"...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 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.
Because the best defense is a good offense.
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?
Hell, why do you need the drone to be autonomous? There are $100 drones that can be piloted remotely from kilometers away.
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
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).
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.
Missiles like this with ranges of 100s of kilometers will be very expensive, and can be intercepted by cheaper missiles/drones (or soon, lasers).
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.
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.
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"...
If so maybe that answers the first part, where they got the flags, and also makes the second part worth little to nothing.
Didn't see the media other than occasionally seeing them driving around in their landcrusers.
Modern warfare is much more about deciding who to shoot than it is about effectively shooting them.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
What if it's cloudy?
Cloudiness would be a problem, but in that case you could still fall back to a combination of other systems.
I think I'll start printing some usb port covers as a countermeasure.
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.
You had me until race war but yes. This is true in my exp.
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?
But yeah, maybe a marine on the ground has more discretion than I realize. The other cases, though, I think are valid.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have a read:
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.
Count on it.
But being sucked into Iraq was the bigger error.
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.
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.
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.
Serious question, are you aware of any cases of US pilots ever being punished for collateral damage or hitting the wrong target?
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.
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?
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.
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.
That seems like a very strong claim.
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.
It's precisely because people do have discretion that we have the concept of the strategic corporal .
What's a bullet but a really fast, low tech thumb sized drone that can kill?
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?
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.
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.
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.
but it's quite simple that if we don't implement something in that realm, then we're in the twilight of free civilization.