US killer robots take jobs from flyboys, dolphins
Breadline for Flipper
"Team Warrior", a killer robot manufacturing alliance led by General Atomics of San Diego, CA, announced yesterday that its Warrior Extended Range/Multi Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System (ERMP UAS) would enter production for the US Army, another step in the US forces' ongoing effort to automate most military activities.
The Warrior is based on the design of the existing US Air Force Predator, which is already in action in southwest Asia and has also been used by the CIA for assassination missions.
The Predator, however, is only partially automated, in that it is flown remotely by a fully qualified pilot. In a step change from the usual military aviation environment, British and American Predator pilots typically remain within easy reach of Las Vegas. The killer drones' human technical attendants – previously seen as having the safer job – are required to serve in the warzone.
With the Warrior, the US Army intends to go one step further, eliminating the pilot altogether. "Army Warriors will be configured to fly autonomously, and will include an automatic takeoff and landing system to reduce accidents," according to General Atomics. But the Rise of the Machines isn't yet imminent. "Manual control will be possible," the company says.
The Warrior will carry a relatively limited weapons payload, typically a quartet of Hellfire II missiles. It will be able to destroy no more than four tanks or buildings before reloading. However, its new General Atomics stablemate, the evocatively-named MQ-9 "Reaper" can manage up to a tonne and a half of varied ordnance, or as many as 14 Hellfires.
In other robot-themed defence news, the US Navy today announced the award of a $45m contract to Remotec Systems of Clinton, TN, for "robotic systems, accessories, spare parts, depot level repair support, and operator and technician training".
These droids, though, will be programmed to preserve human life rather than mowing down hapless fleshies like corn. They are intended for bomb and mine disposal duties.
Admittedly, the initial Navy contract is focused on dry-land systems. Nonetheless, the move toward automation clearly presents a threat to the jobs of traditional warm-blooded ordnance-disposal operators.
In the US Navy a high proportion of these employees have traditionally been from the cetacean community, favoured for their willingness to work hard underwater for a largely fish-based remuneration package.
Alternative employment for these individuals is scarce, limited largely to the entertainment sector, suggesting significant dolphin hardship should the USN's automation programme result in layoffs. ®
I'll go with Auntie, thanks
rather than with some delusional jingoist who thinks that the U.S. has any interest whatsoever in 'competing economically' - at least on anything resembling a level playing field. The whole point of our continuing military aggression is economic and political control: we just don't particularly care about the physical territory that happens to go along with it.
And, unfortunately, it is *not* 'hard enough to prosecute a war where the enemy hides among the civilian population': it was too easy in Vietnam (where we so seldom heard about anything but American casualties, though IIRC Vietnamese deaths out-paced ours by about 40:1), and has been even easier in Iraq (where the ratio is more like 200:1, last I heard). Get that ratio back down to 40:1 (or better yet under 10:1) and I suspect we'll become a much kinder, gentler neighbor: good for the rest of the world, and good for us as well (little though most of us may realize it).
Contrary to what the Beeb would have you believe...
the US is not an aggressive empire building regime. It is much more profitable to compete economically. Also, just because you cannot measure the cost in lives does not mean that there are no costs.
Interesting that you should compare this development to that of the atomic bomb. Look carefully at history and see if you can figure out the number of lives that have been saved by the fear of the use of that monster. WWII cost millions of lives, and that style of warfare was accepted practice until the advent of the Bomb. Would Korea have sparked WWIII without the threat of mutually assured destruction hanging over the heads of the US and USSR? Would it have been the same with Vietnam? How about any of the minor little skirmishes around the globe since the end of WWII? The bomb however, managed to keep everyones head on straight through the cold war, and put a lot of incentive behind those that would find a peaceful solution to problems. In those days, a failure of the UN could cost more than sanctions. It was an ugly thing to be avoided, we have two examples of the outcome of failure to prevent use of the Bomb.
Now, as for Automated weaponry. We are not developing Cylons here. At least, not yet. It is hard enough to prosecute a war where the enemy hides among the civilian population and fights more through propaganda than through traditional combat with human guidance and control. We are far from turning over that sort of control to the machines, Captain Cyborg and malicious cyberloos not withstanding.
They're already here
Don't you get it ? This is not the work of humans ! The 'people' behind this are clearly themselves killer robots. This is how it starts, they'll unleash their army of flying gizmoids and WE will be the target, mark my words.
No Matron, no ! I...don't need any...more...medication.......