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Military robots are getting smaller and more capable (economist.com)
138 points by prostoalex 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 123 comments



Something even more terrifying to me is illuminated by a talk from John Sotos who served as Chief Medical Officer for Intel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKQDSgBHPfY

"...defensive technology always lags offensive technology. So you know, the cancer moonshot I would propose is dual use, just like nuclear weapons and nuclear power, two sides of the same coin. The ideal cancer treatment someday is going to be the doctors biopsy your tumor, get a sample, send it down to the lab, the lab will figure out the genetic signature of your exact cancer tumor. Then somebody will build a virus, that using that if-then statement, only targets the cancer cells in you. They'll put that virus inside you, you'll feel like you have a cold for a few days, the virus will go to work destroying your cancer, and then you'll wake up cancer free. That's a pretty good deal, we all want that to happen.

But notice this exquisite targeting overcomes that big drawback against bioweapons. So the new technologies are going to allow incredibly targeted bioweapons. So think about three different axis. Who might you target?...you could also target a family, like the royal family. You could target a group of people, or an entire species."

He goes on to describe examples of what he asserts will be possible to do, which is target virtually any identifiable characteristic among a life form, or cause practically any sort of deficiency or alteration within cells.

He also points out that Biotech is currently outpacing Moore's Law, and this technology will likely become extremely cheap extremely fast.


I have a friend who's doing a PHd in building logic gates in bacterial DNA so you could program, say, E. Coli to do specific things in the body. Learning about her research is astounding, fascinating, and terrifying all at the same time.


Nearly ten years ago I ran into a researcher from UCSF who was working with StemCells where she had designed a fluid-matrix that she 3D printed, then wrote a python program to control valves which released certain proteins to the cells to determine how to get them to express into a certain type tissue/organ cell.

I just point out how cheap off the shelf tooling that we take for granted in our industries and hobbies are also fueling this wave of change and how readily available they are

The tools and materials to build something like this are free and open to literally anyone on the planet. So it makes sense that given enough exposure to human ingenuity, with the right tools freely available, any reality is possible.


Could you supply a research article by this person from UCSF? This sounds very interesting!


I'll be that guy and ask: ten years later, are there new treatments based on that field that we didn't have at that time ?


Probably not. Most radically novel technological approaches to problems fail, but as the range of new tools and techniques available expand, their possible combinations increase exponentially. Most will still fail, but hopefully many of them won’t just as with startups.


On that specific field? No because there are many steps along the way that we haven't solved yet, but it's getting there, especially for heart tissue regeneration.


This was the setting for plot of the 2006 novel "Rainbows End" by Vernor Vinge.


> ...defensive technology always lags offensive technolog

Because the best defense is a good offense.


It will be interesting to see how this plays out once robots get more capable. If the people who planned the Iraq 2003 invasion had had robots available they may have just invaded more countries. Losing their own soldiers' lives is a strong incentive for politicians to limit military adventures. Once the cost to invade a country is only financial they may be tempted to be more aggressive.


once robots get more capable

There’s a common misconception that robots are not yet capable enough. This obscures the present, unexecuted, reality.

It is well within the budget of many nations to build grenade carrying swarms of drones capable of autonomously patrolling and attacking human targets. The fact that we have not seen this on a wide scale has no bearing on present capabilities, or that which is within reach. If you search YouTube you can already find examples of ISIS using remote piloted inexpensive drones to attack armored targets with devastating effectiveness.

This is here, now.

As a former light infantry grunt I have a visceral feel for the breathtaking transformation of the battle space we may soon witness. Within an AO it is very challenging to deny access to light infantry, even in the most foreboding terrain. Autonomous drones can and will effectively deny infantry access to large areas. This fundamentally changes ground warfare, even guerrilla.

Use logic. Can a drone recognize someone holding a weapon? Can a system be devised to demark areas of friendlies? Are all nations as cautious as the US when it comes to each weapons release?


Agreed. Modern commercially available drones can follow targets, even if they are temporarily obscured, detect faces, path around obstacles and perform preprogrammed tasks. The higher end ones typically carry enough compute power to do fairly advanced video recognition and execute logic. All that’s really missing for weaponization is an articulated firearm.


What do you need an articulated firearm for? Isn't some C4 good enough?

Hell, why do you need the drone to be autonomous? There are $100 drones that can be piloted remotely from kilometers away.


> Isn't some C4 good enough?

Not by itself. An area weapon is fine, which is why I said grenade. They are effective even with enemy in defilade. Rifles are cumbersome, give their position away and have recoil.

> why do you need the drone to be autonomous

Electronic Countermeasures


Also, you can leave scores of drones lying in wait, and alert a small number of pilots to fly the right ones when motion is detected.


This is why autonomy might be desirable:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=turkish+soldiers+drone+jammer&t=ff...


We are getting closer to the cyberpunk squad of guys with cf body armor, one guy with a drone jammer and a couple more with high suppressible firepower.


What is AO?


Area of operations



1500 rounds in a Phalanx, so need 1510 drones (catapults, radar, any aircraft on deck), at, say $5000 each. $7.5m to take a carrier out of the battle. I hope the Navy has wargamed this or demonstrated the phalanx software wont shit itself with that many targets.


How are the drones different from a simple bomb or missile then? You might as well just build a smaller SDB with more strikes. The vast majority of these drone weapons boil down to the concept of a guided bomb. Drones have a limited operational time measured in minutes and they can only attack once. The only difference to conventional bombs is that smaller explosives cause less collateral damage.


Check out this wargame, where floats of small inexpensive boats dominate a traditional navy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002


Assuming the drones/missiles cannot be easily jammed, the main counter to such an opponent would be to:

1) Know their capabilities 2) Stay out of range of the drone/missile swarm, until you have rendered them harmless (by destroying or blinding them).


There are unjammable communications. Essentially ad-hoc networks using laser beams, coordinated from a plane.

The reason it's unjammable is that you need to be in line-of-sight of the laser between 2 devices to jam it.

Blinding swarms of drones with communications and coordination between them is impossible. If necessary, they'll just get their sight from a satellite above.


So this would fall under the assumption that they could not be jammed, in which case the trick is to stay out of range, and destroy them before launch.

Missiles like this with ranges of 100s of kilometers will be very expensive, and can be intercepted by cheaper missiles/drones (or soon, lasers).


You can jam unjammable laser. If there was something like fog or rain it could block it's line of sight.


Something like a CIWS could work but it’s big and heavy and probably would need some time to calibrate. So you can’t have them with you everywhere, especially on a foot patrol, raid, recon, etc...


Well, once someone has 1510 drones capable of taking a carrier out of battle, they'll just toss a few dozen smaller turrets on the carrier that fire birdshot at full auto.


Check out the US Navy’s new laser cannon!


It's wild to imagine but 100% believable to think that the US Navy already has technology to defeat a large mass of cheap weaponized drones. And even more entertaining if it's lasers.


It would be a shame if those drones were covered with mirrors,wouldn't it?


That means more weight, more cost, for something that is ultimately disposable.


hopefully the navy isn't superstitious.


I mean I feel like the USA has been continuously bombing somebody since at least the first Iraq War, and I'd lay even odds on "since the 30s" it's just that I've only had long term memory since the Bush 1.

I think it's less concern about the domestic effects of war and more about the general inefficiency of murdering-the-shit-out-of-countries when it comes to foreign policy.


Its just business. The military-industrial complex is able to get billions in tax money in order to bomb people. So, thats what they do. The funding makes the complex powerful, and gives it the ability to lobby for more money, so they bomb more, and so on.


Many large scale organisations seem to operate similarly.


I get your point but I honestly think the people planning the second Iraq war really didn't care about casualties, or perhaps we're just badly deceiving themselves. "We will be greeted with flowers" they said. "the war will pay for itself" they said.

Specifically I think Cheney was willing to spill as much blood as needed. Some of his supporters in the media probably we're just in denial about the full costs of over throwing a country as large and fractious as Iraq.

What this implies for future wars I'm not sure.


They may not have cared about losing lives when they invaded but the American public quickly got sceptical about the war once they realized that their soldiers were getting killed. I think this definitely put some restraint on further military action.



> "We will be greeted with flowers"

That and American flags -- which, at the time, I wondered where they managed to get a bunch of flags?

Yeah, yeah, I know people don't like to hear that the Iraqi people were actually glad we were there in the early days of the war and greeted us as "liberators"...


Just curious if you saw that in the media.

If so maybe that answers the first part, where they got the flags, and also makes the second part worth little to nothing.


Nope, saw it firsthand on convoys running around the countryside and also while buying cigarettes and whiskey from the good people of Iraq.

Didn't see the media other than occasionally seeing them driving around in their landcrusers.


They cared enough to pressure news reports into not airing any footage of dead American soldiers though. Modern politics are always about optics. Caskets with American flags draped over them are bad optics, especially when there's lots of them all the time.


We have had the technology to have something the size of a remote controlled car that could murder every person in sight in a blink of an eye for some time.

Modern warfare is much more about deciding who to shoot than it is about effectively shooting them.


That's only because we are trying to avoid total war, hence the release of nuclear weapons. If nukes didn't exist, I think technology along these lines would be far more terrifying than it is now.


An interesting video talked about in the article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CO6M2HsoIA


I’m honestly surprised that these don’t exist already. I know the IDF was working on facial recognition for combat drones back in 2009, and I’m surprised this hasn’t been seen in the wild yet.


We definitely don't have good enough face recognition for use in combat. We have face recognition that mostly works if you've got a small pool of faces and a clear photo. Not really sure why you would want to put face recognition on military robots though.


Our ROE are fluid enough that detection will suffice, orders like "kill all the faces in this geofenced region" wouldn't seem out of the ordinary.


It will certainly be quite surrealist to see a bunch of people standing around, just covering their faces with their hands, waiting for the drone to pass.


I don't think we civilians would necessarily know about them if they did exist. Self-piloting drones exist, good facial recognition exists, just need to put them together.


> good facial recognition exists

Does it? I would guess if you're going to blow someone's head off with an autonomous drone you'd want to be pretty darn sure it's them. Though, on second thought, governements don't really care about civilian casualties anyway... Perhaps this is a pragmatic solution to lowering those counts....


>Does it? I would guess if you're going to blow someone's head off with an autonomous drone you'd want to be pretty darn sure it's them.

Why you'd say that? Major countries (not some rogue states or teams) bomb groups of civilians all the time, often missing their actual target, or killing 10-40 people in the process (even at weddings). It's not like anybody cares outside of the country of those killed.


And of course the "assymetric threat" (read: islamic terrorists) don't just not care about this, they're actually boasting about it online and in videos that they don't care about that. Even in cases where they accidentally hit their own.

So I'd add that it depends on ideology, and very few actors seem to be "above" collateral damage, and no-one cares. Or at least, not enough.


There are also intermediate steps before outright attacks: simply having drones which can track people in a crowd, guide ground forces, etc. has a lot of applications which wouldn’t be publicized (“officer smith recognized the resistance officer in the crowd and followed them home”). Plant some DL fakes on their phone and occupation could be very different.


I imagine pulling the human element out of the loop is valuable to the military.


Of course these things exist already. If it's possible, someone in the defense industry will build it. They try building things that aren't currently possible, let alone something like this that a skilled hobbyist could put together.

A friend of mine quit an EE lab in grad school because they were working for the government on drones that did exactly this, but for missiles, in 1996.


Maybe you've seen it failing in the wild

https://theintercept.com/2018/08/11/israel-palestine-drone-s...


Whats to stop Facebook from taking a contract like this? Scary.


what about maduro recent speech ?


fun but what about having net technology ?


There is no doubt that as the technology advances it will spil over to the civilian umm... "market". A truly terrifying prospect.


Don't forget about all those simple https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_countermeasure devices.

The Russians had quite some success in Syria using https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krasukha_(electronic_warfare_s... . (https://thedefensepost.com/2018/05/01/russia-syria-electroni...)

All those sensitive electronic robots are useless in a real war. Makes me wonder who really needs them?


Jamming communications doesn't make robots useless. It just means that they can't be controlled remotely, can't use GPS to navigate and can't provide real-time surveillance.

That can be worked around by pre-programming a fixed route or an objective to be fulfilled autonomously, by using celestial navigation or geographical landmarks, and by having surveillance drones return to base to deliver recordings using a physical connection.


Honestly a swarm of drones with laser based communication sounds just like the thing that may make widescale jamming useless in the future. Also, makes jamming pretty risky since something will head your way... and explode.


Are there drones that use celestial navigation?

What if it's cloudy?


I don't know about drones, but it is in use for missiles https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_guidance#Astro-inertia...

Cloudiness would be a problem, but in that case you could still fall back to a combination of other systems.


can't read the article as it's behind a paywall, but I've recently become very paranoid. Just a few minutes ago I was thinking about small autonomous drones that are just big enough to infiltrate a building and insert themselves into the usb port of otherwise secure machines then escape with sensitive information.

I think I'll start printing some usb port covers as a countermeasure.


There was a post recently about a computer that could fit inside of a usb port, little arm chip. It was meant as an open yubikey substitute, but you could easily hide one of those inside of a mass-produced cell phone charger, and suddenly you have something doing arbitrary computation. It didn't have a wireless chip, but on the other hand it was $30, if you made it using off-the-shelf consumer parts. I'm sure an industrial complex would be able to shave the size down and potentially add a wireless chip. Scary stuff.


USB Wifi adapters have been tiny for years, and they have a wireless chip (obviously) and certainly some computation.


Or......there's the $5 wrench

https://xkcd.com/538/


The difference is, if you hit someone with a wrench until they give you the password to some data, they're going not going to continue giving you data. Whereas, if you covertly get access to someone's computer, they're going to keep using it and keep feeding you data.


Violent action is already mediated by compute devices: police and soldiers are dispatched by computer command to capture or kill people they don't know and have never seen before. Rarely do human actors have any discretion in the field, so the fact that a human constitutes "the tip of the spear" wouldn't seem to matter much.


Afghanistan combat veteran here. You've seen WAY too many movies.

Discretion is everything. Any time we'd hit a compound, we would pore over the intelligence, assess whether this was a likely badguy, whether they were a key player or just a low level radical, etc.

Equally important, are the people around said badguy likely also bad or innocent bystanders? If they're probably bad we want to capture them all together. If they're probably innocent we want to wait until the dude wanders off to minimize the risk to civilian life and property, even if that means greater risk to us.

Once you actually get to the target location, it starts all over again, only with less time and information. Is that a shovel or an RPG? I can't quite tell from here. Looks like an RPG -- what if I'm wrong? There's a house behind him, what's the risk if I wait 30 seconds...?

It's a real profession that takes real expertise by people with real emotions.


Unfortunately, it seems the ROE of American occupation forces in Afghanistan is more civilian-friendly than the ROE of American cops fighting the drug/race war.


> Unfortunately, it seems the ROE of American occupation forces in Afghanistan is more civilian-friendly than the ROE of American cops

You had me until race war but yes. This is true in my exp.


Related question – a relatively high percentage (~20%) of police officers are ex-military. It does seem that military ROE is more stringent than what we've seen from recent evidence of problems in police/citizen interactions. Do you think there is a cultural problem within police departments that engenders a weakening of discipline wrt use of force? Or is it just that the problems that occur domestically in the US get more coverage, and the rate of misapplied state violence is similar?


Ex-military is not ex-combat veteran. Having been adequately trained for and employed in the use of deadly force (vs. refueling trucks or counting bullets) are two very different things. 1 in 10 soldiers are actually in a combat job.

It all comes down to training and experience. Police training budgets are tight, officers roll in single squad cars (little safety), sometimes physical fitness standards aren't upheld (fat cops can't scrap with someone they have to use a device to subdue them), and mental health issues abound (the job can be quite stressful and boring at the same time).

I've watched a lot of body cam footage of (legitimate) police shootings. I wonder how many of these one on one situations would have turned violent if the perp knew there were two officers bearing down on him instead of one?


I remember hearing an NPR piece about how combat veterans were _less_ likely to shoot than others. Wish I had a link...


[flagged]


The drug war has always been a cultural and class war, and of course it cuts along racial lines, as well as political ones. Not nonsense at all.

https://youtu.be/sXPOw2unxy0?t=238


I suppose I should have limited my claim to police - the anecdotes abound there. There is SWATing, which can be deadly, there are stories of cops getting fired for NOT killing the suicidal person waiving a knife, etc. But with the military I was thinking more of pilots, drone and otherwise, who's whole job is to kill stuff from afar. How can they show discretion?

But yeah, maybe a marine on the ground has more discretion than I realize. The other cases, though, I think are valid.


With robots you can err on the side of the shovel as worst that can happen is that the RPG will destroy the robot. With humans it is the "split second decision" which effectively pretty much takes any discretion away.


[dead]

unit91 10 months ago [flagged]

No. Have you heard of 9/11?


It's sort of an HN tradition that anyone with actual expertise related to, basically, a touchy subject who tries to give some push back on inaccurate information will get some kind of inappropriate remark that makes them out to be an apologist for bad behavior, one of the bad guys, or similar.

Thank you for serving your country. Thank you for lending your voice to this discussion.

Even though you can't downvote such comments (when they are a direct reply to you), you can flag them (if you have enough karma, like 50 pts iirc). That's probably the best thing to do as the HN guidelines indicate we shouldn't reply to bad comments, it just deepens the problem.


[flagged]


Jacques, this isn't appropriate behavior on HN.

I probably defend you more than anyone else on Hacker News because it sticks in my craw to see you targeted for the crime of being high on the leaderboard. But your position on the leaderboard in no way makes these comments pass muster for the HN guidelines.

It's an ugly personal attack.

Maybe take your political opinions to your well trafficked blog and vent there. But it isn't acceptable here. The guidelines do not say "Unless you are on the leaderboard, and then feel free to do whatever you want."


[flagged]


I don't think it is an attack on you. You seem to have some personal issue with me and you have accused me of sticking the knife in at any opportunity. This is not true. I also defend you.

For the record, I have a lot of respect you. I don't care if you believe that or not. From what I gather, someone has your ear and is filling it with lies about me. I've given you a lot of latitude in part because of my high personal regard for you, but I'm not attacking you here and I'm not obligated to tippy toe around you or something and defer to your opinion or something because of whatever your personal issue with me is.

I will make a note that you aren't interested in me defending you and try to restrain myself in the future when I see people behaving inappropriately towards you. I'm not the moderator here. It's not my job to moderate the space. But I am a member and folks do make "meta" comments at times.

I'm done here. I don't intend to reply further. This is not productive.


[flagged]


My father and ex husband were both career military. I addressed a person who also served in the American military.

You don't own this entire thread because you spoke in it. I'm quite open about my background. It should hardly come as a shock to you that I don't agree with the idea of personally vilifying military members because you personally disagree with the politics of their country.

Anyway, I'm done, regardless of whatever else you want to say here.


[flagged]


Given your other remarks here, this is a completely disingenuous justification for personally attacking the person.

If I believed that you, in all seriousness, wondered if they ever thought deeply about such things, I wouldn't have said anything. The only thing "have you heard of 9/11" says to me is that the individual feels attacked by you. Given all the words you have written here, I think it is reasonable for them to interpret your question as an attack and not some good faith attempt to start some deeply philosophical discussion.

And it's an ugly thing to do, regardless of the justification you want to come up with after the fact while clearly signaling your belief that being a soldier makes you de facto evil. I don't agree with that position and I don't think it is appropriate for anyone to go around picking fights with soldiers on HN because they hold such beliefs.


> ...essentially you will be conditioned to follow orders and you then need to hope that those orders will result in a net positive where you will end up holding the bag if they don't.

You are required to follow legal orders. Illegal orders, not so much because "you will end up holding the bag" as "I was just following orders" isn't a valid defense.

As for net positive/negative that really up to the politicians since (in the US at least) the military is commanded by the civilian government. One hopes one is engaging in a net positive but, as they say, hindsight is 20/20.


That's the theory. In practice, people really do just follow orders, the handful that stands up gets mowed down quite easily. Look at the large number of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Vietnam and a dozen other places) and what came of the numerous war crimes committed. You don't need 20/20 to know that when you enlist the chances that you are going to be part of something bad are pretty high.

Have a read:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_war_crimes


You realize that the Netherland have also deployed troops to Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission there right? [1][2]

I'm curious if you would say the same hostile things to a Dutch soldier who was only serving his or her own country as they were asked to do.

[1] https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2018/06/15/netherlands...

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-10829837


> I'm curious if you would say the same things to a Dutch military soldier who was only serving his or her own country as they were asked to do.

Count on it.

But being sucked into Iraq was the bigger error.


And hopefully they will take a minute to explain to you that the reason you are free to pursue your software business is because people like them have committed to the business of keeping you and your country safe.


NL has been pretty safe for the last 70 years, anybody you'd like to thank you better get on with it.

The major reason NL has been so safe is because the EEG and later the EU came into being, not because of any action by enlisted military. The NATO 'an attack on one is an attack on all' combined with the nukes of France and the UK are the bigger part of the balance there, with some help from the US, where there arguably is room to point out that this was mostly to serve US interests rather than the interests of Europe, any kind of fuck-up there would have likely turned the EU into a smoldering pile of ashes.

NL has very little to be proud of when it comes to the deployment of the military, both historically and in the present.


Thank you for your service.


>Rarely do human actors have any discretion in the field

Spoken like someone who's never been anywhere near the military. In case I wasn't clear enough: this is patently false, as any combat veteran can attest.

ROE often explicitly allow for discretion in target engagement.


How does a drone pilot, or a pilot in general, show discretion?


Most orders to fire will be discretionary, in both if, when and with what to engage it’s fairly rare for an order to engage to be explicit and in those cases they can still request confirmation including from higher up in the chain of command (depending on who is actually commanding the mission) only if it’s a direct order would they have to follow it at that point unless it’s an illegal order.

Pilots drone or not have the best situational awareness and they often scrub missions and even abort after launch if the situation changes to what they would consider unacceptable.

Essentially any type of “fire at will” order is discretionary.

Pilots didn’t sign up to blow up schools and hospitals and they can and are directly liable for any collateral damage and civilian casualties they can and do question the intelligence and information which lead to authorizing the strike they’ll asses the strike package and they will assess the situation and the target to the best of their abilities before engaging.

Shit does happen, mistakes are made but they are by far not the norm.


> Pilots [...] are directly liable for any collateral damage and civilian casualties

Serious question, are you aware of any cases of US pilots ever being punished for collateral damage or hitting the wrong target?


Do you know of any cases where pilots intentionally hit the wrong targets?

The laws both national and international that govern military operations don’t put civilian lives a head of military operations in all cases.

I’m not American but from my experience we had to do a lot of work for risk reduction when planning missions, essentially we perform and throughly document the process in which we reduce the risk of collateral damage that came in form of selecting a strike package to minimize the damage, choosing a time that would ensure minimal non-combatants in the AO and also providing the parameters of engagement to the pilots based on the value of the target.

I can say that out of the approved strikes close to 50% of them were aborted last minute and even after munition launch due to the pilots giving us the no-clear in the last moment and then essentially missing the window of opportunity.


> Do you know of any cases where pilots intentionally hit the wrong targets?

I'm not involved with the military in any way, shape or form. My guess would be that if such a thing happened, it would be buried (see Chelsea Manning, Abu Ghraib etc).

You did say though that pilots are directly liable for any collateral damage, so I was curious as to whether that had any real meaning - would a pilot actually face charges (military or criminal) if they, for example, negligently fired upon the wrong building, or failed to abort launching against a pre-approved target that it later turned out was obviously a school, hospital, wedding party, etc?


Pilots for the most part don’t take on missions that are in clear violation of the military code of conduct and international law, mistakes happen but they are mistakes.

If a pilot tracks a school bus that loaded a bunch of kids and heading into town and calls it a military target and blows it up they will be charged.

Investigations also happen quite often, quite often they don’t result in anything because everyone did what they were supposed to do to reduce the risk and make the best judgment call based on the information they had.

You can’t charge people for making a mistake as shitty as you might think it is war gets people killed by definition and for the most part professional soldiers do what they can to make sure that the people who die are combatants.


Infantryman here, so I can't quite speak to how pilots make their decisions (and I think the sibling comment answers this pretty well).

However, I can attest that pilots routinely provide us infantrymen with information that we weigh very heavily in our decision to engage. Moreover, it is often the case that air-strikes fall under the "close air support" (CAS) category, which in turn means the aircraft shoots where and when the ground troops request it.

In other words: discretion is what separates the professional soldier from the disorganized militia.


> Rarely do human actors have any discretion in the field

That seems like a very strong claim.


Actually, if anything, that means everything that happens next matters now more than ever.

Put another way, if we think of 1960's era ICBM technology as entry level autonomous warfare, it's the least effective example of this kind of technology. That alone should give a bit of pause.

That is how potent this technology is, and it should be regarded with no lighter wariness.

It is more precise, more durable, more accurate, and worst of all, requires fewer people per intervention, indicating that it can be operated with a hair trigger, leaving the capacity to react with force more prone to emotional decisions.

If it seems that ordinary guns make it easier for ordinary civilian citizens to lash out at tens of victims, this technology will expand that ability even further. But, put in the hands of unrestrained organizations and institutions, operating with the capacity and constraints of nation-state authority, no less than World War III is on the table.


What about defensive measures? Can these things be taken out with electromagnetic interference or a net? Maybe some sort of autonomous laser turret to melt the propellers of the drones?


US military has a lot of anti drone weapons including lasers. If you’re worried about facial recognition then masks or makeup are what you’re looking for.


> Rarely do human actors have any discretion in the field

It's precisely because people do have discretion that we have the concept of the strategic corporal [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Block_War


I wonder how NRA prepares to defend guns as anti-dictatorship constitutional tool against government that has thumb size drones that can inject lethal dose of botox in your left butt cheek on demand.


I suspect the same way they always do. The people who send thumb sized drones to kill have to go home and live somewhere.

What's a bullet but a really fast, low tech thumb sized drone that can kill?


> The people who send thumb sized drones to kill have to go home and live somewhere.

All 12 of them? They may live on their private islands.

Or even in the Whitehouse. Do you think approaching Whitehouse with a gun will be easier in the world of military thumb sized drones than it is today?


Those 12 people don't actually send the drone, they just tell someone (to tell someone, etc) to send the drone. Until we have full Skynet abilities, they will need a bunch of people on the ground to do the work.


Tech companies require less and less people to operate. Military will become tech company once small drones make infantry obsolete.


Right, but even tech companies have a lot of people. Google has 85000 employees, plus many, many more that produce supplies they depend on (like most of the hardware). It's not 12 people on private islands.


Probably the same way the Vietnamese defeated a nuclear power. Or Cuba. Or the English Navy against the Invincible Armada. Or any other number of times an underpowered force beat a superior one.


> Probably the same way the Vietnamese defeated a nuclear power.

So we got United States of Vietnam now?

> Or the English Navy against the Invincible Armada.

Ah so the plan is to camp with guns around military bases an shoot at whatever comes out? I predict great success.

> Or any other number of times an underpowered force beat a superior one.

So in a really unaticipated way and with unimaginable dose of luck.


> So we got United States of Vietnam now?

No. After 20 years of fighting, we got the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. (Also FWIW the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.)

> Ah so the plan is to camp with guns around military bases an shoot at whatever comes out?

The English didn't blockade the Spanish Armada at their docks. They attacked the clustered enemy under favorable conditions on the English coast.

> So in a really unaticipated way and with unimaginable dose of luck.

Perhaps. Hard to say how it might happen. But if I had to guess, it'd probably involve weapons of some sort.


No, in a pretty common pattern, and with the difference that fighting for your freedom and having popular support around the AO vs being some scum of the earth dictator government makes.


I'm not sure why gun nuts think they will be seen as the good guys if the regime will control army, law and media and have some degree of popular support.

This doesn't have to be botox. It might be just horse tranquiliser followed by detention and whatever passes as due process in the future.


Its simple really, we need a blockchain-style solution to ensure that the populace as a whole directly controls the largest bot army, otherwise the future is just one dictatorship unto oblivion


Could you please elaborate on how this could ever be considered simple?


Oh, keeping military power in the hands of the citizenry won't be simple to implement,

but it's quite simple that if we don't implement something in that realm, then we're in the twilight of free civilization.




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