Robotic Warfare: What will it actually do?
So, drones, autonomous weapon platforms, smart bombs, AI controlled targeting algorithms, FOF identification systems, all manner of things, some more real at present than others. But what does it actually mean? Is it merely a more efficient and more proximal approach to putting your finger on the trigger? Is it merely a streamlined method in which one person may do the work of ten, should the devil call upon them?
Not quite. It’s worse than that.
We all know about the usual lament of drones, some New York Times profile piece on a drone pilot talking about how “It’s like a video game.”
This is nothing profound, read Zen At War by Brian Victoria. Been there, done that. Soldiers separating themselves from atrocities is in fact quite normal. Same with BF Skinner and his conditionalised responses. This is why modern soldiers have such high suicide rates. It’s not the bullet that kills you, but the order. Because you can only separate yourself for so long, before the illusion wears off.
This is because conditionalised responses is a reflexive behaviour, the consciousness has to play catch up, and when it does, a lot of people don’t like what they’ve become. They cannot reconcile themselves.
There is currently something very disturbing happening in Europe. With climate change and decades long military industrial wars in the south, we see many refugees desperately moving to safe grounds. The European approach is to obey their compadores who represent America, and turn crisis into opportunity.
Borders that should serve as protective walls, that should be seen as a finishing line in a race with death, that should offer refugees respite and relief. That should give us Europeans an opportunity to exercise honour and good decency to our fellow man, have instead grown into a festering wound, where the shadows of an all too familiar past darken its exposed flesh.
As these borders have been designated the grounds of human experimentation. All manner of autonomous weapons systems are being trained and tested on live targets. Today they do not kill their targets, they are only learning how to find them and take aim. How to read faces, emotions, intent, how to identify suspected enemies of the state and even to some extent attempt to read their thoughts and motives.
Like a fledgling predator, who has yet to grown its fangs, observing for the first time its prey in the wild. What comes next is a natural as any Darwinian suffering, the unforgiving and rueful state of things that all sapient beings have desperately attempted to flee throughout our history.
We are all refugees in the end. Our houses, our wealth, our warmth, our industry, our community, our furnishings and our families, it is all a big and elaborate effort to escape from the cold and unforgiving hunger that stalks us in the wild. Somewhere along the line we forgot precisely what we’re fleeing from, and got it in our minds to stop looking over our shoulders.
The way we set up borders in Europe is frankly embarrassing. These are the lands of Ottomen, Knights Templars, Roman Legions, SAS Commandos and Red Army Snipers. Lands of war, death, misery, crime, justice, valour and tyranny. Lands of people who would fight, who’d die bravely, even for foolish ideas. Now look at the state of things, we hide away from the world like mice.
Monarchism was a cruel and miserable thing, but even kings had to rely virtue. Kings had to be brave, and generous, and just. We used to believe in those things, and it was the reason we didn’t hang the king in the town square.
Now look at us, we’ve given up virtue for the most pathetic of doctrines. “Safety”, “Sustainability”, “Economic growth.” We’d eat a worm if a politician told us it would protect us from the terrorists. As if they’re the only people in the world who can fire a gun. Hate to spoil the theatrics, but terrorists are ordinary people. In war, they are your equal. Whatever they do to you, you can pay back in kind. There’s no reason to fear terrorists.
Moreover, there’s worse things than being unsafe. As we turn our borders into wretched meatgrinders, that reduce orphans and widows and braver men into sun bleached skeletons because we’re too fragile to approach a stranger with some modicum and decency, then we’ll find ourselves entombed in a very wretched and pathetic existence. Wherein safety becomes a burden, because it would only be prudent to welcome death than to spend another day as a maggot feasting on the dead.
Too many people ascribe stupidity as the flaw of modern governments, but it’s not, it’s cowardice. We live in nations of cowards. We think we’re exempt from the world, and God’s mysterious ways. We think we’re protagonists in some kind of story. As though war, poverty, famine and death are foreign things that we have no concern of. But this bubble will inevitably burst, and the question is precisely what happens when it does.
We are not Americans, and for the last 30 years, we’ve fallen for this scheme. War will return to Europe, and it will keep returning to Europe for as long as we have enmity. For as long as we have rich and poor, foreign and native, invader and invaded, east and west. War remains in Europe.
Our only choice in the matter is precisely what we’re going to fight for this time around. We’ve fought for kings, we’ve fought for God, we’ve fought for nations, we’ve fought for empires, some of us were even stupid enough to fight for the master race. What do we fight for this time? Another meaningless ideal? Another thing that amounts to medals placed on your casket? For the borders that present us as pathetic and cruel to the rest of humanity? I should hope we could be more ambitious.
I should hope we could for once wear uniforms that instilled some sense of pride that wasn’t based on the noble lie. I’d rather we for once made it an endeavor to speak the common truth. A truth that puts fear into the faces of every gilded court, and every marble hall.
The dangerous implication of autonomous weapons is precisely what it puts our labour into. There will be no such thing as a civilian anymore, or a soldier for that matter, it will blur the lines between military and industry to such an extent that we will live in a congress of warlords. Europe will finally become a dominion of the Brunswick skull, as the face of God and Country is rendered off its bone, revealing the blasphemous war and gold underneath.
And this is the truly disturbing part. At least the tyrants of yesterday had to lie to the people. Now, as we are mired in a world of cowardly self-preservation, too many will accept war and gold at its face value. Where once we had soldiers, we will now have mercenaries.
The new atheists, men like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris are to me quite vile. At least the crusaders had a church doctrine, which instilled in them some sort of duty to love and virtue, but what’s their excuse? Without any doctrine, they still demand war for the rich, and death for the poor. How is this an improvement?
Secular imperialism produces some of the most monstrous minds, the sort of minds that only used to dwell within the closed chambers of the upper classes. Now even idiots in the street are more than happy to die for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, no promise of pearly gates needed.
Autonomous weapons require every logistic and every resource, every demand and every manufacturing. Cables, software, human resources, training, education, development, research grants, munitions, chemicals, maintenance, transportation, delivery, electrical supply, infrastructure, communications, and all manner of things that you will provide each day when you show up to work, in one form or another.
And for what? Weapons, bombs, bullets and destruction. Is that what you want to amount to? Is that to live well? To exist in such a circumstance? To see, each time you look in the mirror, a stranger? To ponder upon precisely how many people you helped kill today, and what precisely they did to have it coming?
Climate disaster alone predicts some 150 million refugees. And guess what? They don’t want this either, they want their own homes and their own countries, just like anyone else. All we have to do is to stop dispossessing them, and they’ll stay put, and do whatever it is they’d care to get up to.
And that’s fine, that’s how life is supposed to be. We are not supposed to live in societies that require a segment of the people to serve as economic cannon fodder, wasting away in miserable slums and ghettos. None of this is for our benefit, it is to the benefit of rich people and slumlords.
Unemployment means that landlords can funnel your taxes into rent money. It is a cycle of exploitation with no purpose. That’s why this contradiction exists, wherein countries open their borders, and employers close their doors. We don’t need any of it. If people want to migrate, and work, and be neighbors, then come abroad, who cares? But this constant bleeding of refugees, this system of slaughter, this shame of Europe, none of it is needed.
We are about to witness a nightmare. Within the next century, we are about to see war return to Europe. Some of the most profound barbarism since the dark years of our century prior. We will shape the outcome of this.
Either you can watch it all unfold from your kitchen table, headline by headline, or you can organise, and fight for your democracy before it’s too late.
Your enemy is not foreign, your real enemy is on the TV screen, in the investment columns on Forbes, in the monthly invoice on your rent. In the party you vote for, in the board of directors at your workplace. Those are the people who are coming to get you, and no amount of barbed wire or drones is going to protect you from what they have in store.