As the global drone arms race proceeds, we are now reaching the threshold where the competition to acquire drones is about to transform into who has the most, who has the most lethal, and who can properly incorporate autonomous functions to build the next generation of robotic warfare and dominate the planet.
As an indication of how close we are to runaway drone wars, one only has to observe the mainstream press treatment that the Pentagon has been receiving lately. The Washington Post has been leading the way as the platform for the Pentagon’s new round of “revelations” about their own capabilities and what they expect the future battlefield could look like if enemy threats aren’t fully addressed.
In the Post’s article “Veil of secrecy lifted on Pentagon office planning ‘Avatar’ fighters and drone swarms” a program called Perdix is presented to the public with the following statement from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, which clearly highlights an open propaganda campaign:
Carter’s disclosures raised some questions in the Pentagon about whether he had revealed classified information while previewing his 2017 budget. But in a rare interview, the director of SCO said the secretary sought a green light to disclose snippets of the mini-drone experiment in Alaska and a few other programs as part of a broader effort to get the attention of potential adversaries. (emphasis added)
With this as the backdrop, the Washington Post’s latest article “The killer robot threat: Pentagon examining how enemy nations could empower machines” offers the requisite combination of truths, half-truths, and outright lies that make up all effective propaganda.
Firstly, it is worth noting that any and all concerns from tech luminaries such as Elon Musk, or the normally heralded Stephen Hawking, right down to actual robot manufacturers who have come out to warn of the existential threat faced by killer robots have all been severely downplayed and even mocked by the media and military establishment. In fact, a supposed debate at the UN about the dangers posed by artificial intelligence has repeatedly stalled. This alone ought to raise concerns about the Pentagon’s newfound urgency to discuss this issue.
In the video below, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work speaks with Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius. Ignatius has been virtually tied to the hip of the military establishment throughout its various debacles, indicating that, indeed, some high-level propaganda is on the way.
What we find is, in fact, the same disingenuous line of reasoning that has been the hallmark of the U.S. military’s interventionist policies around the world. Namely, that the U.S. is somehow in need of playing catch-up to the (always unforeseen) dastardly misuse of weapons by “rogue nations.”
This need to catch up is formally known as an “Offset Strategy” – of which this latest warning becomes part of the “Third Offset Strategy.” This concept completely ignores the fact that the U.S. is the only nation to have used the nuclear weapons they supposedly developed as the first offset; that they have lied to get into wars resulting in mass civilian casualties despite the second offset which employed GPS to more accurately guide weapons systems; and, now, after directing the development of drones and autonomous weapons systems, they are issuing warnings about “competition with authoritarian regimes” that might not build in proper ethical restraint.
If we follow this through from past historical examples, we can only expect that, once again, the U.S. is slated to be the progenitor of misuse, not the true offset. In short: Problem-Reaction-Solution.
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It is more likely that these Pentagon warnings are actually coming in response to a public that is increasingly voicing their opposition to killer robots rather than the response to a true threat from abroad. However, we do have to keep in mind the type of genie that has been let out of the bottle. Even supposedly democratic nations like Japan have sought to change their constitution in order to accommodate the use of drones beyond their borders, and perennial “adversaries” such as China have fully embraced killer robots as ironically being the solution to stopping terrorism. Meanwhile, coming up in October off the Scottish Coast will be the largest drone war exercise to date, dubbed “Unmanned Warrior 2016.”
So, as Defense Secretary Robert Work tells us, it’s all about “reveal and conceal” – on the surface he is speaking about propagandizing our enemies, but it’s also a tacit admission that the general public is at the mercy of whatever messaging is deemed necessary to invoke their sympathies. Despite a questionable history, we are urged to believe that the Pentagon remains the world’s voice of reason and restraint amid new technology that could potentially spiral out of control.
“We will not delegate lethal authority to a machine to make a decision,” Work said. “The only time we will… delegate a machine authority is in things that go faster than human reaction time, like cyber or electronic warfare.”
Or if the enemy makes the first move and forces the U.S. to respond?
Did he just call the F-35 jet a “battle network node”? Yes, yes he did. Here is what the U.S. is already planning the future battlefield to really look like … slightly beyond the Defense Secretary’s humble statement that they are still trying to figure things out.
Here is some additional information about the ethics of lethal robotic systems.
If you agree that killer robots are a true threat, not only from foreign nations, but from forward development by U.S. defense contractors, please visit The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and share this information.
Hat Tip: ZenGardner.com