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How the Pentagon's Skynet Would Automate War

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Reprinted from motherboard.vice.com

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Pentagon officials are worried that the US military is losing its edge compared to competitors like China, and are willing to explore almost anything to stay on top--including creating watered-down versions of the Terminator.

Due to technological revolutions outside its control, the Department of Defense (DoD) anticipates the dawn of a bold new era of automated war within just 15 years. By then, they believe, wars could be fought entirely using intelligent robotic systems armed with advanced weapons.

Last week, US defense secretary Chuck Hagel ann"-ounced the 'Defense Innovation Initiative'--a sweeping plan to identify and develop cutting edge technology breakthroughs "over the next three to five years and beyond" to maintain global US "mili"-tary-technological superiority." Areas to be covered by the DoD programme include robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, Big Data and advanced manufacturing, including 3D printing.

But just how far down the rabbit hole Hagel's initiative could go--whether driven by desperation, fantasy or hubris--is revealed by an overlooked Pentagon-funded study, published quietly in mid-September by the DoD National Defense University's (NDU) Center for Technology and National Security Policy in Washington DC.

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THE PENTAGON PLANS TO MONOPOLIZE IMMINENT "TRANSFORMATIONAL ADVANCES" IN NANOTECHNOLOGY, ROBOTICS, AND ENERGY

The 72-page d"-ocument throws detailed light on the far-reaching implications of the Pentagon's plan to monopolize imminent "transformational advances" in biotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence, information technology, nanotechnology, and energy.

Hagel's initiative is being overseen by deputy defense secretary Robert O. Work, lead author of a r"-eport released last January by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), "20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age."

Work's report is also cited heavily in the new study published by the NDU, a Pentagon-funded higher education institution that trains US military officials and develops government national security strategy and defense policies.

The NDU study warns that while accelerating technological change will "flatten the world economically, socially, politically, and militarily, it could also increase wealth inequality and social stress," and argues that the Pentagon must take drastic action to avoid the potential decline of US military power: "For DoD to remain the world's preeminent military force, it must redefine its culture and organizational processes to become more networked, nimble, and knowledge-based."

It is far from clear that the Pentagon's Skynet-esque vision of future warfare will actually reach fruition. That the aspiration is being pursued so fervently in the name of 'national security,' in the age of austerity no less, certainly raises questions about whether the most powerful military in the world is not so much losing its edge, as it is losing the plot.

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www.nafeez.blogspot.com

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the 'System Shift' column for VICE's Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work.

Nafeez has also written for The (more...)
 

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