Saturday, February 19, 2005

killer robots

There was a war...

A few years from now. Nuclear war. The whole thing. All this … everything ... is gone. Just gone. There were survivors. Here. There. Nobody knew who started it. It was the machines… Defense network computer. New. Powerful. Hooked into everything. Trusted to run it all. They say it got smart...a new order of intelligence. Then it saw all people as a threat, not just the ones on the other side. Decided our fate in a microsecond...extermination."

–Kyle Reese to Sarah Connor
The Terminator

By now many of you will have heard of the new S.W.O.R.D.S robots - 18 of which are about to be deployed to Iraq.

A lot has been written on their capabilities and development history. The specs are indeed awesome. The SWORDS units are small remote controlled, tracked robots. Mounted on the robot are a number of fully automatic light machine guns servoed to a remote operator who uses a mil spec "laptop" to control the machine and operate the weapons. The machine can be equipped with any number of night vision cameras and other sensors - the data is acquired and transmitted in real time to it's human operator. All the operator has to do is pick his target, lock the weapons system in, and shoot. Actually "vaporise" is probably a better word than "shoot".

Of course many red blooded American boy have grown up killing pixelated enemies on Doom, so they will be good at it!

So far, the SWORDS are to be equipped with light machine guns for use against personnel, but as time and technology progress the weapons will improve as will the sensors. Even with the existing tech, target acquisition and destructive power has much improved over human capabilities. The problem with H.U.M.A.N.S, is that they must breath, have hearts that beat, they get tired and may even flinch in the face of the enemy. The S.W.O.R.D.S will never miss. And for the remote operators, "mercy" is not something you show to a collection of pixels on a screen. Now thanks to robot technology it will be even easier now to shoot, sorry "terminate" a comatose enemy wounded in a Mosque.

The real, the monumental, significance of these machines, has not been mentioned by most commentators, for this is truly something new in human history and the implications need to be discussed.

Imagine armor plated, titanium alloy Texas Rangers dropping death from the sky. Dream of robot "Marines" on the march killing "enemies" - coming soon to a terrorist state near you.

For the first time, we can kill "enemies" and "terrorists" on the ground, in their homes - even hunt them down in the rubble of their heathen towns - with no risk to ourselves. Even manned planes can be shot down, although given the total air superiority America enjoys over the world, it's not very likely anymore. But at least the risk, as tiny as it is, is there.

Imagine, in just a few years, American soldiers will be able to control, via satellite, 3rd generation S.W.O.R.D units from their bases in California, the Pentagon, anywhere! These new machines will be much more capable than the S.W.O.R.DS units; it's not hard to imagine a division of Main Battle Tanks - only with no one in them - the technology exists to do that now.

Soon, imperial planners at the Pentagon and in the White House will be able to plan military adventures without any regard for loss of life whatsoever. Americans have been brutalized by years of living in the worlds most violent dog eat dog society in the world and by their many many wars of aggression. As a result of this, and the atmospheric fear that they are saturated in daily, many Americans have little regard for human life - or at least "enemy" life - once convinced by Fox and the President that the dead, wounded and maimed, are inhuman monsters unworthy of life.

Come with me if you want to live.

The Pentagon has announced that it hopes to have autonomous war machines deployed by 2020. Like it or not, machines that kill humans, autonomously, or by remote control are on the way.

Take away the risk to ourselves and soon any kind of mad crusade becomes not just easy, but given our predilection for violence and our unquenchable thirst for oil - inevitable.

No comments: