Terrorist robots dissected - anatomy of a scare
DIY cruise missiles - not as easy as you think
Analysis There's a fresh flurry of robot-terrorist headlines on the wires, following an autonomous-weapons conference held on Wednesday at a military thinktank in London.
The assembled military and academic bigwigs gathered in Whitehall were mainly thinking about the ethics of killer robot use by Western forces, but there was only one thing the media were interested in - terrorist robots, probably flying ones.
AP quoted Rear Admiral Chris Parry of the Royal Navy as saying: "Sooner or later we're going to see a Cessna programmed to fly into a building," and suggesting that remote-controlled aircraft - perhaps converted from toys - were "ideal [terror] weapons... They are cheap ... and they're difficult to detect — about as difficult to detect as a blackbird".
Admiral Parry is already mildly famous for predicting a Roman-empire style collapse of Western European civilisation, caused by Goth-like waves of migrants who fail to assimilate and remain connected to their home cultures by the internet and cheap flights. (We still think he was referring to Australians, Kiwis, South Africans and so on.)
The good admiral also presided over a MoD crystal-ball report last year, which seemed to predict a global middleclass rebellion against a power structure dominated by the super-rich. The admiral and his fellow report drafters seemed to suggest that this rebellion might make use of flashmob riots, electropulse blasters, or even brain chipping.
They also hinted that: "A cheap, simple-to-make and easy-to-use weapon might be invented that is effective against a wide range of targets."
Now Admiral Parry reckons he's found that weapon. He's not alone, in fact; various people have been warning about the possibility of terrorist or other bad hats building themselves a DIY cruise missile for some time now.
In fact, the thinktank discussion assumed as much (Word doc) to begin with:
"With small or mini Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) available for as little as USD$1000, the advantages of autonomous vehicles could easily be harnessed by militias, criminals and terrorist groups..."
Indeed, robopocalypse prof Noel Sharkey reckons he could do better, and build you a flying deathbot for just £250.
Is it goer? Well, sort of. Civil GPS is now cheap and easy, so your autonomous system can certainly guide itself to a known target location - let's say No 10 Downing Street. GPS is completely passive, which is nice as it means our homemade cruise missile won't be entirely simple to detect or meddle with electronically.
However, a £250 to £500 UAV - while it can surely fly a GPS waypoint track - can't lift any significant warhead. You could use it for spying or something, though anyone with a shotgun will be able to shoot it down if you get too close. This is not a killer robot.
But let's assume a bit more funding, just to be sporting.
re "I think" by AC
Quite right, bro.
And you don't even need as much as Plan B.
A while back there was a hyped up big scare here in New Zealand when postal workers found a mysterious white powder in a couple of envelopes - the worry was that it might have been Anthrax and it caused Nationwide alerts, decontamination procedures, hospitalisation of those who'd come in contact with the white powder and a media frenzy for a while.
How much would that have cost? Probably around a (NZ) dollar per letter including postage, the envelope and some random white powder. No one was actually harmed but the panic it caused, hyped up by the Allies of Terror (media and politicians), was enough to satisfy anyone intent on spreading fear. That was over just a couple of them.
It's got to the point that no one even has to die. Some numpty makes a "car bomb" with no chance whatsoever of actually detonating and the papers and news reports are full of "if it had gone off it could have [insert hyberbolic description of carnage here]" and screaming about near misses and calamity-barely-averted etc etc.
Whatever happened to the days when the terrorists actually had to KILL people to spread panic? Since when does "what if it had been a real car bomb/thermonuclear device/vial of cultured Bubonic" justify a nationwide furore?
And now its "Jeez, what if They try to emulate the superpowers and build fiendishly complicated devices, better sound the klaxons and send out the press releases!"
If I were the terrorists, I'd charge the media royalties every time they linked the name of my organisation to the actions of some nutter or to wild speculations about what we *might* do if we ever got out hands on a portable disintegrator ray and then use the enormous revenue that would create to retire to the Bahamas - after all, it's not like the terrorists actually have to lift a finger these days, they might as well kick off their shoes, stick their feet up and order a banana Daiquiri.
In New Zealand in1982, a rather disaffected young punk rocker named Neil Roberts blew himself up in an attempt to destroy the Wanganui Computer Centre (the repository of our police records at the time). All he managed to achieve was to make a bit of a mess for people to clean up.
Back then, most of the country just laughed and said "what a fucking idiot".
These days there'd be six months of "Oh noes! He might have destroyed us all and plunged us into the Dark Ages" and speculations that he might have connections with Al Qaeda because one of the guys in his class was a Muslim (or knew a Muslim).
Jeez, what if he'd built a rocket launcher out of some lengths of pipe and left-over Guy Fawkes' Night rockets! Calamity!
for all those in the fancy gadget camp remember this
"Keep it simple, stupid"
Plan a: use a dozen remote controlled aircraft to rain explosives down on a crowded area (a pro something or other rally).
Plan b: place timed explosives in or around village pubs also combine this with a suicide device in the queue for check in on a busy flight to the US at Heathrow.
See this was an interesting quote
"we have to fear is fear itself."
But I think we need the whole quote
"This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigour has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."
Our government now spread nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror in aim to paralyse us so that we retreat into our own houses, cowering in the dark, stay blind to the twisting changes that they enforce. Turning victory in WW2 and the cold war into defeat.
yah, it'll never happen, my arse
that somebody could build a deadly weapon from hobby grade gear is about as probable as a couple of hijackers with box knives flying a 747 into a building...oops!
Lack of imagination is what Saudi's pay the media for these days?
Let's look into a nice friendly gentleman who starred in the American version of your "Scrapheap Challenge" (Junkyard Wars over here). who builds his own pulse ramjet motors:
I've got his downloadable book but never received the full pay one before he got shut down, notably by a good "tolerant" government who uses tax law to lean on the "white" guy but lets the vile hate spewing terrorist rabble rousers go free. This gentleman was a decent man, inventor, and good all around backyard builder. He was helpful and answered questions from folks about his designs and research all the time until he tried to prove that yes, there is a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed. But that's not what insiders really want...they want people to relax, to believe there are no terrorists or racist, muslim extremists and hounded this guy out of business.
So you can take that holier than thou, can't be done, smarminess attitude and cram it. It's about time to start being part of the solution, not the problem. The solution is, wipe out evil where it exists, instead of coddling it, or kissing it's arse. Failing that, ridiculing the true evil instead of those defending you from it would be a great start.
So if there's nothing to fear but "fear itself", let's see Monsieur Page and the rest proudly wear some Danish "Mo-bomb-hed" T shirts and a nice friendly "Islam is da Shiite" bumper sticker on their car/scooter and prove how tolerant and peace loving the "religion of peace" truly is.