Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Even the US Navy is getting into drones:
Which isn’t alarming, really — it’s comforting, I think, more than the flying-around variety. From Vice News:
On Sunday, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced the addition of “drone gunboats” to the US military’s growing family of militarized robots. Developed using existing NASA technology, the robo-boats could be deployed within the year to protect bigger ships or to swarm an enemy with kamikaze-like coordinated attacks.
The program was partly prompted by the 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole by al Qaeda. In the attack, suicide bombers drove a boat laden with explosives into the hull of the guided-missile destroyer as it refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden, killing 17 US sailors.
Robert Brizzarola, head of the drone boat program, told reporters Sunday that robot technology will allow US Navy personnel to more rapidly respond to dangerous situations with reduced risk to human lives.
“It will remove our sailors and marines from many dangerous situations — for instance when they need to approach hostile or suspicious vessels,” Brizzarola said.
Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, Chief of Naval Research, added, “If Cole had been supported by autonomous unmanned surface vessels, they could have stopped that attack.”
What it suggests, though, is a two-tiered approach to modern warfare. Tier one is the drone/robot force, doing dangerous but easily automated work. Tier two is the “smart force,” doing (even more) dangerous but impossible to automate work, like training local armies, counterinsurgency, urban warfare, that sort of thing.
It also suggests a terrible calculus. The things we have a lot of — money, technology, etc. — we don’t mind spending. Our enemies are short of money and technology, but have people aplenty, so they they’re equally wonton with them. The near future might really look like something out of a sci-fi picture, with our robots killing their human soldiers.
I don’t see a way around that, of course. But it will be disquieting, won’t it?