Killer Robot Warning

The BBC article Killer robots: Experts warn of ‘third revolution in warfare’ is tragic.

More than 100 leading robotics experts are urging the United Nations to take action in order to prevent the development of “killer robots”.

They don’t realize that that bridge was crossed over long ago. Automated weapons systems that can make the call as to fire or not are already in the field. Anyone can buy the systems of-the-shelf right now. Look into the Kalashnikov systems.

The 116 experts are calling for a ban on the use of AI in managing weaponry.

The scientists are about ten years too late.

The article says that the technology does not already exist. The article is completely wrong. I’ve played with the open source AI systems, the best for me is TensorFlow. There are others, but it is the one that has balanced capability with accessibility in a way that I may be able to work with. Believe me, an idiot can construct a basic AI with an attached weapons system.

The UN can’t stop it. The BBC can’t stop it. The movie The Terminator put it best:

It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop… ever, until you are dead!

Why automate? Obviously military thinkers are not trying to screw the pooch so there are reasons for automation;

  • AI controlled weapons systems will not sleep.
  • An automated weapons system that has no human crew reduces exposure of our troops.
  • Automated systems have no medical plans.
  • Automated systems are very much a fixed cost.
  • Automated systems are THEORETICALLY more consistent than living troops.
  • Automated systems will carry out their function in any environment.
  • They can react with speed that humans can not. Who would not want our troops protected by flash deployable AI weapons systems?

The cons come down to a few basic points;

  • AI can be hacked. Your “troops” have just changed sides…
  • AI can not be reasoned with. Any event outside of their programming could be lethal.
  • AI is not humanity. Do we want machines that decide on the kills shots?
  • If you don’t trust your leaders, and you really should not ever really trust your leaders, can you trust the AI that they control? Accountablity is such a slippery concept when one can say “the robot did it!”
  • Understand that AI sees casualties and munitions as numbers. They have no soul, they don’t have a concept of good and evil.

I submit a scenario that illustrates these concepts is as follows;

  1. Bad guys line up a bunch of prisoners and child hostages.
  2. They march them towards the border post that has a weaponized AI package.

Think about it, an AI that wouldn’t fire in those circumstances would be useless. Some would say, yes, but a central command could override the AI.

First issue: What is communications is cut off? If communications are cut off, do you really want a weapons system that just gives everyone a free pass? I don’t think so! Thus, if communications are cut off, get the body bags and a bunch of sponges ready…

Second Issue: Lets say communications are not cut off. If the central command will override the AI, why have the weapons system in the first place? Simple logic, if you have a weapons system defending an area, it must fire or it has no reason to be there. If all it takes is a few hostages to get past the weapon system, your AI just became more useless than a Timex Sinclair 1000 without a power brick…

I read the following somewhere:

“An AI that can’t pull the trigger is useless. An AI that can pull the trigger can not be trusted.”

Summary: The systems exist and there is no stopping the technology. The U.N. is, was, and will always be a joke and are not really an issue in any case. Understand that the world has changed while everyone slept…

Let freedom ring, baby!

Killer Drones – What could possibly go wrong?

Wonderful news from the Daily Mail, Bill could see Connecticut police use drones armed with LETHAL weapons in a first for the US.

The first thing I said to myself when I woke up this morning was “wouldn’t it be nice for politicians to be able to kill anyone with the push of a button”? What a GREAT idea! No more pesky problems from those doubting Thomases who are sick of paying for corruption! No more question about campaign financing! No more static about H-1B abuse!

“The bill would ban the use of weaponized drones, but exempt police.”

Thank goodness! The last thing I want is the unwashed masses killing people with a drone! Only the most holy of holies, the political class, should have such powers of life and death at the push of a button!

If anyone raises a fuss, the politician can drone their ass!

“Officers also would have to receive training before being allowed to use drones with weapons.”

Safety first! I have to respect that.

Thank goodnes we will be able to say that we are joining countries like Iraq and India, who already use their own killer drones.

Taking my tongue out of my check now.

Here are some of the issues as I see them;

  • Maintaining absolute control and not having an outside interest take over the drone.
  • Absolute tracking as to who is responsible when the shot is fired. I don’t want the Chicago shuffle when it is time to find out just who authorized and who took the shot!
  • Lets say the police have drones. What is to stop me from obtaining a drone that looks vaguely similar, painting it to appear just like the police drone, and then popping a cap in someone’s ass?
  • Privacy? What is that? Some ancient custom that no longer exists?
  • Does anyone doubt that the federal government will want the ability to override local control, “in case of emergency”?

On the other side of the ledger, I can see many good possibilities. Every action can be and MUST be videoed for later review. Lets take an area where drugs are being sold. Use the drones to video each and every bad guy and arrest them at your convenience. Have a riot and need to CLEARLY video the bad guys? Send in the drones. You can also shoot the nastiest offenders and teargas the rest. Have a flash mob of twenty people stealing from a store? Send in forty drones to follow them home and arrest them at your convenience. Want to find out where the meth labs are? Send out the drones with appropriate sensors. A little kid or an old person with Alzheimer’s has wondered off? Drone grid search is the way to go.

If you want to really stir the poop, ask the following question: “when do the armed drones take over border enforcement?”

The truth is that the police can not continue as they have in the past. It costs too much to police the old fashioned way. The drones will probably become an absolute necessity within twenty years. That is a guess. If you have a better idea of the timeline, good for you. Drones will also reduce the number of officers. That will mean less expenses for pensions and payroll.

It isn’t a question of if, but when the armed drones will be in play. I just hope the political class truly understands the potential Pandora’s box that this technology can be.