Closing Thought—06Mar17

AI Goes To War!

I am an old fart and as such I am by NO means  techno geek…Hell I still type with three fingers (LOL)…..I got my degree in international relations-Middle East and Conflict Management and since my days in the US Army and my two tours in Vietnam I have been an analyst of war and conflict…..

So when I read this piece about AI and warfare I was interested……honestly, I wish I was more tech savvy…but that boat has sailed for me, LOL

This is the summary of the paper……

  • Both military and commercial robots will in the future incorporate ‘artificial intelligence’ (AI) that could make them capable of undertaking tasks and missions on their own. In the military context, this gives rise to a debate as to whether such robots should be allowed to execute such missions, especially if there is a possibility that any human life could be at stake.
  • To better understand the issues at stake, this paper presents a framework explaining the current state of the art for AI, the strengths and weaknesses of the technology, and what the future likely holds. The framework demonstrates that while computers and AI can be superior to humans in some skill- and rule-based tasks, under situations that require judgment and knowledge, in the presence of significant uncertainty, humans are superior to computers.
  • In the complex discussion of if and how the development of autonomous weapons should be controlled, the rapidly expanding commercial market for both air and ground autonomous systems must be given full consideration. Banning an autonomous technology for military use may not be practical given that derivative or superior technologies could well be available in the commercial sector.
  • A metaphorical arms race is in progress in the commercial sphere of autonomous systems development, and this shift in R&D effort and expenditure from military to commercial settings is problematic. Military autonomous systems development has been slow and incremental at best, and pales in comparison with the advances made in commercial autonomous systems such as drones, and especially in driverless cars.
  • In a hotly competitive market for highly skilled roboticists and related engineers across the sectors most interested in AI, aerospace and defence, where funding is far outmatched by that of the commercial automotive or information and communication sectors, is less appealing to the most able personnel. As a result, the global defence industry is falling behind its commercial counterparts in terms of technology innovation, with the gap only widening as the best and brightest engineers move to the commercial sphere.

Source: 250117 AI weapons final for web – 2017-01-26-artificial-intelligence-future-warfare-cummings.pdf

Is this the future coming to call?

That brings my Monday to a close….have an evening my friends and I will see ya tomorrow…..peace out  chuq

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Could National Security Be At Risk?

I have been teaching a course on terrorism and national security and all my research shows me that there is a minor problem brewing at this time….but without a handle on it it could become a major gap in our national security safety net.

I know there are some out there that are bad mouthing the intel people some even think they are in the middle of a subtle coup….on this I cannot agree.  These analysts are professionals and do not inject politics into their analyses (contrary to popular belief)…..lots of talk about “alternate facts” those are facts that does not massage the genitals of Trump so the threat is not real….a dangerous mindset.

I have been reading some analysis about the situation with the world and the White House……

Intelligence experts are warning that Pres. Donald Trump and his administration’s refusal to acknowledge truths that don’t align with their worldview could have serious geopolitical consequences — a situation that is made even more complicated by the “fundamental ignorance and inexperience of Trump’s inner circle.”

The Intercept spoke with current and former intelligence officials who said that the Trump administration’s habit of disregarding information that doesn’t match up with its ideology and political agenda are deeply reminiscent of the politicization of intelligence that led to the invasion of Iraq under Pres. George W. Bush.

Source: Intelligence Experts: Trump’s Adherence to ‘Alternative Facts’ Could Spark Another Iraq—or Worse | Alternet

I know that there will be push back from his worshipers….but his immature temper tantrums is not the way to handle a crisis in the making……taking to Twitter to insult someone gives me NO confidence in his ability to digest intel and make the right decision.

The Walls Have Ears

I begin my day at 0100 hours…..I read and post as I finish my research.  Most days I have two posts waiting for the earlier ones I post and then I set about getting my stuff together for the rest of the day.

And this is what happens when I take the weekend off…..

Today is Monday and the big news is this wiretapping accusation by the man in the White House….our fearless leader is a paranoid tool….and what better way to try and change the conversation fro his and his boyz involvement with the Russians and than a new scandal in the making.

Before I start let me say that I do not say this NEVER happened but I am a bit suspicious at the timing of this revelation.

President Trump started his Saturday with a series of extraordinary allegations against his predecessor. In a series of early-morning tweets, Trump accused Barack Obama of having his “wires tapped” in Trump Tower during the election campaign, the Guardian reports. “Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump tweeted. In follow-up tweets, he claimed a court order had rejected the alleged surveillance, wondered if it was “legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election” and said: “How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” Trump said in yet another tweet. He didn’t provide any evidence or make it clear what report he was basing the accusations on, though the Hill notes that Breitbart reported Friday on radio host Mark Levin’s claim that the Obama administration used “police state” tactics to undermine Trump.

Of course the Obama team has denied all such allegations…….

A spokesperson for Barack Obama says President Trump’s accusations about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower are “simply false,” NBC News reports. “Neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any US citizen,” Kevin Lewis says. The Obama camp wasn’t the only one denying the veracity of Trump’s claim, which came in a flurry of tweets Saturday morning and was presented without evidence. A senior US official says Trump didn’t speak to anyone in the government who would have knowledge of a wiretap. And a former deputy national security adviser says presidents don’t have the power to order wiretaps on citizens.

Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump’s tweets by calling him the “deflector-in-chief” and demanding an independent investigation into his alleged Russia connections, USA Today reports. According to CBS News, Howard Dean pointed out that if Trump Tower was actually wiretapped, it means a judge found probable cause of Trump being involved in something criminal. And Paul Ryan says he doesn’t believe the Obama administration was conducting surveillance on Trump. But Lindsey Graham said he was concerned about the accusations and promised “to get to the bottom of this” during a town hall meeting Saturday. In recent days, right-wing media has started accusing Obama of leading a “silent coup” to take down Trump.

This is starting to smell like a “Fire” moment that I have been waiting for…..the alt-Right has embraced this so-called incident with both hands….I expect to see the blogosphere blow up with these accusations.

But what promoted this outrage and accusations from the Prez?

So where did President Trump’s bombshell accusation that his predecessor tapped his phones come from? The White House tells the Fact Checker blog at the Washington Post that he’s relying on reports “from BBC, Heat Street, New York Times, Fox News, among others.” After an analysis, the Post finds that the two most important ones are from the right-leaning Heat Street and the BBC. (Other reports have cited an article at Breitbart News, but it relies on the Heat Street piece.) The two articles say that US intelligence officials went to the FISA court (which deals with intelligence matters) because they wanted to investigate possible activity between two banks in Russia and a computer server in Trump Tower (which, to make matters more confusing, might actually be located in Philadelphia). Excerpts:

  • Heat Street: “Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.”
  • BBC: It says Justice Department lawyers went to the FISA court. “Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day.”

Obama’s DNI has called this a falsehood (I would expect him to do so…so this is nothing new)……you would think that the leak atmosphere in DC these days it would a simple thing to find the FISA warrant, right?

The Fact Checker’s assessment? Even if the stories are accurate, and that hasn’t been confirmed, they do not say that President Obama was behind the request. Plus, they involve a computer server, not the tapping of phone lines. And, finally, they “do not back up the administration’s revised claim of politically motivated investigations.” As a result, Trump gets the blog’s worst rating of Four Pinocchios.

The man who was the director of national intelligence until January 20 wasted little time in shooting down President Trump’s claim that former President Obama’s administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, reports the AP. “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, as a candidate or against his campaign,” James Clapper told Meet the Press on Sunday, shortly after the White House demanded a congressional investigation into the issue. Clapper says he would have been aware of a “FISA court order on something like this. Absolutely, I can deny it.”

Now fearless leader is calling on Congress to get involved…..something they are good at…wasting time and money on investigations…..

The White House demanded on Sunday that Congress investigate whether former President Obama abused his executive powers in connection with the 2016 presidential election, reports the AP. President Trump leveled that claim Saturday when he accused his predecessor of tapping telephones at Trump Tower. But Trump offered no supporting evidence, a spokesman for Obama denied the claim as “simply false,” and lawmakers in both parties asked for proof. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement Sunday that reports “concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.”

“President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016,” Spicer said. It was unclear what reports Spicer was referring to, and what prompted Trump to make the allegation. Spicer ended the statement by saying that neither the White House nor Trump will comment further “until such oversight is conducted.” In a series of morning tweets Saturday, Trump suggested Obama was behind a politically motivated plot to upend his campaign. He compared the alleged events to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism!” And he called Obama a “Bad (or sick) guy.”

Is that really a good idea, Mr. President?

This could backfire on him.

Like I have said….stranger things have happened….but this sounds like an attempt to change the tone of the news…a diversion from all the Russian noise these days.

Instead of blaming Obama maybe Trump should look to his VP….whose side is he really on?

See what happens when I step away from the keyboard?  Sorry but Pence has a look about him….I would not trust him one inch…just saying…..

News Update:  FBI Director James Comey has waded into the controversy surrounding President Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama last fall, the New York Times reports. Officials say Comey has asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Trump’s explosive claim, both because he believes it is false and because he believes it suggests the FBI was engaged in illegal behavior. The Times‘ sources say senior FBI officials are also worried that if the public believes there was a court-approved Trump wiretap, they might expect them to find solid evidence of Russian interference in last year’s election.

You just cannot make this stuff up…..this is looking more and more like reality TV…..what can we expect from a star of that genre?

How About A War To End War?

Been there…Done that….and the T-shirts are on sale at Cafe Press……

During Trump’s first speech to the joint session of Congress he made a statement that made me think of something that I could use as a historical perspective (I know how much some of you dread these times)……(damn I love history)…..you would think that a war that claimed 20 million lives would be more important than it is these days.

During his speech he, Trump, made a remark about our defense and/or our military….

In his first address to Congress tonight, President Trump delivered a heavily ‘America first’ speech that was light on details, and on the question of war was even lighter still, saying the US needs to prepare its military to “prevent war” with its largest budget ever.

Trump promised a “direct, robust, and meaningful engagement with the world,” saying that the US foreign policy would be based on America’s own “vital security interests,”

All that rhetoric made me think of something that happened 100 years ago…..the War to end all wars”….World War One.

This April 4th will be 100 years since the U.S. Senate voted to declare war on Germany and 50 since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the war on Vietnam (49 since he was killed on that speech’s first anniversary). Events are being planned to help us try to finally learn some lessons, to move beyond, not just Vietnam, but war.

That declaration of war on Germany was not for the war that makes up the single most common theme of U.S. entertainment and history. It was for the war that came before that one. This was the Great War, the war to end all wars, the war without which the conditions for the next war would not have existed.

Source: 100 years of using war to try to end all war – time to try something else?

This whole chain of thought is just demented.  Going to war to prevent war…is like screwing to preserve virginity.

As long as this type of thinking is acceptable then war will be the only option until sanity returns to the thought processes.

Strategy Lessons for a New Secretary of Defense

We have a brand new SecDef, less than a month in place, and there is worries that he is a bit too military for an accuracy needed in the position.  Others think that he will be a yes man to his boss….he will design policy to fit rhetoric.

Personally, I think that he might be a good choice…..but as usual the government went to the M-IC for the new leader……that would make him a neo-liberal in his world vision and that is disastrous for the military and the people it serves.

The RAND Corp has written some suggestion for the new guy in the Pentagon….while I am not a neo-liberal by any stretch these are good suggestions and could improve the new SecDef position……

Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump promised “a great rebuilding” of the United States military. This tall order will fall predominantly on his new Secretary of Defense, retired Marine General James Mattis. Over the next several months, Mattis will need to begin laying the intellectual groundwork to accomplish this objective. His team will craft a new Defense Strategic Review (formerly known as the Quadrennial Defense Review) and unveil a host of other issue and service-specific documents. If history is any precedent, most of these documents will be flashes in the pan, discussed by Washington policy wonks for a month or two before fading into relative obscurity. Yet, history also suggests that some strategy documents can have a more lasting impact and that the difference is often the result of how the strategies were developed as much as what they say. And so, setting aside the question of what policies the new administration’s strategy documents should contain, there is a question of how to structure the strategy-making process to maximize their impact.

Source: Five Simple Strategy Lessons for a New Secretary of Defense | RealClearDefense

I realize that generals can be hard-headed but in this case he should take the advice and work for a better world…..not just ways to destroy parts of it……