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Archive for November, 2017

Mourning the lost Ka’aba

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

.

As sea levels rise, so also..

*

I am truly sorry to say this, but as
the globe warms, so warms the cube..

A heatwave emanating from a black stone
sweeps the desert:
will hit and kill pilgrims, is
already hitting and killing handfulls
among the millions of pilgrims
as they approach the stone,
but there will be –
I am truly sorry to say this,
may God forfend it —
there will be disasters at the stone,
hundreds, thousands dead of sheer heat exhaustion,
and the government will order
stricter controls on pilgrims,
that they be in best health,
physician verified,
that they carry much water
against dehydration,
wishing the sun itself were other
than it is, under the mercy,
where no legislation can forestall it,
attempting traffic control
against a myridad photons, light
in the niche for lights.

Pilgrimage is compulsory, thus
after the city has been shut down,
the last strays and hiders
pried from their places by special police,
some few from around the gasping
globe still will strive
with devotion
to make their way toward Mecca
and the cube on the globe,
the black stone,
some, after the last police have withdrawn,
still arriving, circling the stone,
holding tight to the thought that Ali
was born within the cube,
athirst with devotion, with dehydration
ablaze, pressing in to die
where Ali was born,
and one, one shall be the last to die there.

I grieve for that last, now,
some few decades ahead of the obvious,
to which we are oblivious —
the oncoming, blasphemous, wave.

Armed Robotic Systems A.K.A. “Killer Robots” [sic]

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

[Mark Safranski/ “zen”]

Dr. Robert Bunker emailed to alert me that the Strategic Studies Institute has released his monograph Armed Robotic Systems Emergence: Weapons Systems Life Cycles Analysis and New Strategic Realities. From the synopsis:

Armed robotic systems—drones and droids—now emerging on the battlefield portend new strategic realities not only for U.S. forces but also for our allies and future potential belligerents. Numerous questions of immediate warfighting importance come to mind with the fielding of these drones and droids that are viewed as still being in their experimental and entrepreneurial stage of development. By drawing upon historical weapons systems life cycles case studies, focusing on the early 9th through the mid-16th-century knight, the mid-19th through the later 20th-century battleship, and the early 20th through the early 21st-century tank, the monograph provides military historical context related to their emergence, and better allows both for questions related to warfighting to be addressed, and policy recommendations related to them to be initially provided.

Bunker correctly explains the degree to which this topic has already been overhyped and that Ai that could operate even at the level of “a trained animal” is at best a prospect for the near term future. To use an aerial analogy, autonomous combat droids today are not in the era of the fragile WWI biplane but really something closer to Orville and Wilbur Wright’s bicycle shop before Kitty Hawk. Bunker’s use of a historical, evolutionary framework for armed robotics is apt.

Nevertheless, the subject continues to captivate the media and our think tanks. Here for purposes of comparison was the 2014 CNAS report Prepare for Robotic Warfare by Robert Work, later Deputy Secretary of Defense under Presidents Obama and Trump, and CNAS VP Shawn Brimley. There are other similar studies to be found online. Driving this is the logical inevitability (which tech is far from catching up to) that robotic warfare systems, if done to economies of scale, would be effective force multipliers, especially for smaller powers or deep-pocketed private entities and insurgent groups.

Someday.


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