Remote Control - The Future of Warfare??

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#21
There seems to be some weird misunderstanding of the law of armed conflict in the anti drone lobby that assumes that if you fight a war it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat.

Most modern industrial military equipment is based on NOT risking the lives of your men, by ensuring that you can find, fix and kill him without getting into knife fighting range.

A drone is basically a flying sniper rifle, and is no more or less effective than the skill of the operator.

If they were concerned about the morality of fully autonomous AI drones that made their own judgements, I could understand it. At the moment, the issue is fogged by wilful ignorance of the system capabilities and the peculiar idea that war is supposed to be fair, or is made more 'fair' by giving the enemy more opportunity to kill our troops.
Hmm. I agree that the anti-drone lobby conflate the Hollywood idea of "AI drones" with the reality, which they are well aware of, which is just a very long-range, human controlled weapon.

It is, however, morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat. It is not tactically, strategically, or militarily desirable. It is not legally desirable (or, to be accurate, legally necessary). But it is morally desirable.

It is morally desirable because the very fact of a combatant having to risk something by engaging in combat is a natural restriction or balance to the decision to engage in it, and the ease with which people make that decision. It's the quintessential "absolute power corrupts absolutely" problem that is also loved of Hollywood movies, that if you have the power to act with effective impunity and no real consequence, you're probably going to misuse that power pretty quickly. All of our understanding of war, and our systems of governing and controlling conflict, rely on the assumption that both sides have to risk something. Removing that is a very, very dangerous thing. This is the essence of the argument against remote warfare or AI combatants, and it's a good point, that needs serious consideration before we do away with it. Warfare without risk is pretty much the definition of moral hazard. So, yes, it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat. Sucks if you happen to be those men, but that's why the big decisions don't get made by soldiers.

So the "morally desirable" argument is valid. I see this like the difference between saying "battery farming is bad" and being a full-time PETA activist. There are reasonable points to be made in this debate, but sadly the anti-movement is dominated by a fair few fanatics who push the extremes, and are the ones who are heard. Like PETA, they do it because it works, and because they aren't challenged effectively when they propagate these lies. The antidote to that is for the informed people to engage, and challenge the lies. Which, as @alfred_the_great points out, is exactly what we prevent the informed people from doing.
 
#22
#23
There seems to be some weird misunderstanding of the law of armed conflict in the anti drone lobby that assumes that if you fight a war it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat.

Most modern industrial military equipment is based on NOT risking the lives of your men, by ensuring that you can find, fix and kill him without getting into knife fighting range.

A drone is basically a flying sniper rifle, and is no more or less effective than the skill of the operator.

If they were concerned about the morality of fully autonomous AI drones that made their own judgements, I could understand it. At the moment, the issue is fogged by wilful ignorance of the system capabilities and the peculiar idea that war is supposed to be fair, or is made more 'fair' by giving the enemy more opportunity to kill our troops.
Is it not the fact that the depersonalisation of killing, increasing the range makes it easier for human beings to do it with less cognitive disonance.

This is a farily well researched principle in the psychology of killing.

Killing other people isn't pleasant and certainly not something the majority of humans are programed to do.

Drones give politicians a moral distance when deciding to go to war. They also mean the public get less of a conection to the horrors of war.

Bottom line, from an ethical point of view is, making killing people simpler, easier and less morally challenging is wrong at the level of civilisation/sophistication we like to think we've arrived at. Also modern war fucks many more non combatant civies than enemy soldiers

the idea that there are RAF c+nts swanning around in grow bags on camp and playing video games with real world death and destruction makes me feel sick to the stomach. I can only imagine they are screened at the start of the training process to identify maleable morales, unquestioning minds and lack of empathy.
 
#27
The
Hmm. I agree that the anti-drone lobby conflate the Hollywood idea of "AI drones" with the reality, which they are well aware of, which is just a very long-range, human controlled weapon.

It is, however, morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat. It is not tactically, strategically, or militarily desirable. It is not legally desirable (or, to be accurate, legally necessary). But it is morally desirable.

It is morally desirable because the very fact of a combatant having to risk something by engaging in combat is a natural restriction or balance to the decision to engage in it, and the ease with which people make that decision. It's the quintessential "absolute power corrupts absolutely" problem that is also loved of Hollywood movies, that if you have the power to act with effective impunity and no real consequence, you're probably going to misuse that power pretty quickly. All of our understanding of war, and our systems of governing and controlling conflict, rely on the assumption that both sides have to risk something. Removing that is a very, very dangerous thing. This is the essence of the argument against remote warfare or AI combatants, and it's a good point, that needs serious consideration before we do away with it. Warfare without risk is pretty much the definition of moral hazard. So, yes, it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat. Sucks if you happen to be those men, but that's why the big decisions don't get made by soldiers.

So the "morally desirable" argument is valid. I see this like the difference between saying "battery farming is bad" and being a full-time PETA activist. There are reasonable points to be made in this debate, but sadly the anti-movement is dominated by a fair few fanatics who push the extremes, and are the ones who are heard. Like PETA, they do it because it works, and because they aren't challenged effectively when they propagate these lies. The antidote to that is for the informed people to engage, and challenge the lies. Which, as @alfred_the_great points out, is exactly what we prevent the informed people from doing.
The exact same arguments were probably made when longbows suppressed cavalry, field artillery entered the battlefield, and strategic bombers moved the threat of war into the enemy homeland and off the battlefield entirely.

Basically, it seems that there is a feeling that war is a ritual feud between equals. Any technological development that gives one side an advantage in range and depersonalisation is seen as morally undesirable.-up until the point that both sides develop the technology. Then it merely becomes another batlefield capability, offering no advantage to either side.

The feeling seems to be that war is so horrible that you must physically participate so that you KNOW it is horrible, so you don't get too fond of it.

In reality, war is organised slaughter, and the trick is to slaughter as many of the opposition as possible while reducing the risk of your own losses. Politically, each dead soldier is not just one less voter, but any government that sent a human to die when they could have sent an expendable munition has to explain to the electorate why it made that decision. The question is this :
"Politically, it was necessary for that enemy to be destroyed. We decided that the best TACTICAL way to do that was with human life, rather than with a guided missile".
Justifying that is harder than justifying expenditure on ordnance that is built to be expended.

The ultimate end point is to remove ALL risk to your forces, and leave the casualties to the enemy.

There are generally accepted laws of conflict, but these are normally followed by the strong, who can afford self imposed handicaps on their war fighting.
The weak (and deliberately amoral,such as the Russians) simply ignore them.

Modern war is not a chivalrous contest of equals. In most cases, it isn't "war" in the classic sense at all, between nation states.
It is more like urban pest control.
 
#28
#29
I suspect it is, they're normal people and the psychological effects have been reported on. He probably expected more than the standard leftie "baby killers" comments from you.

Drone Wars: Pilots Reveal Debilitating Stress Beyond Virtual Battlefield

There's shit loads more out there is you care to look.
Well that gives me some hope.

Who knew long shifts of remotely killing people would cause stress

Having read the article it backs up the theory. Technology has brought back the proximity/intimacy of killing some one and the effects are traumatic
 
Last edited:
#30
Is it not the fact that the depersonalisation of killing, increasing the range makes it easier for human beings to do it with less cognitive disonance.

This is a farily well researched principle in the psychology of killing.

Killing other people isn't pleasant and certainly not something the majority of humans are programed to do.

Drones give politicians a moral distance when deciding to go to war. They also mean the public get less of a conection to the horrors of war.

Bottom line, from an ethical point of view is, making killing people simpler, easier and less morally challenging is wrong at the level of civilisation/sophistication we like to think we've arrived at. Also modern war fucks many more non combatant civies than enemy soldiers

the idea that there are RAF c+nts swanning around in grow bags on camp and playing video games with real world death and destruction makes me feel sick to the stomach. I can only imagine they are screened at the start of the training process to identify maleable morales, unquestioning minds and lack of empathy.
You couldn't be any further from the truth, the decision to kill is not taken lightly and the final decision is taken with very careful consideration. As for the people pulling the trigger and how they feel about it that's down to individual personalities but these people are very highly trained individuals.
 
#31
You couldn't be any further from the truth, the decision to kill is not taken lightly and the final decision is taken with very careful consideration. As for the people pulling the trigger and how they feel about it that's down to individual personalities but these people are very highly trained individuals.
I refer you to my previous post
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#32
There seems to be some weird misunderstanding of the law of armed conflict in the anti drone lobby that assumes that if you fight a war it is morally desirable to risk the lives of your men in combat.

Most modern industrial military equipment is based on NOT risking the lives of your men, by ensuring that you can find, fix and kill him without getting into knife fighting range.

A drone is basically a flying sniper rifle, and is no more or less effective than the skill of the operator.

If they were concerned about the morality of fully autonomous AI drones that made their own judgements, I could understand it. At the moment, the issue is fogged by wilful ignorance of the system capabilities and the peculiar idea that war is supposed to be fair, or is made more 'fair' by giving the enemy more opportunity to kill our troops.
I'm reminded of a Star Trek Original Series episode, A Taste Of Armageddon.

Kirk et al land on a civilised, technologically quite advanced planet. A klaxon goes off and a million people, including them, get sent to the incinerator (or something).

The planet is at war with another planet in the system, it's gone on forever and the two sides have agreed that, rather than actually glass cities in the target planet, the opponents' computers wargame the war and mutually agree when when a city gets "nuked", rather than destroy the city, it's inhabitants walk away to be offed efficiently.

Kirk and crew explain to them the futility of this and that it's because of it that neither side has ever sought a mutually satisfactory peace.
 
#33
I'm reminded of a Star Trek Original Series episode, A Taste Of Armageddon.

Kirk et al land on a civilised, technologically quite advanced planet. A klaxon goes off and a million people, including them, get sent to the incinerator (or something).

The planet is at war with another planet in the system, it's gone on forever and the two sides have agreed that, rather than actually glass cities in the target planet, the opponents' computers wargame the war and mutually agree when when a city gets "nuked", rather than destroy the city, it's inhabitants walk away to be offed efficiently.

Kirk and crew explain to them the futility of this and that it's because of it that neither side has ever sought a mutually satisfactory peace.
A thinly satirised description of Mutually Assured Destruction, taken to a logical extreme, and without damaging the property values.

It does, however, require two equally technologically advanced enemies, with identical offensive capabilities. If one side had real missiles, and the other was still firing simulations, guess which side wins?

The perverse thinking is that we think that the use of Guided weapons is superior to unguided, as they are more specific, and reduce collateral damage to the enemy civil population, but we think it acceptable to risk the life of a pilot, and not reduce the collateral risk to him.
 

No.4 Mk.1

On ROPS
On ROPs
#34
This gives an 'insider' view of the US drone program, although i've not had chance to see it myself yet.


'National Bird' shines light on secretive drone wars
The convoy had stopped for prayers in a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan when the Hellfire missiles came out of a clear blue sky, incinerating vehicles and liquidating 23 unarmed civilians.

The February 2010 attack, involving US drone operators who were later described as "inaccurate and unprofessional" in a military investigation, fueled the growing outcry over America's rapidly expanding drone wars.​

The personnel who mistook the travelers for insurgents had been analyzing Predator drone footage from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, directing a remote-control massacre thousands of miles from the victims.

They reported that they could see only military-age men in the three vehicles but several of the dead and wounded turned out to be women in brightly-colored civilian clothing and their children.

The incident, and what it reveals about America's secretive drone program, is the subject of "National Bird," a disturbing documentary released in US theaters on November 11.

Read more: 'National Bird' shines light on secretive drone wars
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads