Automated Battlefield Blues



  • :unsure: Blood pressure shot up on me today as I read D L Cox's comments about the US Air Force SPAN program. I have no details to offer from my 34 year Air Force career because it remains highly classified. Nonetheless, the Turla article I offered today (7 March 2014) illustrates the softly stated question I openly pose now: What if SPAN or some similar automated weapons system were high-jacked by free-lancers that no government on earth seems able to control? Already I sleep poorly most nights, but tonight might be tougher than most for me. What do you think? Attachments: [img]https://forum.vivaldi.net/uploads/attachments/3031/Spyware.jpg[/img]



  • Yeah automated killing of people - the wet dream of every war monger.

    I already can hear it with my inner ear:
    "Oh, it killed 100(…)0 children too? Don't worry, that is only collateral damage. They would have grown up without parents anyway, thus becoming evil people we had to kill later, so in the end we did them a favor."

    Sorry, that makes me want to puke. It is high time for a big asteroid coming to reset the earth for a new start. This one is rotten, may be the next one will be better.



  • QuHno, having seen a few models that theorize about meteor strikes of varying sizes and trajectories, I agree that reset could occur, although happily our astrophysicists for now believe we're alright. Many days and nights I ponder the scenario to which you allude, and I agree that our time as a species on the planet has not been noble. Still, I personally feel more love now than ever for the millions I have observed that simply long for a peaceful life to raise their families and tend their crops. Only because of that sense of brotherly love do I voice opposition to the reset scenario. We humans have done horrible things in our time and we deserve reset, perhaps, but like Lot I must wonder whether if there are just a few good souls could we not keep trying?



  • Not meant to disrupt your sleep, Jerry. The purpose of the post was to discuss eliminating humans from the battlefield equation; with the greater goal of showing the futility of warfare for solving problems….



  • Thanks, DL, for your comforting thoughts. Having started my Air Force career as a US Marine in Viet Nam, I appreciate the dream of removing soldiers from the battlefield. Over time, however, I have perversely come to appreciate the terror and gore I witnessed as a warning to myself and my generation of the futility of war for solving big problems. While I am no masochist seeking more novel and potent ways to feel pain, I believe the only way generations learn about the futility of war is to experience its horror, either personally or vicariously through loved ones and friends. So I wonder whether automated weapons might reduce the learning of coming generations, with the net effect that they learn nothing from war.

    I have lost comrades, fellow platoon members, to both enemy and friendly fire. To take upon myself their torture and anguish has been a constant theme of my nighttime visions. Yet, now as an old man I hate war with deep passion because of those visions. Am I alone? Probably not, not at all.



  • @hamilton.jerry:

    So I wonder whether automated weapons might reduce the learning of coming generations, with the net effect that they learn nothing from war.

    The victims will learn - and there will be more victims because the aggressor with the automated weapons will be less inhibited to kill - but they will learn to hate. Signature kills (which are forbidden by international laws and by the US constitution) happen today. Now is The time to stop that madness is now!

    PS: Yes, I meant removing all humans and not by a human made meteor strike but by a natural one, a real reset. We have not earned our place on this planet if we act like this. Sadly every abomination that can be thought will be done. We are like that, history showed it, the preset time shows it and the future will show it too.



  • I don't believe in automated killing. I would prefer we were back to swords and spears. Separating the act from the actor sanitizes the end result so it can be ignored.
    I have a life that is somewhat parallel to yours Jerry. I don't have problems with sleeping. I have more PTSD from ex-wives then I have from war.
    Mankind is not special, as a matter of fact, humanity needs perhaps to pass away so a better being can come along. Frankly, I prefer dogs.
    War is not futile, it thins the hurd which is a good and necessary thing. It drives man's discovery of new and helpful materials, drugs and equipment.
    It is strange that our "parallel" lives are ending with very different attitudes.



  • Hi again, Jerry.
    Unfortunately, I am one of the modern Samurai. I was a SAC-trained killer and sat in the belly of a B-52 loaded with nukes, and engines running during the Cuban Missile crisis. None of us expected to survive. If we hadn't been ready to sterilize the earth in the Soviet Union, where would the world be today???
    Would it be safer? For some perhaps, but we would all be speaking Russian…..
    I agree that our present version of mankind leaves much to be desired. Nature will force our change and evolution fairly quickly due to collapse of the worldwide ecosystem as I alluded to in a previous blog post here...
    I also agree that an automated battlefield teaches us nothing, and is a a waste of precious resources. Nonetheless, it is better than what my best friend experienced during the Tet offensive in Vietnam, and another friend endured at Chosen reservoir in Korea....



  • @QuHno:

    Yeah automated killing of people - the wet dream of every war monger.

    I already can hear it with my inner ear:
    "Oh, it killed 100(…)0 children too? Don't worry, that is only collateral damage. They would have grown up without parents anyway, thus becoming evil people we had to kill later, so in the end we did them a favor."

    Sorry, that makes me want to puke. It is high time for a big asteroid coming to reset the earth for a new start. This one is rotten, may be the next one will be better.

    I read a very good book on the development of warfare and the philosophical problems with it some years ago, but I do not remember the author (British) or title.

    The biggest problem has been alienating the killer from the victim, and the decay of standards of military conduct. In the middle ages you would be dishonoured if you harmed a bystander. That was no small thing, it could mean that your family shield would have a black mark for generations and that you would be required by the church to perform some atonement.

    In the Napoleonic wars the soldiers would stand in their carré, not even trying to dodge an approaching cannonball. To do so would have been cowardice, because you would have put everybody at risk of a cavalry charge if the formation was broken.

    I believe there are objective criteria for both cowardice and war crimes, and that modern warfare encourage that kind of behaviour. A coward is somebody who endangers somebody else to ensure his own safety. A war criminal is somebody who puts civilians at risk. If any civilians are killed or wounded, there is reason to suspect cowardly foul play and possible crimes. If more civilians than military are killed, somebody has at least committed criminal neglect.

    Sometimes war will require commanders to make such decisions, but they should have consequences.

    This means that much of modern doctrine is both cowardly and criminal, and it is not the soldier who is most to blame. The biggest coward is the officer who requires the soldiers to keep their distance to the target and rely on second-hand information about what they shoot at. The biggest criminal is the politician who requires the military to use methods that are known to cause civilian damage so he will not have to face families of killed or wounded soldiers.

    Going the next step to automated warfare, we will see the ultimate version of this. Those who deploy remote-control or autonomous killing machines will be the ultimate cowards, and unless the operations are confined to a guaranteed civilian-free war zone they will also be the ultimate war criminals. Unfortunately, I think there is no way back. We already lost the moral high ground when the concept of "strategic bombing" was accepted.



  • @bv:

    … and unless the operations are confined to a guaranteed civilian-free war zone...

    But that's precisely the opposite of where it will lead. Witness the intentional distribution of military targets into otherwise "civilian" areas, as has been done increasingly in nearly every "undeclared" war and "national uprising" ever since and including Vietnam. In fact, the concept of using women and children as literal human shields dates back much further. The more weapons advancement that occurs, the more 'automatic' their killing action becomes, the greater the "force multiplier" that they provide, the greater will be the unleashed horrors of war - particularly against civilians.

    To the 1879 graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy:

    …I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.
    Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!

    – Gen.W.T.Sherman, June 1879.

    Indeed, war is Hell. And automated war will be automated Hell on earth.



  • As the angry mob gathers outside my home, torches in hand and cursing loudly, my computer reminded me that I've made Jerry a busy man with comments here. I do want to point out that presumably two humans are still in charge of the battlefield; sitting on the clouds high above, like angels or pot smokers. The best way to view this situation is that it is analogous to the invention of the machine gun in an age of single shot rifles. The response was the invention of the tank and the digging of trenches as in WW1. Amidst the carnage, humans are, and will be, in charge. The great danger is artificial intelligence and malicious computers like the HAL9000.



  • @DLCox:

    The great danger is artificial intelligence and malicious computers like the HAL9000.

    HAL 9000 was not malicious, he just got stupid instructions from humans - like " fulfill this mission", which it could do all by himself if needed, and "maximum secrecy" which it knew that humans were not capable of. The solution was simple: It could only fulfill the mission and keep maximum secrecy if the humans were eliminated.

    People today follow too much Asimov and his 3 rules. If there will be ever real artificial intelligence (IMHO there is no such thing as artificial intelligence, either something is intelligent and can solve unknown problems or it is not. I don't care if the electrons float through organic nerves or wires), the way it solves problems will be different to the way we do, but it still will be a full member of the intelligent beings out there. I wonder how we will treat them, especially if I see how we treat other intelligent beings that belong to our species.

    Our instincts and social behavior are still the same as those of our monkey like forefathers, only our technology became better.



  • @QuHno:

    People today follow too much Asimov and his 3 rules.

    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

    @QuHno:

    Our instincts and social behavior are still the same as those of our monkey like forefathers, only our technology became better.

    I don’t know about our instincts, but I disagree about our social behavior. Our species needs to find out how our brain works and how we can learn to think rationally. Secondly, we need to think through all isms and get rid of religions and other superstitions.
    Simple, but oh so difficult.



  • @leirom:

    A robot

    I don't like the term "robot". It has too many implications. The whole word is flawed from the beginning to even describe a true, but not human intelligent entity.

    Just as a side note to think about, not for discussion in this thread because we simply can not answer those questions (yet). The answers would need us to know (in opposition to believe) what we are.
    [ul]

    • What if the new entity is intelligent and self aware?
    • Would we even be able to recognize it as what it is?
    • What if it is truly rational?
      (Whatever truly rational means. I wouldn't even want to think about the implications of that. That is far beyond out reach today.)
    • Who are we to place ourselves over another entity that is?
      [/ul]


  • Hi QuHno,
    For sure, the definition of 'Intelligence' is a moving target. My wife occasionally compares mine to one of the bugs that climb across the lintel of our front door. We could learn a lot from studies of other intelligent species that we already share the planet with, such as dolphins, whales, and my own pet cat…. :P



  • QuHno, yes, if victims survive they surely will learn. The warrior's plans somehow imply, wrongly, that no victim will survive. When I finished school on the GI Bill and returned to active duty, one of my chief jobs for a while was to teach commanders about the Law of War, as we labeled it. A few of my students really grasped the victims' viewpoint, but the vast majority focused elsewhere. Thanks, QuHno, for your perspective, albeit somewhat too cynical for my tastes.

    Overall I'm glad I put this in the Lounge (instead of Debate & Discussion) 'cause if any of us took this light conversation more seriously, who knows what we might do or say? :P



  • In the 1950's I read a well-written piece describing a huge Air Force base in North America.
    A huge multi-engined bomber returns from a mission and is prepared for its next mission. Driverless vehicles refuel it and re-arm it with nuclear bombs. You see into the cockpit and realise that the bomber itself has no crew. You see more of the base and become aware that there are no people anywhere.
    But there are many more bombers, landing, and taking off, some showing signs of wear and age. And it also becomes evident that there are no people anywhere in the world. Humanity has been eliminated.
    But the war goes on.
    I can't remember where I read it or who wrote it.



  • But the war goes on.
    I can't remember where I read it or who wrote it. tt92

    You remind me of how I wrote one of my published novels. Farmer, an old, well loved sci fi writer, wrote something I enjoyed as a kid, so in my mid 30's I took his theme and elaborated in my own imagination to create a new world. Maybe you would consider trying that yourself on the idea of war continuing despite no more people? Or, if you prefer, maybe paint something like that image in acrylics or oils? Just a thought, as I read your comment. :cheer:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_José_Farmer

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_fiction



  • @hamilton.jerry:

    Thanks, QuHno, for your perspective, albeit somewhat too cynical for my tastes.

    De nada.
    Be happy that I did not yet switch to my full advocatus diaboli mode (the devil always belongs to the other party ;)), but I promise that I'll try to do my worst :evil:


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