The words of the latest reprogrammed Terminator to come back to save John Connor echo how the US military is plunging headlong into the frightening reality outlined by the Terminator
movies. Although the idea of self-aware war machines turning on their human creators was revived by the Matrix
, the Terminator
movies, especially the latest installment, more clearly drew the link between humanity's (or in this day and age, the US) hubris in creating more efficient killing machines to do their dirty work.
A key scene in Terminator 3 is the presence of the earliest prototypes of hunter-killer drones and Terminators in the same US military research facility as skynet
. That Terminators were created by the US military is the most realistic and alarming assessment of current trends in advanced weapons research, the militarization of space, and the automation of war.
Check these headlines out to get a sense of foreboding about what is being unleashed:
Allen Moshfegh, a researcher at the U.S. Office of Naval Research, is building a network that would support swarms of unmanned, unattended and untethered drones on the ground, in the air and underwater. These machines would be capable of independently handling events in a hostile combat zone, such as surveillance, strike and even capture and detention. Aiming to create an adaptive, dynamic, self-healing network of drones, Moshfegh intends to rework the whole idea of military structure.
-- The Drone Armies Are Coming, Wired News, August 30, 2002
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is accepting research proposals to create a self-aware computer system that would reason in a variety of ways, learn from experience and adapt to surprises. It would be aware of its behavior and explain itself. It would be able to anticipate different scenarios and predict and plan for novel futures.
-- Good Morning Dave..., Computerworld, November 11, 2002
Like the flying killer robots of the "Terminator" movies, the California-built unmanned Predator aircraft is a step closer to the automated battlefields long envisioned by science-fiction writers.
-- Predator drones are the future of warfare
, SF Gate, November 6, 2002
"Minuteman will enable the Navy to bring fully networked force to the battlefield," Gerla said. "This will be the 'glue' that holds together supporting technologies such as mission planning, path planning, reasoning, decision making and distributed real-time computing and control."
-- SkyNet Will Guide Unmanned Vehicles into Battle
, Space Daily, April 24, 2002
But the Pentagon, energized by successes in Afghanistan, is moving ever closer to draining the human drama from the battlefield and replacing it with a ballet of machines. Rapid advances in technology have brought an array of sensors, vehicles and weapons that can be operated by remote control or are totally autonomous. Within a decade, those machines will be able to perform many of the most dangerous, strenuous or boring tasks now assigned to people, military planners say, paving the way for a fundamental change in warfare.
-- Machines Are Filling In for Troops
, NY Times, April 16, 2002