The Mad MUSIC of Machine Warfare

Future Combat Systems

Activist Post

The symphony of destruction continues to get louder, as an unabashed war project has been named MUSIC.

We have been discussing drones almost ad nauseam as of late, because a dystopian science fiction plot has entered our reality whereby machines have not only supplanted humans on the battlefield, but they have become autonomous — they can work together and make decisions on their own.

If the use of drones to unilaterally bomb six countries from thousands of miles away doesn’t get people’s attention, then perhaps fleets of weaponized surveillance drones with the ability to communicate amongst themselves and wage war independently will.

The MUSIC project officially integrates unmanned and manned aircraft in combat, and was put on display with the largest showcase of “aircraft interoperability” to date:

“…all have the capability to shoot and stream live video. These aircraft also possess the ability to exchange and use the information as needed, whether it is to conduct surveillance or reconnaissance of a given area.”

This interoperability creates a Universal Ground Control Station, or network of drones and their payloads.  In addition to the dangers presented by this technology and its use in undeclared wars, a single operator can orchestrate movements on the platform.  This would seem to greatly increase the negative effects of operator error or abuse.

A single operator is then able to take control of a given payload, or sensor, on the aviation platform by using the One System Remote Video Terminal. The operator can steer the aircraft’s payload in any direction to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance of an area.

This fusion of multiple platforms is also slated to extend across the different branches of the military and can thus potentially play a concert of war between the aerial and ground drones of the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy:

Not only is MUSIC helping shape the future of CAB units and the Army but its creating connections across joint boundaries to include the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, said Maj. Gen. William T. Crosby, the Program Executive Office, Aviation.

The capabilities reported in the ASD press release are echoed in an article from the Washington Post today entitled A Future for Drones: Automated Killing.  This is where things begin to get creepy.  The drone network that is being set up is designed to conduct its mission without the need for human direction:

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.

As we reported last week, an additional capability is being added to keep the drone network aloft indefinitely using lasers to convert power from multiple sources.  Therefore, in the near future an unblinking, unfeeling, permanent matrix of war will confirm its target independently by data supplied to its sensors, orchestrate the attack plan between its member drones and robots, and execute the mission:

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.

Whoever said that machines can’t surpass humanity’s ability to make music?

Perhaps the better question is whether or not humanity will be around to hear the final note.

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