Killer Robots

#1
Posted on Monday's BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8182003.stm

I've searched the site but can't find anything. Apologies if elsewhere. A few issues as I see it:

1. UAVs 'change the character of warfare because the operator is detached from end-effect'. By extension, would the author like to remove high-level bombing, artillery and firearms and return to swords?

2. Are we really going down the autonomous route? Sounds all a bit SkyNet to me (see Mash's take below:)

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/...to-worry-about,-say-army-chiefs-200908051957/

3. Do we really need them? If we need expendable, unthinking automatons to effect Defence Policy, then we already have the Rockapes.

And begin....
 
#2
The article might also be subtitled "Academic begs for funding using dramatic language".

We already have autonomous killer robots, although we usually call them cruise missiles. There will no doubt be a move towards greater autonomy in UAS but that will be carefully balanced against the circumstances. Everyone is happy with a cruise missile flying 1000 km to hit something; it's not much of a stretch to get one to dump a GPS guided bomb instead and come home. However, neither will be flying in the UK in normal airspace very soon.
 
#3
miles_gloriosus said:
Posted on Monday's BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8182003.stm

I've searched the site but can't find anything. Apologies if elsewhere. A few issues as I see it:

1. UAVs 'change the character of warfare because the operator is detached from end-effect'. By extension, would the author like to remove high-level bombing, artillery and firearms and return to swords?
...
Over at AmConMag Bill Lind has a pop at UAVs in Droning On
...
Here we begin to see why Osama should have on his cave wall a picture of the Predator with the line under it, “Our best weapon.” Maybe he does. Perhaps no other weapon so well represents the conflict between al-Qaeda’s David and the American Goliath. The Predator strikes in the night with no warning. Its missiles can instantly pulverize an entire mud-brick compound. There is no defense against it other than hiding. If by a miracle our opponents shoot one down, they do us no injury. The drone operator sits in air-conditioned comfort in Tampa or some similar garden spot. With the Predator and with airstrikes generally, Americans fight from a safe distance. Like the Trojan hero Paris, who was an archer, we appear to be cowards.

Seen from John Boyd’s physical/ mental/moral vantage point, the Predator is a stunning success physically. It may terrify our enemies mentally. But on the moral level, it is a boomerang. Those on the receiving end say, “I’m going to get back at the murdering cowards no matter what it costs.” Their families, friends, fellow tribesmen, and co-religionists around the world have the same reaction. The Predator calls forth its low-tech, Fourth Generation counterpart and nemesis, the suicide bomber.

Here we see the broader failing in the American military, an error that had its origin in the idea that war is a firepower-based attrition contest, but has since taken on a life of its own. That is the assumption, usually unstated but now so widespread that it underlies everything the Pentagon does, that wars’ outcomes are determined by technology. The fact that complex technology is a great justifier of higher budgets may not be irrelevant to this notion’s popularity.

Van Creveld’s book Technology and War, a historical survey, concludes that very few wars have been decided by technology. Boyd sums up the reason: “Weapons don’t fight wars, people do, and they use their minds.”

One consequence of this fact is that most high-tech weapons systems have simple, low-tech counters. A classic example comes from the “McNamara Line” in the Vietnam War, a collection of high-tech sensors in the jungles that was supposed to pick up any Viet Cong movements. One sophisticated sensor was designed to detect human odors. The VC countered it by hanging buckets of urine in trees.

The Taliban’s most successful counter to the Predator is of similar simplicity. They make sure that when they gather and thus provide a good target, they have plenty of women and children around. In effect, they say, “Go ahead, make my day.”

Because complex weapons are expensive, they are usually in service for a long time, sometimes decades. Soon after their introduction, most if not all of their operating characteristics are known, especially in the age of the Internet. Our opponents can invent and deploy generations of simple countermeasures during the lifetime of one high-tech system. They are “outcycling us,” in Boydian terms: they can go through many cycles of observing, orienting, deciding, and acting against our systems while the systems go through only a single cycle. Boyd argued that there are few more certain prescriptions for defeat.

In contrast, simple systems, such as those our Fourth Generation opponents rely on, can go through many Boyd cycles in a comparatively short time. We see this face on display in Iraq and Afghanistan with the deadly weapon we face, the Improvised Explosive Device. Our opponents continually and rapidly invent and deploy new generations of IED, with new warhead designs, triggering mechanisms, and camouflage techniques. The U.S. has a multibillion-dollar top-priority program to counter them, most of it focused on high-tech solutions. (Again, think budget justification.) It has had small successes, but if you ask many of our troops what their mission is, they reply, “Driving around and waiting to get blown up.”
...
Robots “Driving around and waiting to get blown up.” has its merits. But its probably got more to do with sustaining procurement budgets when faced with long low intensity wars than winning them.
 
#4
There is a clear correlation between autonomous offensive robots such as the UAV concept presented and landmines; both may be considered indescriminate to a degree that may be intolerable.
 
#5
deleted
 
#6
miles_gloriosus said:
Posted on Monday's BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8182003.stm

I've searched the site but can't find anything. Apologies if elsewhere. A few issues as I see it:

1. UAVs 'change the character of warfare because the operator is detached from end-effect'. By extension, would the author like to remove high-level bombing, artillery and firearms and return to swords?

2. Are we really going down the autonomous route? Sounds all a bit SkyNet to me (see Mash's take below:)

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/...to-worry-about,-say-army-chiefs-200908051957/

3. Do we really need them? If we need expendable, unthinking automatons to effect Defence Policy, then we already have the Rockapes.

And begin....
This is the first post I've read of your's & to come off with an insensative comment like that,you're a c*nt! The Rocks have lost guys over there too.
 
#7
Spike,

Clearly I've struck a nerve. I don't doubt the sacrifice all three services have made over time. My apologies if this is too close to home.

That said, I wouldn't want to get into a 'who can out-grieve who' competition that ends with all inter-capbadge/inter-service banter morally verboten. I certainly recall less than savoury sobriquets for RGJ and Paras in NI.

It was meant in jest and, looking over the site, there seems to be a rich vein of it (even in Current Affairs - cf RAF Regt to Expand thread). I hope it continues.

Feel free to think I'm a 'c*nt', by the way. My wife does so you're in good company.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads