Pentagon aims for killer robots that exploit social media

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Wild Cat robot from Boston Dynamics

Official documents from the Pentagon and NATO show that they aim for the development of so-called Autonomous Weapon Systems: that is; robots which can decide themselves whether to kill. They’re collecting information from social media, including tweets, blogs and Instagram. And, they are to be used even against civilians.


English translation: Anne Merethe Erstad


Wild Cat robot from Boston Dynamics
Wild Cat robot from Boston Dynamics

«Self-aware» killing robots

For quite a while military circles in the USA have been working on the next generation of warfare and robot warfare, and they’ve kept assuring us that the robots will be controlled by human beings. But that type of system is already in use. A drone which kills in Afghanistan or Yemen and is piloted by a soldier sitting in a bunker in Nevada, is such a semi-automatic system. The next generation is something else entirely.

The rapport «Human Systems Review» from the US Department of Defense isn’t even secret. It explains, in public, that now they will aim for technologies which will create swarms of “self-aware” robots in networks that are designed to kill targets that the robots choose themselves.

The 53 pages long rapport was presented at a conference in February 2016 by John Tangney from the US Navy. The document shows that Pentagon expects that in 15 years they’ll have weapon systems in which planning, target selection as well as killing can be delegated entirely to the robots. These will, in turn, collect their information from blogs, websites and post in social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

robotkrig dok1

According to the document the robot systems shall be able to collect «hostile messages» in social media and sort them in order to select their targets. (For readers who have followed me for a while, it may be of interest noting how the Pentagon also deems it very important to “control the strategical narratives” in a situation of conflict.)

The systems have already been demonstrated to NATO

Yet another thing this document shows is that the strength of these systems were demonstrated during the offensive NATO maneuver Trident Juncture 2015. The maneuver was obviously directed at Russia and included 36.000 soldiers from 30 countries.

nato robot dok

The USA’s NATO partners weren’t quite aware how far their superiors had developed their use of social media in warfare. Thus, it was considered to be a success when this technology was demonstrated during the NATO maneuver. So far there are only people who use the information gathered from social media in their planning and executing military actions. But within a time frame of 15 years the goal is for the robots themselves to use this information in order to kill the targets they pick – themselves.

What kind of information they are looking for, appears in another Pentagon document; A Brief Overview of Activity Based Intelligence and Human Domain Analytics, where it’s stated:

…the presence, activities (including transactions – both physical and virtual), culture, social structure/organization, networks and relationships, motivation, intent, vulnerabilities, and capabilities of humans (single or groups) across all domains of the operational environment.

Google invested in robot soldiers

Considering the fact that the killer robots are going to use social media in order to choose their victims, it’s “reassuring” that Google purchased Boston Dynamics in 2013 – one of the leading companies developing killer robots. They have developed frightening robots such as BIGDOG, Cheetah as well as the humanoid PETMAN.

They also signed a contract with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and then engaged Regina Dugan, former head of DARPA, as Vice President of Engineering, Advanced Technology and Projects. However, in March 2016 Google put Boston Dynamics up for sale.

And; Regina Dugan left Google and joined Facebook, where she will lead a newly formed team called Building 8. According to Forbes this will become a ”DARPA-inspired” team to which Facebook has committed to funding to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Among the potential buyers of Boston Dynamics are the Japanese automaker Toyota and Amazon.

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