Sunday, January 16, 2011

America Knows Robot Warriors Will Destroy America

I've set up a new blog for my apocalyptic futurism, but I'm having some DNS issues, so I'll get into it here as well. (Given the shock value in the title, you might want to check the original post.)

These guns were found recently in rural Georgia:

"Three shotguns were set up on a platform and linked to a Web-accessible camera system that allows the guns to be fired via an Internet connection."

The owner of the land set them up to shoot feral hogs which were eating food he was growing.

A utility contractor encountered the setup, snapped a few photos and reported the odd apparatus to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, which in turn notified the U.S. Office of Homeland Security...

Several business ventures explored the idea of cyber hunting in recent years, but the practice has been banned in at least 25 states, the bulletin said, adding that officers should be aware of the existence of such devices...

Any reasonable farmer in the state of Georgia will tell you that what happens on his property is his business, and has been since the first colonist landed on these shores. Any reasonable hacker will tell you that modifying hardware you own has been 100% legal since the first day somebody sold something, and is in fact implicit in the concept of ownership, trade, and property in the first place. So you might expect libertarian outrage at the Department of Homeland Security investigating a guy for shooting wild pigs. (And wild pigs are a serious thing in the South.)

However, while I think it's indisputable that, like many Bush Administration legacies, the Department of Homeland Security represents a dangerous slide towards fascism, I actually can't blame anybody in law enforcement for keeping an eye on this kind of thing. In the short-term, reporting this to the DHS was a paranoid over-reaction, but in the long term, it might be entirely appropriate. As I said in the original post, cheap, commodified weaponry which users can control anonymously and at a significant distance changes EVERYTHING about armed conflict. It's unprecedented and in a few decades it will transform politics on multiple scales and at multiple levels.

In the same way that computers have gradually taken over nearly every business, robots will gradually take over every army; and in the same way that the ludicrous visions of giant computronic brains gave way to the reality of everybody carrying a tiny computer in their pocket and calling it a phone, the Hollywood and anime visions of massive, giant robots will give away to miniaturization, commoditization, and the obvious tactical and logistical superiority of tiny, cheap robots to giant, expensive ones.

Consider a spectrum of assholes. At one end you have Sarah Palin, who talks about guns as a tool of politics because she's confident in the assumption that nobody takes her seriously or literally - in other words, because, like most politicians, she's a calculating, insincere asshole. At the other end, you have the terrorist Jared Lee Loughner, who used guns as a tool of political change because, like most terrorists, he's an insane, violent asshole. What might you find in the middle if you had an asshole who was violent but not insane, and calculating but not insincere? You would have on your hands the type of asshole who you would NEVER want anywhere near computer-controlled weapons.

The cheaper and more technologically trivial that computer-controlled weapons become to make, the higher the probability of finding such weapons in the hands and under the control of assholes matching this description. And these things are getting cheap, and technologically trivial, at a very rapid pace. That's why I'm creating my new blog, named Robot Warriors Will Destroy America (just like the original post). I'm hoping to amass interesting research on the blog, expand my argument, figure out possible solutions, and turn it into a book and/or a documentary. I'll post more about that once the DNS sorts itself out.