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The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots


The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots

César Chelala

The development of “killer robots” is a new and original way of using human intelligence for perverse means. Human directing machines to kill and destroy in a scale not yet imagined is a concept that not even George Orwell could have imagined. In the meantime, the leading world powers continue their un-merry-go-round of destruction and death -mostly of innocent civilians- without stopping to consider the consequences of their actions.


When so many Americans dismiss the mass killings of hundreds of thousands of dead foreign civilians as meaningless events, and treat the death or injury of every American (including those killed during the commission of atrocities and war crimes) as a tragedy and an outrage, it should come as no surprise that the nation welcomes unaccountable machines who can go out and kill to maintain our strategic control of the world and to prop up corporate profits without the bad PR of American casualties.

This is part of what Chomsky rightly calls "the Washington consensus," the agreement between the two monolithic parties that foreign lives mean nothing in the pursuit of American political dominance and economic power.


Very religious in its application. This caught me: "by allowing machines to make life-and death decisions we remove people’s responsibility for their actions and eliminate accountability." This is what happens when someone claims their religion requires it, when their choice to join a religion becomes their obedience to the religion, to a "higher" power.

This is also very solderish, as in "I'm only following my orders." The decision to join a military and to go along with it is then claimed to be obedience to a miliatary or political "higher" authority.

The decision to let loose machines with programming to make decisions (programmed by programmers who made the decision to take the job and to write the code).

We used to have a phrase: "Who cut your orders?" In other words who put you here, and for what? There is a chain of responsibility. Every link is responsible for keeping the chain whole and every link is anchored to its source. Handing off responsibility is just ducking and weaving. These are war criminals, all.


There is a twisted genius at work in our major institutions--religions, corporations, and the military--those at the bottom are only following orders, those at the top are accountable only to unaccountable entities (shareholders, gods, national security), and those in between are shielded by secrecy and bureaucracy.


First to be extinguished: inefficient consumers. Buy, dammit buy!


With 7.3 billion people in the world, humans have become a plague. I'm afraid that killing each other off will increase for economic and ecological reasons, and/or the world will have to adopt something like China's One-child Policy.


The projects that DARPA and military contractors are developing are horrendous:

So far, I have not heard any of the candidates for President raise this as an issue.

In one class engineering class that I taught, I asked students to consider the hippocratic oath and to reflect on the pros and cons of such an oath for engineers. Despite that fact that "ethics" is part of the test one must pass to get an engineering license, my administration put an end to my efforts to get prospective engineers to reflect on deciding not to engage in engineering aimed at harming other human beings.

It is disturbing that engineers would willingly participate in developing these heinous weapons of destruction. What I find, perhaps even more disturbing, is the enthusiasm that I have seen, in so many engineering students, to participate in projects aimed at developing some of this horrendous technology. Sadly, this enthusiasm is not surprising given the degree to which engineering departments have become directed toward military related research and the tendency of school administrations to dissuade critique of such research.


While the dominant message offered by likely soldier boys and girls who occupy these threads is that of blaming all U.S. citizens for what military insiders and their supporters do; you are incorrect in trying to put the development of these horrors onto American citizens--uncaring--as you falsely define them as one uniform entity.

You missed this, no doubt:

"The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that in 2012, 76 countries had some kind of drones, and 16 countries already possessed armed ones."


Again, ideological pains are taken to conflate the acts, objectives, and moral vacuity of militarists (and the elite powers who depend upon all this armed muscle) with that homogenous mass of humanity, itself... as if the two were one in the same.





At some point giving these autonomous killer robots an AI capability will be touted as a way to make them more efficient and safer.

"Warning this playground is protected by Acme Autonomous Security Robots with .50 cal and stun grenade capacity. Robots will fire upon unauthorized use and detection of a threat. No plastic toy guns allowed. Sandbox use is at your own risk. Do not simulate digging foxholes with pails and shovels!"


Siouxrose, I am doing exactly what you accuse me of: saying that most Americans don't care what we've done in Iraq and Afghanistan, and pretending that the only people worth discussing in the discussion are the US military personnel involved.

My references range from the media to Army Times to personal discussions to Facebook posts to the way Iraq and Afghanistan are discussed by establishment progressives. It's 10 to 1 the number of times American casualties are mentioned compared to the number of civilian casualties. Whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning are labeled traitors, while the crimes they reveal are ignored. Obama supporters do not seem to care that he echoed George Bush in his praise of our invasions of those countries.

However I stand to be corrected; please feel free to provide your evidence that there is some groundswell of popular opposition to the military and our foreign policy that has eluded me.


You don't have to train robots to be killers


Why the hell do you think that their selling and your buying all of those Game Boys and X-Boxes for your children and grandchildren! You've got to get them young. The government learned that a long time ago. That's why you get commercials all the time for World of Tanks, Game of War, selling war to young men and teenage boys using Kate Upton, World of Warcraft, The HALO series, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Avenging Spirit, Dual Blades Jane's Advanced Strike Fighter, 007 Nightfire and Homefront: The Revolution Game! Congratulations folks, you've made Tom Clancey and a bunch of other people extremely rich. Just remember, the more of these games you buy for little Johnny, the less time he has to spend in advanced training after he gets out of basic! Still not convinced that this country is circling the drain? Then check out Bill Maher's New rules from last night 10/09/2015 on HBO! The last New Rule says it all!


Neal Asher's Trilogy:
"Zero Point"
"Jupiter War"
These three books follow a theme of future despair and militaristic depravity loosely based on the use of "robots" not only to conduct most warfare but also for general "earthly population control".
The year(s) are around 2154.......horribly overpopulated Earth "needing" a reduction of more than 12 billion people which requires the use of "robotic body inserts" to execute...
"Reader Guns", "Spider Guns"; "chipped humans" and much, much more.
The future becomes the present.
More than one commenter on this article has referenced the obviating of the responsibilities of the destruction of physical and human lives in some of our modern warfare practices, "giving" that moral decision to robots and claiming, "collateral damage" when the process goes awry as a form of moral depravity in warfare. I agree.
That's the problem.
We are making warfare "easier" for those in power.
That's a gross moral failing of our societies.


Bing-o! Well spotted.