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The Military Biotech Robotics Technology

How the Pentagon's Robots Would Automate War 117

rossgneumann writes: Pentagon officials are worried that the U.S. military is losing its edge compared to competitors like China, and are willing to explore almost anything to stay on top—including creating robots capable of becoming fighting machines. A 72-page document throws detailed light on the far-reaching implications of the Pentagon's plan to monopolize imminent "transformational advances" in biotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence, information technology, nanotechnology, and energy.
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How the Pentagon's Robots Would Automate War

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  • But Skynet-1 vs Skynet-2, and humans are just the collateral damage.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This proposal is rubbish, where does it say anything about "think of the children"

    • Indeed. Fear and paranoia are often the main ingredients to colossal disasters.

      USA's post-9/11 fears drove us to invade Iraq for no decent reason whatsoever, and create a power-vacuum that haunts us and the Middle East to this day. Saddam may have been a jerk, but he served to stabilize other jerks (Iran gov't, ISIS, etc.). We upset the Balance of Jerks (we lost Jerk Jenga).

      "Let's throw Terminators at the problem. What can possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong..."

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Yes a community know their local sounds. The 4x4, bikes, luxury cars. They all have distinctive sounds and the local population are aware of any changes.
      When an army of occupation or their local death squads move into an area that news travels fast.
      Special forces try to blend in. Local death squads use what they are given. New machines with loud new distinctive sounds will stand out in open areas.
      Counterinsurgency is now going to be robotic? An endless war of robot patrols and local robot checkpoint
  • Is he saying we might end up in a fight with [China|Russia]?

    Because if he is not then we'd be better served spending that money trying to stabilize the mid-east. And re-building our own infrastructure.

  • Think of an EMP as a beam weapon....
    • There is already a robot-killer... A human. Just flip the power switch and it's useless. Better yet, it can be captured and become part of your own fighting force. Finally, the board game Othello meets real life.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2014 @12:01PM (#48458379) Homepage

        Good luck sneaking up on a robot with 360 degree sensors and flipping a switch that's probably behind a locked panel when it's in combat mode. Or give commands to a robot that only takes digitally signed orders with a chain of trust all the way to a root key deep in a vault somewhere in the US, verified in hardware and tamper-proofed so you'll with 99.999% probability will break it before you can circumvent the signature validation. And even then they probably have unique single use kill codes to stop a malfunctioning robot. Assuming it won't just blow itself up rather than be captured, at least the essential bits. Sure you can take the physical parts like guns and fire manually, but I doubt you'll ever get much working software and without that you're still a man against a robot army that's totally indifferent to both your and their losses.

  • Those that the US wants to fight with robots will just do the same and everybody will be a lot less safe as a result. These people are incapable of learning from history and just make the same dumb and expensive mistakes over and over again.

    • The USSR would have had a hard time copying the nuke if the US had turned them into radioactive slag in 1945.

      • "The USSR would have had a hard time copying the nuke if the US had turned them into radioactive slag in 1945."

        Yes, and Great Britain would still be an empire if only Michael Moorcock's fiction was true.

        Back in 1945 USA had a whooping nuclear head count of... 6. Try to use them against such a big and unpopulated country as USSR, and the best you could hope is getting involved in a land war in Asia. I suggest asking Vizzini about that.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        So would have anybody else, as we now would be very deep into an ice-age. Suicide is not a victory.

    • Those that the US wants to fight with robots will just do the same and everybody will be a lot less safe as a result.

      I am not sure I understand your logic. Are you saying that our enemies will refrain from using robots unless we go first?

      • Those that the US wants to fight with robots will just do the same and everybody will be a lot less safe as a result.

        I am not sure I understand your logic. Are you saying that our enemies will refrain from using robots unless we go first?

        The real trick is in maintaining the right amount of edge. An unrestricted arms war costs the world economy trillions of dollars and results in destructive capability that is even more disproportionate to our ability to use it responsibly than there is now. During the cold war, America was sold on the idea that the Russians had nuclear stockpiles that were much bigger and more advanced than the reality turned out to be, and as a result America spent an ungodly fortune making more and more nukes. If both

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        In many cases, yes. In other cases, things will escalate slower, which is always a lot cheaper and always a lot better under control. Accelerating military progress is a losing game in a globalized world.

    • Remember how fast the USSR copied the nuke?

      Yeah, I also remember the USSR going broke trying to look like they had a military that could keep up with the USA. Let's see if any other nations want to go broke. No? OK.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        I would love to see the US go broke. (Well, they are, but the thing would be for the rest of the world to realize it...)

  • You have to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place... The only beneficiary is the MIC, at the expense of everybody else.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      You have to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place... The only beneficiary is the MIC, at the expense of everybody else.

      It begs the question of just how much money and resources have been spent on the endeavor of killing and how much further we would be as a race if it wasn't so out of control. Last time I looked the US spent about half its budget on the military to protect 'our way of life' meanwhile the everyday citizen is subject to their rights being trampled, limited prospects for employment and anyone who speaks up for themselves is labeled a tewworwist. Meanwhile war, now, is the ultimate reality TV show where the min

      • Last time I looked the US spent about half its budget on the military

        Maybe you should look again [wikipedia.org]. Military spending is no where near "half its budget". Not even close. America spends 3.8% of its GDP on the military, which is near to the all time low. The world as a whole spends 2.4% of world GDP, which is far lower than at any other time in history.

        • Re:Red Queen (Score:4, Interesting)

          by serbanp ( 139486 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2014 @03:25AM (#48455607)

          Sorry Bill, but this time you seem to be off mark. As a percentage of the federal budget, "Defense" is some 17.7%, to which I would add the DHS and NSA, for a grand total of about 20%. That's not spare change.

          When compared to the efficient way the other two agencies that command a large portion of the US budget (Health and SS) are run, it's hard to justify spending so much money on an endeavor so wasteful.

          In the end, the US military adventures in the last few decades have put the country in a tough place. Some of the actions have been unjust and for that the US is loathed by quite a few, some other created the impression of the US being the World Cop, therefore many expect it to act at a finger snap (e.g. in Syria and I still remember the debacle over *not* intervening in Rwanda). In the long run, this is a losing situation, no matter how many resources are thrown at it.

          • In fairness he mentioned GDP, not government budget. Assuming both of your numbers are correct the military is responsible for consuming about 4% of GDP, while the entire government budget is responsible for about 20% (20% of 20% = 4%).

            I agree that's certainly not chump change, and could be spent in far more productive ways, but a waste of 4% is unlikely to dramatically alter the course of human development, and is dwarfed by other, more voracious forces. In fact, as I recall it's estimated that between 20

          • When compared to the efficient way the other two agencies that command a large portion of the US budget (Health and SS) are run ...

            What the ... ?

            SS, efficient? How the hell is transfer payments from the young and poor to the old an rich efficient? What metric are you using, money spent to votes bought?

            • by serbanp ( 139486 )

              Silly, the overhead administering it is very, very low. Much lower than the private retirement funds.

              Are you really arguing against a system that helped old people live a little more decently? There is no denying that SS provided (and probably still does) a great social service.

              If you're lucky, you will get old too and it's very likely you'll see it differently from now.

              • Silly, the overhead administering it is very, very low. Much lower than the private retirement funds.

                Private retirement funds invest the money, and pay back from profits. SS does no such productive thing. Government collects 13% and then pays out minus its cut.

                Are you really arguing against a system that helped old people live a little more decently? There is no denying that SS provided (and probably still does) a great social service.

                SS is a Ponzi scheme that robs the next generation to feed a previous one. The "Rate of Return" of SS has been decreasing with each generation - because the ratio of suckers to payees has been decreasing.

                Even if SS became "sustainable", the benefits are wanting. Within families that care for their elders, all SS does is add overhead and extra

      • The 2013 military budget was 17.7% [wikipedia.org].

        We'd certainly be much better off as a race if we all got along and worked toward the common good. Any brilliant ideas how to keep people from killing each other en mass over territory, religion, ideology, etc? If so, there's a Nobel Peace Prize with your name on it.

        • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

          The 2013 military budget was 17.7% [wikipedia.org].

          We'd certainly be much better off as a race if we all got along and worked toward the common good. Any brilliant ideas how to keep people from killing each other en mass over territory, religion, ideology, etc? If so, there's a Nobel Peace Prize with your name on it.

          I think survival and the demise of the baby boomers will be the main drivers. A return to diplomacy I think would be the most simple way forward, however politicians are so concerned about looking weak that they have no ideas on how to be wise. Modern media is completely vapid because its job is to conceal the realization that our society has forgotten the deeper values that were it's foundations.

          It is like eating fast food all the time and expecting to be satisfied, you can eat it often when you are kid

  • How many more movies does Hollywood have to churn out before we get the message that this is a bad idea?
  • by koan ( 80826 )

    I'm not reading 72 pages of military sales pitches, but I do challenge this assertion:

    Pentagon officials are worried that the U.S. military is losing its edge compared to competitors like China

    That sounds like complete BS.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday November 24, 2014 @10:49PM (#48454275)

    THANK GOODNESS the Chinese haven't shown themselves capable of hacking our military's systems!

  • Soon other nations will do the same and have their army of robots too. Will robot vs robot wars prevent human deaths?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    One can go to great ones ordering atrocities when they can be completely certain that their armed forces are programmed never to turn against them.....

    It's not Skynet we need to be afraid of.
    It's the people declaring "enemy combatants", "insurgents" and "collateral" to be non-human and completely valid targets.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Monday November 24, 2014 @11:20PM (#48454383)
    We've seen this before, both IRL and on film.

    In the "news" (not in fact), there was a claimed missile gap [wikipedia.org] between the US and the USSR. This blew up (pun intended) just before the Kennedy/Nixon presidential election, and helped Kennedy get elected. Kennedy blamed Nixon, who was Vice President during the previous Eisenhower administration, of being responsible for this failure.

    In fact, the estimates about the number of Soviet ICBMs were grotesquely exaggerated [wikipedia.org].

    The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 11-10-57, issued in December 1957, predicted that the Soviets would "probably have a first operational capability with up to 10 prototype ICBMs" at "some time during the period from mid-1958 to mid-1959." After Nikita Khrushchev claimed to be producing them "like sausages", the numbers started to inflate. A similar report gathered only a few months later, NIE 11-5-58 released in August 1958, concluded that the USSR had "the technical and industrial capability ... to have an operational capability with 100 ICBMs" some time in 1960, and perhaps 500 ICBMs "some time in 1961, or at the latest in 1962."

    In a widely syndicated article in 1959, Joseph Alsop even went so far as to describe "classified intelligence" as placing the Soviet missile count as high as 1,500 by 1963, while the US would have only 130 at that time.

    It is known today that even the CIA's estimate was too high; the actual number of ICBMs, even including interim-use prototypes, was 4.

    So they were claiming over a hundred in two years, while the real number at the time was four.

    In Kubricks's film Dr. Strangelove, this was parodied as a mineshaft gap [wikipedia.org]

    Dr. Strangelove recommends that the President gather several hundred thousand people, with a high female-to-male ratio (10 to 1), to live in deep mineshafts where the radiation would not penetrate, and to then institute a breeding program to repopulate the Earth when the radiation has subsided. Turgidson warns that the Soviets will likely do the same, and worries about a "mineshaft gap". In the middle of this discussion, Dr. Strangelove miraculously rises from his wheelchair, takes a few small steps, and shouts, "Mein Führer! I can walk!".

    So in a time of shrinking budgets, when a Pentagon general gets up on a podium and screams "were falling behind, we need more money NOW!!!", maybe you should examine his claims very carefully. The Pentagon is not exactly a disinterested party. There is a lot of recent history suggesting he might not be right.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <[moc.talfdren] [ta] [tkram]> on Monday November 24, 2014 @11:20PM (#48454385) Journal
    ... where will the incentive for peace come from?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      ... where will the incentive for peace come from?

      From armies of dictionaries all wondering where the word 'faught' came from and why you felt it necessary to crap out such a nonsense word, when a perfectly viable alternative has already filled this role for a long time prior to your question.

      But please, don't let my post interrupt your dictionary-burning by any means.

  • "The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots."

  • ...welcome our new military robotic overlords, SIR!

    Cheers,
    Dave

  • Why fool with building robots and junk to fight each other? Let's just take the next step and follow the original Star Trek episode "A Taste of Armageddon" and let computer software decide who gets killed in simulated wars. Would save tons of money!

    Or you know, we could just try being peaceful with each other. The relative world peace we've enjoyed since WW2 has been nice. Sure there's been small wars here and there, but overall we've been pretty well behaved and civil with each other. Let's work impro

    • Or you know, we could just try being peaceful with each other.

      You don't have to sell peace to the common man. However, nothing concentrates money and power like a good war, so those up top calling the shots are always good for another conflict.

  • 1. "how the Pentagon's": not China's, not Russia's. 2. "...robots would..." not Could or Should but Would. 3. "...Automate War..." and not anything else. 4. bottom line: robots can now, or will later, surpass every skill you have. sports, medicine, and soon...innovation (or, at least, the inno that gets paid.)
  • Don't worry you will be able to get a cheap rip off kill bot from alibaba a few weeks after a hacker breaks into the American contractors system and steals the design blue prints.
  • and everyone will get a [very short] part whether they want it or not.

    I've listened to the idea that Nature will again do something to thin out the human race at some point. Our population is getting out of hand. Humans have managed to infest every corner of the planet and they are eating up all the resources they can find. It has been a long time since we have had a really good die-off. Readers here will be aware that the human race has suffered large population decreases in the past due to diseases and wh

  • ...another level of disconnect between us and our violence.
  • let's play a game

  • It's computers fighting each other. Don't bother with the mechanics. Let 'em duke it out over interconnects.
  • by andhar ( 194607 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2014 @04:40AM (#48455925)

    I'm convinced that anything they say is "coming" is already here, but not declassified yet. Just look at all the different military aircraft models that were long rumored, with the establishment pinning the sightings on crazies and the fringe.

    All this with high ranking officials opining that "we need a game-changing" technology is just the defence complex getting the pubic ready for a radical departure from the military status-quo, so that the reaction will be "Yay!", instead of "*Gasp!*".

    Politically, there's not been a better opportunity for a long time. The Gulf Wars and their sequels were OK for unveiling some fairly mundane tech, but the highly dedicated, but low-tech opposition found in those theatres weren't sufficient to create the requisite fear at home. It takes the Russian threat (which has been helped along by the West's strategically botched actions in Ukraine) to get people sufficiently anxious to be ready to receive some truly game-changing military tech with open arms. (Oops, no pun intended there.)

    • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

      I really like the DoD document. It is fairly approachable, e.g.

      http://ctnsp.dodlive.mil/files... [dodlive.mil]

      "a strategic policy issue for the United States with
      regards to the UOG boom will be the possibility of using our domestic energy resources for
      geopolitical influence, in effect turning the tables on the current major oil producers"

      I'm looking forward to a World where, for example, Eastern Europe and even Germany are not held hostage by Russia just because there is more oil under their soil and they tend to raise m

  • - for everybody. That would make actual war meaningless, since it would only be robots destroying each other. Then we could move it on to being a spectator sport, and we can then concentrate on going after terrorists and other criminal gangs. Sounds perfect to me.

  • They're working on the Bolo Mark XV Horrendous.
  • We have almost no option other than making certain that we can win a conflict regardless of the situation and high tech may be the more perfect form of sparing innocents. But the current that flows in the opposite direction is that we will lose if we can not afford our modes of war. In other words we need to deliver a lot of hell for a tiny cost. Old ways won't work. For example if you take a machine gun that fires 50 caliber rounds at twenty rounds per second and each cartridge costs $12.
  • "The specter of Kill Bots waging war without human guidance or intervention has already sparked significant political backlash, including a potential United Nations moratorium on autonomous weapons systems. This issue is particularly serious when one considers that in the future, many countries may have the ability to manufacture, relatively cheaply, whole armies of Kill Bots that could autonomously wage war. This is a realistic possibility because today a great deal of cutting-edge research on robotics and

You can fool all the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough. -- Joseph E. Levine

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