty into lucrative speaking gigs, consulting fees and stock options. Welcome to Obama-approved entrepreneurship.

By Obama’s definition, first lady Michelle Obama is a model capitalist. Remember: After serving with real estate mogul Valerie Jarrett in Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration, Mrs. Obama took a post at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where Jarrett was serving as vice-chair of the medical center’s board of trustees. Mrs. Obama was promoted in 2005 after her husband won his U.S. Senate race with Jarrett’s invaluable aid. As “vice president for community and external affairs” and head of the “business diversity program,” her annual compensation nearly tripled from $122,000 in 2004 to $317,000 in 2005. Even after she went on leave in 2007 to help her husband on the presidential campaign trail, the hospital paid Mrs. Obama $62,709 in 2008, prompting one skeptic to ask: “We know this is Chicago, but isn’t $63,000 quite a lot for a no-show job?”

Jarrett, of course, is now White House senior adviser to the chief spender of other people’s money. And the first lady is now using her new taxpayer-funded position not only to tell folks how they should eat, but also which “good” restaurants and groceries should be built in their neighborhoods.

If there were any doubts left about the Obamas’ ideological commitment to wealth redistribution and a command-and-control economy, those doubts have been thoroughly removed. We have a commander-in-chief who presumes to know when you have earned “enough,” who believes that only those who provide what he deems “good” products and services should “keep on making it,” and who has determined that the role of American entrepreneurs is not to pursue their own self-interest, but to fulfill their “core” responsibility as dutiful growers of the collective economy.

That famous mock-up poster of Obama as the creepy socialist Joker never seemed more apt.

***

I love Scott Johnson’s succinct rejoinder at Power Line: “At some point you have grabbed enough power.”

The Ted Kennedy moral whitewash peaks today

The Ted Kennedy moral whitewash peaks today

Thomas Lifson
Today marks the high point of Ted Kennedy’s memory. The media’s lavish coverage of his funeral and burial day will be full of praise for the departed. But underneath the thin coating of whitewash lie some ugly incontrovertible facts which will not go away.

Mark Steyn has penned an unblinking yet witty look at the facts surrounding Chappaquiddick and the media, mocking Kennedy’s media enablers and the man they helped.  The distinct contrast between the line being fed by the media since Kennedy died and the widely known reality of the man has aggravated me, and I suspect millions of others who resent honoring a man of this moral character. There is an appetite building for the other side of the story, since the one we are getting is so obviously phony to at least half the populace.

 

Once Kennedy is buried, we will see another battle between the mainstream media and the conservative alternative media over his memory. The story of Kennedy’s offer to the KGB to work against President Reagan, 26 years ago, is only now capturing the public’s attention. AT contributor Paul Kengor uncovered the KGB documents and published them in his book The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. Tomorrow in AT, he will present those documents online and write about the media blackout on his findings first published three and half years ago.

 

The sugarcoating of Kennedy has started to make a lot of conservatives’ teeth ache. The MSM left is going to demonize anyone remembering the dark side, but I doubt they will be able to quell the public interest in this new story. Kennedy is about to be laid to rest on scared ground, in Arlington Memorial Cemetary. As Rick Moran points out today in AT, a single source document is not dispositive. But it is real, and it is suggestive of the dark side of Kennedy. There may well be further informnation coming to light on his past.

 

Conservatives should prepare themselves to be called monstrous, unfeeling, angry, unseemly, and worse, simply because we refuse to buy into the media manufacturing of a false image for this man. The question of whether or not he conspired with our enemies against the President of the United States is a major issue, and Professor Kengor has presented his impressive documentation, some of which you will see here tomorrow.

 

The MSM has lost its ability to quarantine a story. They tried to sell the Democrats’ line that town hall attendees were Nazis, and only damaged themselves and the Democrats in the process. If the media wishes to demionize those who want to know the truth about the deeply flawed man they are all but canonizing today, I suspect it will not work much better. Face it: wagering your dimisnished reputation on Teddy’s virtue is a loser’s bet.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/08/the_ted_kennedy_moral_whitewas.html at August 29, 2009 – 11:36:50 AM EDT

Election ’08 Backgrounder

  

Financial Crisis | Iraq | Defense | Background & Character | Judges & Courts | Energy

 

FINANCIAL CRISIS

Quick Facts:

  • Democrats created the mortgage crisis by forcing banks to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them.
  • In 2006, McCain sponsored a bill to fix the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Barney Frank and other Democrats successfully opposed it.
  • Obama was one of the highest recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donations in Congress.

Related Editorials

 

IRAQ


Quick Facts:

  • When the U.S. was on the verge of losing in Iraq, McCain chose to stand and fight.  Obama chose retreat.
  • Even after the surge succeeded, Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran he would still oppose it if he had the chance to do it all over again.

Related Editorials

 

DEFENSE

Quick Facts:

  • Obama has promised to significantly cut defense spending, including saying “I will slow our development of future combat systems.”
  • John McCain has vowed: “We must continue to deploy a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, robust missile defenses and superior conventional forces that are capable of defending the United States and our allies.”

Related Editorials

Obama Video: Watch Now

 

 

BACKGROUND & CHARACTER

Quick Facts:

  • Obama voted “present” 135 times as a state senator, and according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “gained a reputation for skipping tough votes.”
  • McCain has taken stances unpopular with his own party and/or the public on controversial issues, including immigration, campaign finance reform, judicial nominations, the Iraq War and more.

Related Editorials

 

 

JUDGES & COURTS


Quick Facts:

  • In a 2001 interview, Obama said he regretted that the Supreme Court “didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.”
  • In the same interview, Obama criticized the Supreme Court because it “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.”
  • Obama has focused on empathy, rather than legal reasoning and restraint, as his basis for appointing judges, saying, “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy…to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.”
  • McCain opposes judicial activism, saying, “my nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power.”

Related Editorials

Obama 2001 Interview: Listen Now

 

ENERGY


Quick Facts:

  • McCain has proposed building 45 new nuclear plants by 2030 and is in favor of drilling in sectors of the Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Obama has refused to take a stand, saying only “we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix” and he will “look at” drilling offshore.

Related Editorials

»
McCain: The Energy Candidate

» McCain On Nukes: Yes We Can
» Breaking The Back Of High Oil

 

Posted in ABC, Abortion, Accountable America, ACLU, ACORN, Ahmadinejad, Al Gore, Alinsky, American Civil Liberties Union, American Fifth Column, American Friends of Peace Now, American values, anti-American, Anti-Semitic, anti-war movement, antisemitism, ANWR, ANWR oil, AP, AP/CNN, Associated Press, Atomic Islam, B Hussein Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Barney Frank, Barry Soetoro, Bill Ayers, Bill Clinton, Black Nationalism, border security, CBS, CBS evening news, CBS news, Charlie Rangel, CHAVEZ, Chavez-Castro, Christian Voices, christian vote, Cindy McCain, CNN muslim sympathizers, CNN pro islam, Congress, Credit Crunch, Democrat Communist Party, Democrat corruption, Democrat george soros, democrat half truth, democrat lies, democrat muslim, democrat polls, Democrat Presidential debate, democrat scandals, Democrat Shadow Government, democrat socialists, Democratic Corruption, Democratic majority, democratic morals, Democratic socialism, Democratic Socialists of America, Democratic traitors, Democrats and drilling, Democrats and Earmarking, democrats and global Warming, democrats and illegal immigration, Democrats and Subprime mortgages, Democrats and talk radio, Earmarking, earmarks, Fairness Doctrine, Fannie Mae, Fatah, Freddie Mac, free speech, George Bush, George Soros, GOP, GOP leadership, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood liberals, Howard Dean, Hugo Chavez, human trafficking, Hussein Obama, Iran, Iran revolt, Iran threat, iraq, Iraq jihadists, Iraq Oil, Iraq surge, Iraq War, Islam, islam fundamentalist, Islam sympathizers, Islamic Fifth Column, Islamic immigration, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Israeli Jets, Jeremiah Wright, Jimmy Carter, Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, Joe the Plumber, John Conyers, John Kerry, John McCain, John Murtha, Katie Couric, Keith Ellison, left-wing hatred for George W. Bush, left-wing ideologues, Leftist Claptrap, Liberal Churches, liberal jihad, liberal media, McCain, McCain Palin, Mexican migrants, Michelle Obama, middle east, Middle East War, Middle Eastern affairs, Nancy Pelosi, nation of islam, Nazi Pelosi, NY Times, Obama, Obama Jackboots, Obama Tax Plan, Sarah Palin. Leave a Comment »