Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Apocalypse Now

Some sobering news from the Independent by way of Z-NET this week, emerging from the meeting in Exeter on climate change. The Kyoto Protocol, already rounded on for its fatal compromises, may offer too little too late to effectively forestall the worst consequences of climate change. The coming decades of the 21st century will be pivotal. Perhaps our only hope is to pass Peak Oil ASAP, although this civilization can do with a fair bit of dismantling for the damage it has done. [link]

Friday, February 04, 2005

When Robots Do the Killing

Although I've written about this subject before, recent news about the arrival of robot killing machines in Iraq passed by almost entirely unnoticed by most news media. However, the 18 machines (ominously named SWORDS) now being shipped, join their aerial predator drones (already used to kill militants in Yemen in 2002) as part of the unique characteristic of 21st century America's weapons of war.

As AP news reported, these robots will be "the first armed robotic vehicles to see combat, years ahead of the larger Future Combat System vehicles currently under development by big defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics Corp." Actually, they are still somewhat primitive as they will be remote-controlled by humans and are based on TALONS that are already in operations defusing roadside bombs and the like in Iraq. Also, as noted by another web site, the SWORDS break Asimov's Laws of Robotics, paving the way for far darker applications of these machines than he ever envisioned.

Indeed, Science Fiction is our best guide here: these SWORDS will be used for urban warfare and counterinsurgency ops (Terminator), as well as for defending installations (Robocop) in an attempt to pacify the population (I, Robot). Indeed, almost every movie on robots has warned against this phenomena, where machines don't have to turn on their human masters to demonstrate the inhumane depths with which the masters of war attempt to sanitize war as an elaborate video game. Indeed, the similarities to the events that presaged the Bulterian Jihad of Dune are much more applicable here.

Here's a commentary that appeared on Commondreams and here's an article on the Soulless Soldiers of the future.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Kids these days...

This article reminds me of a Bloom County cartoon from the 1980s where rather than anti-war student activists raging on campus, it was pro-Reagan, future yuppies shouting slogans like "Don't trust anyone under $30,000 a year", with a long haired cop commenting, "weirdo kids with their wierdo fascist politics."

[BBC: US teens 'reject' key freedoms]