Thursday, October 25, 2012

Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures

Tripletitios gave me as a present an Argentinian Tshirt with Andes as a ripoff of the iconic cover for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. Turns out the original is data observed from a pulsar. Cute, no? (Thanks to Mason for digging this one up).

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Drones: who's doing the thinking here?

Let's think for a moment. You develop a weapon that in a few years will cost no more than a moped, controlled by electronics already built into smart phones. As you are doing it first, you have an advantage over your opponents and you go kill lots of  'collateral' people in places like Pakistan. The military just does it, there is no civilian oversight. The populace loves it because they have seen techno-killings works so well in the movies. So now lots of people out there really really hate you. They are smart, really smart. And they are committed.

How long will it take for one of these things to fly in a target somewhere in US? 

Agence France-Presse is reporting that the Pentagon wants its drones to be more autonomous, so that they can run with little to no assistance from people.
“Before they were blind, deaf and dumb,” Mark Maybury, chief scientist for the U.S. Air Force, told AFP. “Now we’re beginning to make them to see, hear and sense.”

Ronald Arkin, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, believes that drones will soon be able to kill enemies on their own independently.
“It is not my belief that an unmanned system will be able to be perfectly ethical in the battlefield, but I am convinced that they can perform more ethically than human soldiers are capable of,” Arkin told AFP.
Arkin added that robotic weapons should be designed as “ethical” warriors and that these type of robots could wage war in a more “humane” way.

[...] Earlier this year, Singer wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times about the use of drones. In the piece, entitled “Do Drones Undermine Democracy?” he says the use of drones is “short-circuiting the decision-making process.”
“Without any actual political debate, we have set an enormous precedent, blurring the civilian and military roles in war and circumventing the Constitution’s mandate for authorizing it,” Singer wrote. “Freeing the executive branch to act as it chooses may be appealing to some now, but many future scenarios will be less clear-cut. And each political party will very likely have a different view, depending on who is in the White House.”
There are currently more than 7,000 drones being used in combat.