Tag Archives: violence

Killer Robots: Applying arms-control frameworks to autonomous weapons

October 5, 2021  |  Zachary Kallenborn

Brookings

“Mankind’s earliest weapons date back 400,000 years—simple wooden spears discovered in Schöningen, Germany. By 48,000 years ago, humans were making bows and arrows, then graduating to swords of bronze and iron. The age of gunpowder brought flintlock muskets, cannons, and Gatling guns. In modern times, humans built Panzer tanks, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and nuclear weapons capable of vaporizing cities.

Today, humanity is entering a new era of weaponry, one of autonomous weapons and robotics.

The development of such technology is rapidly advancing and poses hard questions about how their use and proliferation should be governed. In early 2020, a drone may have been used to attack humans autonomously for the first time, a milestone underscoring that robots capable of killing may be widely fielded sooner rather than later. Existing arms-control regimes may offer a model for how to govern autonomous weapons, and it is essential that the international community promptly addresses a critical question: Should we be more afraid of killer robots run amok or the insecurity of giving them up?

The current state of autonomy

The first use of an autonomous weapon to kill is thought to have occurred in March of 2020 in Libya, but what actually happened in remains murky. According to a UN report, a Turkish-made Kargu-2 drone is reported to have autonomously “hunted down” members of the Libyan National Army. If the manufacturer’s claims are correct, the Kargu-2 can use machine learning to classify objects, apparently allowing it to “autonomously fire-and-forget.” Turkey denies using the Kargu-2 in this way, though seems to acknowledge the Kargu-2 can be used autonomously. Regardless of whether Kargu-2 was used autonomously in the episode in Libya, the claim that Kargu-2 can be autonomous is plausible on its face.

The United Nations report about the Kargu-2 caused an uproar. Sensationalist headlines compared the Kargu-2 to a “Terminator-style AI drone” that “hunted down human targets without being given orders.” These stories conjured images of out of control, sentient robots killing as they saw fit. To be blunt, that is nonsense. Although artificial intelligence—technically a super intelligent narrow AI—can beat the world’s best human chess and Go players, that is far from a generalized, human-level intelligence like the Terminator. In fact, a sticky note is enough to convince a cutting edge machine vision system that an apple is an iPod.

But simple autonomy is not that hard, and autonomous weapons have been a feature of warfare for centuries. Autonomy is about machines operating without human control. The weapon just needs a sensor, a way to process sensor information, and activate the harmful payload. During the American Civil War, Confederate forces deployed the “Rains Patent,” a simple landmine made of sheet iron with a brass cap sealed in beeswax to protect the fuse. When Union soldiers put sufficient pressure on the Rains Patent, it exploded.

Modern autonomous weapons play a real, but relatively limited role in military operations. The Ottawa Convention banned anti-personnel mines, but anti-vehicle and sea mines are still used. Loitering munitions are somewhere between a drone and a missile, hovering above a battlefield and striking targets that meet various designations. The U.S. Phalanx close-in weapon system, the Israeli Iron Dome, and various active defense systems defend against incoming missiles and other close range risks with varying degrees of autonomy. Along the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea, South Korea has deployed the SGR A-1 gun turret, which reportedly has an optional fully autonomous mode. This is just the beginning.

Though hype in the view of some, artificial intelligence has won over the world’s great military powers as the next great military technology. The U.S. National Security Commission on AI recently concluded that “properly designed, tested, and utilized AI-enabled and autonomous weapon systems will bring substantial military and even humanitarian benefit.” The Chinese People’s Liberation Army believes AI could fundamentally change the character of warfare. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim—that the world’s AI leader “will become the ruler of the world”— has become cliché.

Such excitement has translated to new research, prototypes, and increasingly operational autonomous weapons with increasing degrees of sophistication. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—the U.S. military’s high risk, high-reward research and development center that helped birth the internet and GPS—ran a virtual dogfight between an F-16 Fighting Falcon and an artificial intelligence last year. The AI beat the human in each of five rounds. China is doing the same, with similar results. The United StatesChina, and Russia are all developing loyal wingman drones: unmanned semi-autonomous or autonomous aircraft that support manned aircraft. The pilot provides strategic decisions, while the artificial intelligence manages the details.

Growing autonomy is closely tied to the rise of unmanned platforms. Numerous states are testing, building, and deploying a wide range of unmanned aircraft, shipssubmarines, and tanks. Unmanned platforms require remote orders to achieve their mission. That’s tough when militaries cannot provide the full staff needed and pilots burn out from overwork. Plus, enemies seek to jam, manipulate, or otherwise interfere with the signals from the pilots to the drone. The more that unmanned platforms can operate without human control, the less need for those signals and the people sending them.

States are integrating unmanned platforms into drone swarms, and in May, Israel became the world’s first to deploy a swarm in combat. In a true drone swarm, the drones communicate and collaborate, forming a single weapons platform. While drone swarms are not necessarily autonomous weapons, no human could control 10,000 drones without artificial intelligence helping. Israel’s groundbreaking use of a drone swarm appears to have consisted of an unknown number of small drones equipped with a mixture of sensors and weapons. Israel’s swarm use is just the beginning. India tested a 75-drone swarm last year, and earlier this year, South Africa’s Paramount Group revealed a swarming system of 41-kilogram long-range drones that cruise at more than 100 miles per hour. Russia, meanwhile, is designing swarms for anti-submarine warfare. Numerous other states are developing other swarm applications.

Assuming these trends continue, autonomous weapons will increasingly enter the battlefield. For some, that’s terrifying.

In his Christmas address of 1937, the Archbishop of Canterbury posed a prescient question: “Who can think without horror of what another widespread war would mean, waged as it would be with all the new weapons of mass destruction?” Arms control debates are rooted in fear, and treaties to control the spread of weapons have sought to address them. Advocates of arms-control treaties fear the consequences of horrific weapons of war spreading widely. Opponents fear what might happen if their adversaries build such weapons, but they cannot. These dueling fears animate everything from gun debates around the dinner table to nuclear arms debates at the United Nations. The proliferation of autonomous weapons creates new fears: that autonomous weapons might misidentify a civilian as a soldier and killing him, that autonomous weapons will provide an enemy state a decisive edge in war.

In an autonomous weapon, the system decides when to engage by processing environmental stimuli. Landmines, for example, use simple pressure sensors—the sensor sensitivity determines whether the heft of a tank or the hands of a child are enough to trigger the explosion. Conversely, an anti-radar loitering munition homes in on radar signals. The risk of error—and by extension the arms control concern—depend on the type of environmental stimuli, how the stimuli is processed, and the type of decisions made.

Emerging autonomous weapons using machine learning process stimuli in more complex ways. Machine learning systems rely on large amounts of data to draw conclusions about what the system observes. But the data dependence also makes them brittle. Color differences, tree branches, or foggy days may confound the ability of the system to correctly identify a target. Although some states may adopt robust verification and testing programs to increase reliability, others may not. As autonomous weapons are deployed in larger numbers, arms control advocates fear a higher likelihood of something going horrifyingly wrong.

As autonomous weapons scale into massive drone swarms, the uncontrolability and potential for mass harm create a new weapon of mass destruction. Imagine 1,000 Slaughterbots flitting about a city, deciding who to kill. And that’s not terribly outlandish: India wants to build a swarm of 1,000 drones operating without human control. And the Naval Postgraduate School is modeling swarms of up to a million drones, operating underwater, on the ocean’s surface, and in the air. Particularly nefarious governments might equip the drones with facial recognition to assassinate regime opponents or carry out ethnic cleansing. States have adopted a wide range of policies to reduce similar risks from traditional weapons of mass destruction, including export controls, arms control treaties, and deterrent and coercive threats. If drone swarms are weapons of mass destruction, they deserve similar risk reduction policies.

At the same time, militaries see great value in the development of autonomous weapons. Autonomous weapons offer speed. A typical human takes 250 milliseconds to react to something they see. An autonomous weapon can respond far faster—Rheinmetall Defense’s Active Defense System can react to incoming rocket-propelled grenade in less than one millisecond. According to General George Murray, head of the U.S. Army’s Future Command, that speed may be necessary to defend against massive drone swarms. These weapons may be the difference between survival and defeat. Giving them up in an arms control treaty would be foolish.

Militaries also dispute the risk of error. Humans get tired, frustrated, and over-confident. That creates mistakes. Autonomous weapons have no such emotion, and advocates of military AI applications argue a reduced error-rate makes pursuing the technology a moral imperative. Plus, artificial intelligence can improve aiming. That reduces collateral harm. For example, Israel reportedly used an artificial intelligence-assisted machine gun to assassinate an Iranian nuclear scientist without hitting the scientist’s wife inches away. So, in their view, what are arms control advocates really afraid of?

Work on this issue is ongoing. Diplomats have debated autonomous weapons issues under the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons since 2014. These meetings have accomplished little to create an international treaty on autonomous weapons, but they have helped clarify state positions, brought greater attention to the topic, and better articulated concerns regarding autonomous weapons. Arms control advocates have called for bans and new treaties, but these vary in scope. Groups like the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots argue all autonomous weapons must be banned. Others, like the International Committee of the Red Cross, have a more nuanced view, focusing on “unpredictable” weapons. Human Rights Watch estimates 30 states have endorsed a complete ban.Great military powers have resisted a new arms-control regime, arguing existing international law is sufficient to cover autonomous weapons. Researchers have also floated alternatives to arms control treaties, such as norms and bilateral and multi-lateral confidence-building measures.

The global community must now resolve the tension of fear between arms-control and military advocates. That means serious debate on which types of autonomous weapon offer the most military value and which present the most risk to civilians and noncombatants. Weapons with high risk to civilians and low military value should form the basis of conversations around risk reduction.

Existing arms control treaties offer models to address these complexities. The Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Landmines narrowly focuses on anti-personnel landmines, excluding anti-vehicle landmines that require high pressure to detonate. An autonomous weapon treaty might focus on anti-personnel weapons using machine learning, given the challenges of distinguishing farmers from soldiers. A more precise treaty may allow military powers to separate weapons they fear giving up from the weapons arms control advocates fear proliferating. This may make getting an okay from those powers easier.

Autonomous weapons might also be tiered based on characteristics that make them more or less risky, akin to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s schedules. The convention divides chemical agents into three schedules, based on their historical use as chemical weapons and use for civilian purposes. Chemicals in each schedule have different restrictions placed upon them. Autonomous weapons could also be tiered based on the risk the weapons pose, particularly the risk to civilian populations if the weapon errs and the likelihood of an error. Defensive turrets used at sea to defend against incoming missiles would likely be of lowest risk, while offensive weapons targeting people using machine learning would be a higher tier. Autonomous chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons are the highest risk, and should never be used.

Debate is needed on the best policy approaches to stem the proliferation of the highest risk weapons, and reduce broader global risks. Existing global discussion has focused on whether international treaties should ban the weapons, but that’s just a start. Even if autonomous weapons are banned in whole, in part, or not at all, governments must consider how to ensure they are not inadvertently exported to states not party to the ban. Restricting access to terrorist groups is an extra, different problem as autonomous weapons are simple enough to be made as a classroom project. And if a new international treaty is established, an obvious question is: How can it be given teeth? If a state uses a banned autonomous weapon, should they suffer retaliatory diplomatic or economic sanctions? When, if ever, should the United Nations Security Council endorse military action?

The era of killer robots is here. What comes next is up to the world.

Zachary Kallenborn is a research affiliate with the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, a policy fellow at the Schar School of Policy and Government, and a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command “Mad Scientist.” 

 


War Criminals: Obama, Trump, every President (since WWII), A few reasons why…

KnowDrones was founded in 2012 to inform the American public about the illegality, immorality and dreadful human consequences of U.S. drone attacks in order to bring about: (1) a complete halt to drone attacks; and (2) an international ban on weaponized drones and military and police drone surveillance.

‘We can’t bomb our way out of a pandemic’

John Nichols | ‘We can’t bomb our way out of a pandemic,’ says Pentagon critic Mark Pocan

24 August 2021
Cap Times

Original Link 


“U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is a voice of sanity amidst all the partisan wrangling over the messy withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Of course, he’s been frustrated by the disorderly evacuation process, and he has been outspoken in arguing for the rapid resettlement of refugees.

“The United States has a duty to honor its commitment to the Afghanis who helped our efforts, such as guides and translators,” he said. “We must ensure these refugees are allowed to reach our shores as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Yet he remains a thoughtful supporter of the decision to end the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

A longtime critic of U.S. military adventurism, Pocan supports the withdrawal as an acknowledgement of the reality that nation building of the sort that was initiated almost two decades ago by the administration of Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush was never going to work.

“You can’t go into a country like Afghanistan and expect to leave it with Dunkin Donuts and Disneylands,” he said. “And too often I think that that is what we try to do.”

What should we do?


Yes. Cut the spending on profiteering waste and fraud. It is wrong for the US government to violate the rights of other people.

The US government is a gangster, not the world police.  Murdering people to steal their resources or other reasons is a violation of their natural rights, human rights and likely their legal rights.  Americans are not the only people who enjoy liberty.

#WarIsARacket

#Accountability for all.


~ Ratified Treaties have the POWER of US law  ~

 

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. 


~ Charter of the United Nations ~

Chapter VII — Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression


~ Convention II Article 2 Geneva Conventions ~ 


Shatter the Myths of Empire – Matt McKenna

The Costs of War: Panel and Discussion [Watch Recording]

link to recording
 Zoom Panel and Discussion on The Cost of War

We had an excellent lineup of guest speakers.
 

All wars have large costs, which the political, financial, and governmental elites instigating the conflicts would rather the citizens minimize –but pay for. With a “volunteer military”, outsourcing, drones, and “smart bombs”, the war-makers attempt to hide the costs of war. The true story, however, is much grimmer.


****************************************
Panelists:
 
***Veteran of the “War on Terror” Brittyn Calyx who will talk about the cost of war on the individual veteran and the impact of war on their own life.
 
***Vietnam veteran, artist, and peace activist David Giffey, who will speak on the societal costs of war,
 
***Dr. Eileen Ahearn, a long-time psychiatrist at the VA in Madison, Wisconsin who will take a look at war and moral injury and
 
***Rev. David Couper, who brings his experience as a veteran, former Madison police chief, and Episcopal priest, and will discuss the militarization of policing.
 

Each panelist will be given about 10 minutes to speak, followed by Q&A. We will use the Zoom chat box to field questions from our panelists.

Facebook Event for Costs of War Discussion

 

Peace
Fran Wiedenhoeft, faw231@aol.com608-576-7416
Primary organizer
Veterans for Peace Madison

War Criminals: Obama, Trump, every President (since WWII), A few reasons why…

Compiled by Brad Geyer

 

Wars of aggression are illegal under international law. Treaties ratified by the United States are no different than US law according to the Constitution. Preemptive war is illegal including Iraq, now Libya and a number of other places we are fighting around the world.

 

It is illegal to wage an aggressive war, aid rebels in a civil war, threaten another nation with aggressive war, and to use propaganda for war.

 

It is illegal to attack a hospital, destroy civilian food and drinking water supplies, destroy undefended targets, bomb neutral countries, and indiscriminately attack civilians.

 

It is illegal to use napalm, white phosphorus and depleted uranium as weapons. It is illegal to use chemical and biological weapons. It is illegal to fail to accept the surrender of combatants, it is illegal to pillage, to fail to attend to the wounded, to have extrajudicial executions. It is illegal to fail to discipline or prosecute subordinates who commit war crimes. It is illegal to fund war mercenaries.

There are more, but I think you get the idea…

There are simple truths. Some, which we are taught to ignore.  The people in power teach us to dehumanize other peoples, in order to make the killing easier or more efficient.

Simple truth: People have human rights.  Nations have sovereignty.

Aggressive warfare is a violation of law.  A nation must be under attack to use self defense, and still needs to work with the UN Security Council.

 

Why would people of other nations have any less rights and responsibilities or protections than we enjoy?  We would be better off in a world where there was liberty and justice for everyone, not just protections for those on the side of red, white and blue.

 

Charter of the United Nations, Chapter VII — Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression

 

Convention II Article 2 Geneva Conventions  

“In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance. Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof. ”

Wikipedia:  “In international law, the term convention does not have its common meaning as an assembly of people. Rather, it is used in diplomacy to mean an international agreement, or treaty.

With two Geneva Conventions revised and adopted, and the second and fourth added, in 1949 the whole set is referred to as the “Geneva Conventions of 1949” or simply the “Geneva Conventions”. Usually only the Geneva Conventions of 1949 are referred to as First, Second, Third or Fourth Geneva Convention. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservationsby 196 countries.[1]

 

Example specific to Syria that apply beyond those borders also.

“…The supply of arms to the Syrian opposition would amount to a breach of the customary principle of non-intervention and the principle of non-use of force under Art. 2 para. 4 of the UN Charter.”

The supply of arms to opposition groups in Syria and international law 

 

Is it legal to supply arms to Syrian rebels?

“International law prohibits states from intervening in the affairs of other states. Commenting upon and discussing situations in other states is not caught by this prohibition, but actions of a coercive nature are. The use of force is arguably the most obvious form of such coercion, whether manifested by direct intervention through the use of a state’s own military forces or indirectly through the provision of arms and training to opposition forces.

The only two established exceptions to the prohibition of the use of force in international law are actions taken in self-defence and those taken under the authorisation of the UN Security Council…”

 


Then there is the use of torture and assassinations. Illegal torture continues in secret and openly by our troops. The Joint Chiefs of Staff has a list compiled under the direction of now President Obama of Americans who shall be assassinated. One person they have admitted to being selected for assassination is Anwar al-Awlaki.

 

Congress has the power to declare war not the President.

 

About 90% of those killed when we wage war are now unarmed civilians regardless of the claims made by our leaders about our “precision” weaponry and great technology. They are also bringing this war mentality home, and the criminals will need to because eventually Americans will stand up to the tyrants.

 

The Posse Comitatus Act (and Title 10 of the United States Code) prohibits members of the US military from exercising law enforcement powers on non-federal property within the United States. The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act allowed the use the Armed Forces in major public emergencies after hurricane Katrina, but was repealed in 2008 reverting to Posse Comitatus Act and The Insurrection Act of 1807. (The Insurrection Act of 1807, in the opinion of a number of Constitutional scholars is unconstitutional and would be found so if they ever bothered to test it in court.)

 

America’s Economic Blockades and International Law

“Military blockades are acts of war, and therefore subject to international law, including UN Security Council oversight. America’s economic blockades are similar in function and outcome to military blockades, with devastating consequences for civilian populations, and risk provoking war. It is time for the Security Council to take up the US sanctions regimes and weigh them against the requirements of international law and peacekeeping…”

 

So much for accountability.  August 2013
Obama Gives Bush “Absolute Immunity” For Everything

 

Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War

 

US Has Killed More Than 20 Million In 37 Nations Since WWII 

 

U.S. War Crimes and The Need To Recognize The Psychology Of Evil

Also Carl Herman:
“Recognized facts of US wars:
No nation’s government attacked the US on 9/11. The US acknowledges the Afghanistan government had nothing to do with 9/11. The UN Security Council issued two Resolutions after 9/11 (1368 and 1373) for international cooperation for factual discovery, arrests, and prosecutions of the 9/11 criminals.

The Afghan government said they would arrest any suspect upon presentation of evidence of criminal involvement. The US rejected these Resolutions, and violated the letter and intent of the UN Charter by armed attack and invasion of Afghanistan.

For more detail, I recommend International Law Professor Dr. Francis Boyle’s “End the crime that is the war on Afghanistan.” The US government acknowledges Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The UN Security Council issued a standing cease fire that no single nation could violate by resuming armed attacks. The UN Security Council also resolved for weapons inspections that were nearly complete when the US violated the cease fire, weapons inspections, and letter and intent of the UN Charter with armed attack.”

The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us – John Pilger