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U.S. is 'not prepared to defend or compete in the A.I. era,' says expert group chaired by Eric Schmidt

#artificialintelligence

Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at the University of Sydney, told CNBC the dangers have only "become nearer and more serious" since the letter was published. "Autonomous weapons must be regulated," he said. The Future of Life Institute, a non-profit research institute in Boston, Massachusetts, said last month there are many positive military applications for AI but "delegating life and death decisions to autonomous weapon systems is not one of them." The institute pointed out that autonomous drones could be used for reconnaissance missions to avoid putting troops in danger, while AI could also be used to power defensive anti-missile guns which detect, target, and destroy incoming threats without a human command. "Neither application involves a machine selecting and attacking humans without an operator's green light," it said.


Biden limits drone strikes outside war zones, rolling back Trump policy

FOX News

General Jack Keane, Fox News senior strategic analyst, reacts to the decision on'Fox & amp; Friends.' The Biden administration has ordered temporary limits on drone strikes outside war zones, rolling back a Trump-era policy, as President Biden reviews "legal and policy frameworks governing these matters," the National Security Council told Fox News. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, in a statement to Fox News, said that at the beginning of the Biden administration the president "established new interim guidance concerning the United States' use of military force and related national security operations." "The purpose of the interim guidance is to ensure the President has full visibility on proposed significant actions into these areas while the National Security Council staff lead a thorough interagency review of the extant authorizations and delegations of Presidential authority with respect to these matters," Horne said. Horne told Fox News that Biden's review "is now underway and will include an examination of the legal and policy frameworks governing these matters."


Biden Secretly Limits Counterterrorism Drone Strikes Away From War Zones

NYT > Middle East

The Biden administration has quietly imposed temporary limits on counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefield zones like Afghanistan and Syria, and it has begun a broad review of whether to tighten Trump-era rules for such operations, according to officials. The military and the C.I.A. must now obtain White House permission to attack terrorism suspects in poorly governed places where there are scant American ground troops, like Somalia and Yemen. Under the Trump administration, they had been allowed to decide for themselves whether circumstances on the ground met certain conditions and an attack was justified. Officials characterized the tighter controls as a stopgap while the Biden administration reviewed how targeting worked -- both on paper and in practice -- under former President Donald J. Trump and developed its own policy and procedures for counterterrorism kill-or-capture operations outside war zones, including how to minimize the risk of civilian casualties. The Biden administration did not announce the new limits.


A dystopian robo-dog now patrols New York City. That's the last thing we need

#artificialintelligence

The New York police department has acquired a robotic police dog, known as Digidog, and has deployed it on the streets of Brooklyn, Queens and, most recently, the Bronx. At a time that activists in New York, and beyond, are calling for the defunding of police departments – for the sake of funding more vital services that address the root causes of crime and poverty – the NYPD's decision to pour money into a robot dog seems tone-deaf if not an outright provocation. As Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, put it on Twitter: "Shout out to everyone who fought against community advocates who demanded these resources go to investments like school counseling instead. Now robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with underresourced schools." There is more than enough evidence that law enforcement is lethally racially biased, and adding an intimidating non-human layer to it seems cruel.


US military invests in energy beam weapons to take down drones

ZDNet

The US military has invested in a prototype energy beam weapon designed to zap drones in the sky. This week, the US Air Force said the prototype, dubbed the Tactical High Power Operational Responder (THOR), is a "directed energy" weapon that could use both lasers and microwaves to take out unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drone swarms. THOR, perhaps named in deference to the Norse god of thunder, is being developed to fire at multiple targets at the same time with what the military calls "rapid results." The weapon needs to be housed in a shipping container that is 20-foot-long, but this means it can also be transported, moved via cargo plane, and could be installed at different military bases. THOR has been developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.


US Army is developing a the 'most powerful' laser in history which will vaporize targets

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The US Army is developing its most powerful laser yet that is a million times more powerful than current systems. Most laser weapons fire a continuous beam until a target melts or catches fire, but the Tactical Ultrashort Pulsed Laser (UPSL) for Army Platforms will emit short, pulse-like bursts. Its being designed to reach a terawatt for a brief 200 femtoseconds, which is one quadrillionth of a second, compared to the 150-kilowatt maximum of current systems. It's also thought such a burst would disrupt nearby electronics systems, making it a functional electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The US military group is aiming to have a working prototype by August 2022.


U.S. Aircraft Carrier Returning Home After Long Sea Tour Watching Iran

NYT > Middle East

The aircraft carrier Nimitz is finally going home. The Pentagon last month ordered the warship to remain in the Middle East because of Iranian threats against President Donald J. Trump and other American officials, just three days after announcing the ship was returning home as a signal to de-escalate rising tensions with Tehran. With those immediate tensions seeming to ease a bit, and President Biden looking to renew discussions with Iran on the 2015 nuclear accord that Mr. Trump withdrew from, three Defense Department officials said on Monday that the Nimitz and its 5,000-member crew were ordered on Sunday to return to the ship's home port of Bremerton, Wash., after a longer-than-usual 10-month deployment. The Pentagon for weeks had been engaged in a muscle-flexing strategy aimed at deterring Iran and its Shia proxies in Iraq from attacking American personnel in the Persian Gulf to avenge the death of Maj. General Suleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in an American drone strike in January 2020.


Navy wants 21 new large undersea and surface attack drones in 5 years

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. The Navy is getting into drones in a big way, with new plans to add 21 unmanned surface and underwater vessels over the next five years. The Navy just released its 30-year shipbuilding plan, which reflects a growing emphasis on the use of drones in maritime combat. Between now and 2026, the Navy aims to acquire 12 large unmanned surface vessels, one medium unmanned surface vessel and 8 extra-large unmanned underwater vessels, according to the plan.


Navy arms destroyers with new drone, aircraft and missile defenses

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Attacking enemy cruise missiles, fighter jets, helicopters and longer-range high altitude ballistic missiles all present substantial threats to Navy surface ships, especially when multiple attacks arrive simultaneously. By and large, defending against incoming ballistic missiles and air and cruise missiles requires separate defensive systems … until now. A new family of SPY-6 radar systems is being quickly expanded by the U.S. Navy to incorporate a much wider swath of the fleet.


In Abrupt Reversal of Iran Strategy, Pentagon Orders Aircraft Carrier Home

NYT > Middle East

The Pentagon has abruptly sent the aircraft carrier Nimitz home from the Middle East and Africa over the objections of top military advisers, marking a reversal of a weekslong muscle-flexing strategy aimed at deterring Iran from attacking American troops and diplomats in the Persian Gulf. Officials said on Friday that the acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, had ordered the redeployment of the ship in part as a "de-escalatory" signal to Tehran to avoid stumbling into a crisis in President Trump's waning days in office. American intelligence reports indicate that Iran and its proxies may be preparing a strike as early as this weekend to avenge the death of Maj. Senior Pentagon officials said that Mr. Miller assessed that dispatching the Nimitz now, before the first anniversary this Sunday of General Suleimani's death in an American drone strike in Iraq, could remove what Iranian hard-liners see as a provocation that justifies their threats against American military targets. Some analysts said the return of the Nimitz to its home port of Bremerton, Wash., was a welcome reduction in tensions between the two countries.