Automated Killing Machines on Their Own, With NO Human Guidance…

Hard to find a more chilling news story than this one from the Washington Post.

“This successful exercise in autonomous robotics could presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine aerial ‘Terminators,’ minus beefcake and time travel.

These drones will hunt specific people–and supposedly be able to pick them out from the innocents. And then kill them.

Robots, as the article points out, have no common sense. Their ability to discriminate a target correctly will always be in question– human beings, finely attuned to identity, wrongly identify people all the time. Robots, however well outfitted with facial recognition software, cannot be trusted to hunt down combatants…or terrorists… on their own…

But that is apparently what the military has in mind.

Here’s the Washington Post story:

Of course, I predicted these devices in my novel ECLIPSE PENUMBRA.

I’m preparing that book, along with Eclipse and Eclipse Corona, for a new omnibus edition of the A SONG CALLED YOUTH trilogy. And just went over this text yesterday:

Ahead, the crooked corridors of rock were sunk in shadow; dark, hunched figures shifted there. Lila said, “We cannot see them. Their uniforms are colored like the rock.” She took a flare gun from a pack lying on the ground beside her, dropped a shell in it, fired it; the shell arced up, down, and splashed the gray dimness with sparks and the blue-white dazzle of burning magnesium. Someone screamed, and even Claire smiled at that. Burn, you bastard, because you’re going to kill me.

And then they saw something else in the light of the flare.
Torrence remembered snorkeling once, off the coast of Florida, seeing a shark nosing slowly toward him among the coral formations. That’s what this thing looked like, from here. The shark in the undersea maze had swum past, ignoring him. This one wouldn’t do that.

It was a seeker missile, moving slowly — not much more than hovering in place, just drifting forward as it picked out a target — held up by jets on its underside, its tail rocket dormant, waiting for the missile’s microcomputer to make a decision, wavering in and out of the flare light behind it. The self guided drone was a sleek thing of shiny chrome, a sensing grid on its nose looking for heat in human-body outline. Nosing this way, that. Why was it taking so long? Maybe it was confused by the still flickering flare, reflected from the cold rocks. Soon it’d pick out the heat from a group of people, though, and it’d find its way —

One moment the missile was drifting in and out of shadow, almost absently; a split second later, rattlesnake flash, it struck, impacting with the top forward edge of the cratered boulder where Sortonne and Sahid had been … Had been.

Torn outlines of the two men were flung from the fireball; dolls from which some sadistic kid had torn the hands and heads. Warm droplets spattered Torrence’s cheek.

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