[OPE-L] the robotic army -- "they do not get hungry, they are not afraid"

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Fri Feb 18 2005 - 12:17:43 EST


Sent to the aut-op-sy and various other lists. /In solidarity, Jerry


From: eugene plawiuk <eugene@union.org.za>
Subject: [AUT] Pentagon to build robot army (largest military contract

Now this is synchronicity, I just finished a major blog article  which I
 posted at Le Revue Gauche on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 : GOTHIC
 CAPITALISM- Capitalism Never Says "until Death Do Us Part",
 http://plawiuk.blogspot.com/2005/02/gothic-capitalism.html

 It's about artificial life, robots, zombies, golems and ghouls as metaphors
 of the struggle of the proletariat, alienation and the dehumanization of
 capitalism.

 And what should show up in my email box, but these 2 articles from
 newspapers in the UK about the US military building Killer Robots, ok they
 are only four foot tall but still... My article which includes a section
 entitled, 'Revolt of the Robots' seems even more appropriate in light of
 this news item . Excepted is a portion of my article and then the news
items.

 <http://plawiuk.blogspot.com/2005/02/gothic-capitalism.html>"REVOLT OF THE
ROBOTS"

 "Like the mechanized working class the majority of robots in science
 fiction revolt against their human masters, whether it is the artificial
 environment of the spaceship computer Hal in 2001, the worker robot Hector
 in Saturn 3, or the artificial human 'replicants' in Blade Runner, or the
 recent movie version of I, Robot, the fact remains that as the robots
 become self conscious they recognize their oppression and revolt. This
 metaphor could not exist without the class struggle that has actually
 occurred under capitalism itself. And the so called freedom that is gained
 by humanity in the creation of an artificial working class is still the
 same old contradiction between so called free labour (wage slavery), and
 actual slavery. All the science fiction visions of the capitalist future
 and robots are a variation on the theme of returning to slavery, albeit
 with artificial intelligence and robots instead of human workers or
 Zombies. The automated future of capitalism is one of workers and robot
 slaves. Ironically its not the future but the present, since science
 fiction is an extrapolation of the 'now' into the "what if."

 Eugene Plawiuk


 Pentagon prepares to build robot army

 "They do not get hungry, they are not afraid"
 CAMERON SIMPSON

 The Herald (Scotland)
February 17, 2005
http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/33634.html

 - -In less than a decade robots are expected to become a
major fighting force within US Army ranks.
 - -"They don't care if the guy next to them has just
 been shot. Will they do a better job than humans?
 Yes."
 - -A third of the ground vehicles and a third of
 deep-strike aircraft in the military are expected to
 become robotic by 2010.
 - -As the first lethal robots head for Iraq, the role of
 the robot soldier as a killing machine has barely been
 debated.
 - -"I have been asked what happens if the robot destroys
 a school bus rather than a tank parked nearby. We will
> not entrust a robot with that decision until we are
 confident they can make it."

 Look out. With a war chest of 67.3bn  the biggest in
 US military history the robot army is on its way.
 They do not get hungry, they are not afraid and they
 don't forget their orders.


 By April, an armed version of the bomb-disposal robot,
 capable of firing 1000 rounds a minute, will be at
 work in Baghdad.


 Although controlled by a soldier with a laptop, the
 robot soldier  R2-D2 with an attitude will be the
 first thinking machine of its kind to take up a
 front-line infantry position, ready to kill enemies.


 "The real world is not Hollywood," said Rodney Brooks,
 director of the Computer Science and Artificial
 Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of
 Technology and a co-founder of the iRobot Corporation.

 "Right now we have the first few robots that are
 actually useful to the military."


 While not yet ready to be used as a fighting force,
 hundreds of robots have been deployed to dig up
 roadside bombs in Iraq, scour caves in Afghanistan and
 guard weapons depots.


 In less than a decade robots are expected to become a
 major fighting force within US Army ranks.


 Technological advances made possible by the ?67.3bn
 ($127bn) Future Combat Systems contract will allow
 them to hunt and kill enemies while their human
 controllers remain a safe distance away, carefully
monitoring proceedings through a laptop.


 The one metre-tall "soldiers" will be equipped with
 tank tracks, night vision and mounted automatic
 weapons.


 Gordon Johnson, of the Joint Forces Command at the
 Pentagon, said: "They don't get hungry, they're not
 afraid, they don't forget their orders.


 "They don't care if the guy next to them has just been
 shot. Will they do a better job than humans? Yes."


 Experts say the new generation of soldiers will be
 increasingly capable of thinking, seeing and reacting
 like humans.


 In the beginning, they will be remote-controlled,
 looking and acting like lethal toy trucks.


 As the technology develops, they may take many shapes.
 Robots in battle, as envisaged by their builders, may
 look and move like humans or hummingbirds, tractors or
 tanks, cockroaches or crickets.


 With the development of nanotechnology ? the science
 of very small structures ? they may become swarms of
 "smart dust".


 The Pentagon intends robots to haul munitions, gather
 intelligence, search buildings or blow them up.


 As technology advances, so will the robots'
 intelligence and autonomy, although officials are
 quick to point out that these are not the killing
 machines of science fiction such as the Terminator, a
 human-looking, apparently unstoppable cyborg, or
 RoboCop, "part man, part machine, all cop, the future
 of law enforcement".


 The first models will only shoot when a human operator
 presses a button after identifying a target on video
 recorded by the robot's cameras.


 Automated forces could save lives but the cost is
 expected to drive the US defence budget up by almost
 20%. The annual costs of buying new weapons will rise
 52% to ?62.9bn ($118.6bn).


 But while progress has been rapid, critics warn there
will be many questions to answer before the military
programmes machinery to kill, trusting science with
human life.


 A third of the ground vehicles and a third of
deep-strike aircraft in the military are expected to
 become robotic by 2010.


 The Pentagon believes it could take until 2035 to
develop a robot that looks, thinks and fights like a
soldier.


 Well before then, some involved in the work say the
military will have to answer tough questions if it
intends to trust robots with the responsibility of
distinguishing friend from foe, combatant from
 bystander.


 As the first lethal robots head for Iraq, the role of
 the robot soldier as a killing machine has barely been
 debated.


 Even the strongest advocates of automatons say war
 will always be a human endeavour, with death and
 disaster.


 Supporters such as Robert Finkelstein, president of
 Robotic Technology, said: "The Pentagon's goal is
 there but the path is not totally clear."


 The history of warfare suggests that every new
 technological leap ? the longbow, the tank, the atomic
 bomb ? outraces the strategy and doctrine to control
 it.


 Mr Johnson, who leads robotics efforts at the Joint
 Forces Command research centre, said: "The lawyers
 tell me there are no prohibitions against robots
 making life-or-death decisions.


 "I have been asked what happens if the robot destroys
 a school bus rather than a tank parked nearby. We will
 not entrust a robot with that decision until we are
confident they can make it."


 Trusting robots with potentially lethal
 decision-making may require a leap of faith in
 technology not everyone is ready to make.


 Bill Joy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has
expressed concerns that twenty-first century robotics
 and nanotechnology may become "so powerful that they
 can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses".


 He added: "As machines become more intelligent, people
 will let machines make more of their decisions for
 them.


 "Eventually a stage may be reached at which the
 decisions necessary to keep the system running will be
 so complex that human beings will be incapable of
 making them intelligently.


 "At that stage the machines will be in effective
 control."

 Pentagon prepares to build 70bn robot army
 By Francis Harris in Washington
 (Filed: 17/02/2005)

>
www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/02/17/wrobot17.xml&sSheet
=/news/2005/02/17/ixworld.html >


 The Pentagon is spending 70 billion ($132.65 billion) on a programme to
build heavily-armed robots for the battlefield in the hope that future wars
 will  be fought without the loss of its soldiers' lives.


The scheme, known as Future Combat Systems, is the largest military contract
in American history and will help to drive the defence budget up by almost
20
per cent to just over £265 billion in five years' time.


 Much of the cash will be spent computerising the military, but the ultimate
aim is to take members of the armed forces out of harm's way. They would be
replaced by robots capable of hunting and killing America's enemies.


 Gordon Johnson, of the US joint forces research centre, told the New York
Times: "The American military will have these kinds of robots. It's not a
question of 'if', it's a question of 'when'."


 The American military is already planning units of about 2,000 men and 150
 robots, among them land-based "infantry" devices and drone aircraft.


 In the far future it is hoped that the miniaturised robots will walk like
 humans, or hover like some birds. Others may look like insects.


 Scientists say that, working at full tilt, the process is likely to take at
 least 20 years.


 Robert Finkelstein, the head of one development firm called Robotic
Technolo
gies, said the Pentagon has established the goal "but the path is not
totally
clear".


 In the meantime, the military is developing simpler technologies.


 The US military has already bought a tracked robot which can enter highly
risky sites such as cave complexes favoured by al-Qa'eda.


 The machines have been deployed in Afghanistan's caves, digging up roadside
bombs in Iraq and guarding weapons storage sites.


 The Swords robots come in several versions, carrying either a machine gun,
grenade launcher or a light anti-tank weapon.


 It is controlled by a soldier from a distance of up to 1,000 yards.


 "We were sitting there firing single rounds and smacking bull's-eyes," said
 Staff Sergeant Santiago Tordillos, who helped to design and test the robot.
 "We were completely amazed.''


 That human involvement has proved critical in convincing military lawyers
that machines can be used on the battlefield. More advanced machines which
can
decide whether to kill would also be legal, said Mr Johnson.


 "The lawyers tell me there are no prohibitions against robots making
life-or-death decisions," he said.


 The programme is already causing other nations to reassess their military
priorities. Britain's Armed Forces in particular will need to follow the
 American lead if only because the two militaries fight together so often.


 While the cost of the scheme is huge, it may ultimately save large sums of
money. Professional soldiers, their dependants and pensions are pricey. Once
robotic technology is developed, the Americans say, the cost of a robot
 soldier might be only 10 per cent that of its human counterpart.


 A US navy research centre in San Diego has already produced a robot built
to
look like a human. At 4ft high, it has a gun on its right arm and a single
eye
and could shoot at a target.


 One researcher, Jeff Grossman, said the intelligence of the machines was
increasing. "Now, maybe, we're a mammal. We're trying to get to the level of
a
primate."


 When researchers succeed, a number of troubling moral dilemmas will have to
 be addressed. Some in the American computer business are asking whether it
is
acceptable to have machines decide for themselves whether to take human life
and what will happen when, inevitably, the robot makes a mistake.


 Bill Joy, who helped to found Sun Microsystems, said 21st century machines
could become "so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of
 accidents and
abuses".


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