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

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@EBMS-LTD.CO.UK)
Date: Sun Feb 20 2005 - 08:14:29 EST


These issues do not change the actual social relations. We can see in the
quote copied here a direct replication of the notion of  the substition of
'constant capital', specifically 'fixed capital'  for 'labour',  central to
accumulation.

"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."

If identification and death is certain then  the issue of 'suicide warfare'
( from primitive and desperately wild charges at the enemy, to 'kamikaze',
or suicide bombers decisions) simply appears on a greater scale.  Death
before dishonour is not new. If identification and death is certain then
clearly the ruling class have to maintain the 'death sentence'.....ie
maintain barbarism to maintain rule. Thus  from the articles,  '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.'
 .
This is an extension of the Gauntanamo doctrine.

The key question remains, not what they do, but how do we stop all their
sickness?

PB.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Where does all this lead us


----- Original Message ----- 
From: <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
To: <OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU>
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2005 5:17 PM
Subject: [OPE-L] the robotic army -- "they do not get hungry, they are not
afraid"


> 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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