Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News

FOX News

Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., director of Defense Intelligence Agency, gives insight on recent Iranian attacks on tankers and a surveillance drone. EXCLUSIVE – Iran is likely at "an inflection point," and the recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone appear to be part of an effort to change "the status quo," the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told Fox News exclusively. "I'd say that they're probably at an inflection point right now," the director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., explained in his first national TV interview as the leader of the nearly 17-thousand strong agency. Director Ashley said, based on their activity over the last several years, the Iranians would probably say they were in a "favorable" position with their influence over the Iraqi government and the likelihood their longtime regional ally -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- will remain in power. But, Director Ashley -- whose agency's mission is to understand foreign militaries and the operational environment -- said the United States' withdrawal from the Iran deal and subsequent sanctions made a major impact on the regime.

Killing Machines – Sherborne Abbey Insight Programme


Our lecture in 2017 about Artificial Intelligence generated much interest and discussion. Amongst the issues raised was the whole question of remotely controlled or even autonomous weapons. We are delighted to welcome two retired senior officers to help us explore this further. Lt Gen Sir Robert Fry KCB RM is a former commandant of the Royal Marines and served as coalition deputy commanding General in Iraq in 2006 before retiring to head Hewlett Packard's Enterprise Services, Defence & Security UK. Air Marshal Sir Christopher Coville KCB was Deputy CinC Allied Forces Northern Europe and Air Member for Personnel before his retirement following which he served as the chairman of Augusta Westland.

China's cheaper armed drones now flying across Mideast battlefields

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – High above Yemen's rebel-held city of Hodeida, a drone controlled by Emirati forces hovered as an SUV carrying a top Shiite Houthi rebel official turned onto a small street and stopped, waiting for another vehicle in its convoy to catch up. Seconds later, the SUV exploded in flames, killing Saleh al-Samad, a top political figure. The drone that fired that missile in April was not one of the many American aircraft that have been buzzing across the skies of Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. Across the Middle East, countries locked out of purchasing U.S.-made drones due to rules over excessive civilian casualties are being wooed by Chinese arms dealers, the world's main distributor of armed drones. "The Chinese product now doesn't lack technology, it only lacks market share," said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military analyst and former lecturer at the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force University of Engineering.

BAE Systems unveils its 'Black Night' tank to upgrade the Challenger 2

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A design has been unveiled for an upgraded British Army tank with a laser warning system, automatic AI-powered targeting and'Planet Earth II style' thermal imaging. The latest design by BAE Systems is a proposed upgrade for the Challenger 2, a tank which has served in Iraq and Bosnia and which defence chiefs are planning to extend until 2035. The firm - which released a Hollywood-style trailer for the vehicle - is one of two bidders, along with German-based defence contractor Rheinmetall, who are competing for the contract to prolong the Challenger's life. The Challenger 2 has been in service since 1998 - the successor to the Challenger 1 which was used during the first Gulf War - and served during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The'Black Night' vehicle would have two independent night vision systems allowing a gunner to focus on one target while a commander identifies others simultaneously The Challenger 2 has been in service since 1998 and defence chiefs are intending to keep it going until 2035.

The Marines want to use artificial intelligence to counter one of their enemies' most effective and hard-to-detect weapons


After nearly two decades of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Marine Corps is looking to reorient toward its specialty, amphibious operations, while preparing for the next fight against what is likely to a more capable foe. Peer and near-peer adversaries are deploying increasingly sophisticated weaponry that the Corps believes will make amphibious landings a much more challenging proposition in the future. The Corps is looking for high-tech weapons to counter those looming threats, but it's also looking for a sophisticated system to counter a persistent, low-tech, but decidedly dangerous weapon -- mines hidden close to shore. According to a recent post on the US government's Federal Business Opportunities website, first spotted by Marine Corps Times, the Marine Corps Rapid Capability Office is looking to autonomous and artificial-intelligence technology to "increase Marines' ability to detect, analyze, and neutralize Explosive Ordnance (EO) in shallow water and the surf zone" -- two areas where amphibious ships and landing craft would spend much of their time. "Initial market research has determined multiple technically mature solutions exist that can assist Marines ability to achieve this capability," the notice says.

How Yazidi refugees are using drones and helium balloons to collect evidence of genocide

The Independent - Tech

The British installation at the London Design Biennale is an international project that demonstrates how victims of human rights violations around the world can gather proof of their own experiences. Plastic bottles, digital cameras and kites, just some of the low-cost items in the exhibition, are being used in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq to gather the remaining evidence of Isis's 2014 treatment of the Yazidi ethnic minority, treatment that survivors and their supporters have called genocide and hope to prosecute in the international courts. Not only do they say thousands were killed by the terrorist group and thousands more displaced, but Yazidi cultural and religious heritage sites were destroyed and their temples were used as mass graves. Four years later, the region is still dangerous, littered with landmines and booby-traps left by the militants as they retreated. So when Yazda, a global rights organisation established by the Yazidi diaspora, sought help in supplementing their documentation efforts from Forensic Architecture, an independent research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, its team of architects, photographers, software developers, lawyers and archaeologists adapted their investigative methods to provide ways for Yazidis to gather video and data without entering the most hazardous areas.

Why AI researchers shouldn't turn their backs on the military


More than 2,400 AI researchers recently signed a pledge promising not to build so-called autonomous weapons--systems that would decide on their own whom to kill. This follows Google's decision not to renew a contract to supply the Pentagon with AI for analysis of drone footage after the company came under pressure from many employees opposed to its work on a project known as Maven. Paul Scharre, the author of a new book, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War, believes that AI researchers need to do more than opt out if they want to bring about change. An Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, Scharre argues that AI experts should engage with policymakers and military professionals to explain why researchers are concerned and help them understand the limitations of AI systems. Scharre spoke with MITTechnology Review senior editor Will Knight about the best way to halt a potentially dangerous AI arms race.

The ex-army man taking on the big data dark arts


"How on earth did I end up running an AI company?" Robert Bassett Cross asks himself as he sits down over coffee. For the former army officer and special operations expert, it's been an unlikely journey. He spent years fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan before launching what could be the UK's next bet in big data and artificial intelligence. Unsurprisingly, Bassett Cross does not come across as your typical tech chief executive.

Experts Say Drones Pose a National Security Threat -- and We Aren't Ready

TIME - Tech

Last fourth of July, as fireworks burst across the night sky near the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, S.C., convicted kidnapper Jimmy Causey tucked a lifelike dummy into his bed, sneaked out of his prison cell and completed a daring escape. It wasn't until three days later, when Texas Rangers found Causey holed up 1,200 miles away, that authorities offered an explanation for how he had obtained the equipment for the breakout, including a pair of wire cutters used to snip through four fences that encircle the maximum security prison. "We believe a drone was used to fly in the tools that allowed him to escape," Bryan Stirling, director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, told reporters at a news conference. A lengthy investigation confirmed that an accessory role was played by a small, off-the-shelf drone. And with that, law-enforcement and national security officials added "prison breaks" to the potential ill uses lurking in a technology widely available at retailers including Amazon and Walmart.

Architect designs reconstruction model for Mosul

Daily Mail - Science & tech

An architect hoping to rebuild war-torn Mosul, Iraq, has proposed a series of stunning 3D-printed bridges that would transform city using its own building debris into construction materials. Architect Vincent Callebaut is the brainchild behind'The 5 Farming Bridges', which features 3D-printed housing units in the form of articulated spiders over the Tigris River. Five 3D printers could construct 30 houses per day, or nearly 55,000 housing units in five years spread over the five bridges. The concept was a winning project of the Rifat Chadirji Prize Competition, 'Rebuilding Iraq's Liberated Areas: Mosul's Housing'. Architect Vincent Callebaut is the brainchild behind'The 5 Farming Bridges', which features 3D-printed housing units in the form of articulated spiders over the Tigris River in Mosul, Iraq The concept was a winning project of the Rifat Chadirji Prize Competition, 'Rebuilding Iraq's Liberated Areas: Mosul's Housing' Mosul, Iraq's second city, was retaken from IS in July after a massive months-long offensive that left the majority of the city destroyed and hundreds of thousands left without a place to live.