• How Artificial Intelligence Could Make Nuclear War More Likely

    If you are a millennial, computers have been trying to get you killed since the days you were born. On 26 September 1983, the satellites and computers of the Soviet Air Defense Forces, tasked with using data to determine if the United States was launching a nuclear attack, told the humans in charge exactly that was happening—five U.S. ballistic missiles were incoming and the time for the USSR to prepare to launch a retaliatory attack was now. The reason why you are alive today to read this item is that the human involved, then-Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, believed that the computer was wrong. Over the next year, the Pentagon will spend $1 billion to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will “compete, deter and, if necessary, fight and win the wars of the future“—including, presumably, an apocalyptic scenario of the kind Petrov, a human, averted. Among the jobs that could be outsourced to decision-making computers are the jobs of modern-day Petrovs and other humans tasked with deciding if it’s time to end humanity with a nuclear strike.

  • OK, but Seriously, What Really Goes on Inside Area 51?

    So apparently a bunch of people showed up in the Nevada desert this weekend to follow through on their Facebook pledge to storm Area 51 and “see them aliens.” And it wasn’t nearly as exciting as some had hoped. OK, but really. What goes on at Area 51? Area 51 is a classified US Air Force facility in the Nevada Test and Training Range, a massive government facility outside Las Vegas. It was originally used by the CIA as a site to develop and test the U-2 reconnaissance plane, which was meant to spy on the Soviet Union. Perhaps the most widely known conspiracy theory was that Area 51 housed an alien spacecraft that allegedly crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, along with the bodies of the pilots. The supposed UFO was actually smashed parts of balloons, sensors and radar reflectors from the wreckage of a classified government project meant to “determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons research,” according to a 1994 Air Force report.

  • Inside a Deadly American Summer

    They were octogenarians shopping at a Texas Walmart. They were family members watching TV in California. They were late-night revelers standing on a crowded Ohio sidewalk. They were casualties of a violent summer. Mitch Smith writes in the New York Times that during the unofficial summer season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, America endured 26 mass shootings in 18 states. One massacre followed the next, sometimes on the very same day. In sudden bursts of misery, they played out in big cities, along rural roads, inside trim suburbs. They left behind shaken neighborhoods, tearful memorials and calls for change, but little concrete action. “And the summer ended much as it had begun, with a new round of panicky 911 calls, another set of wrenching vigils, a new wave of pleas for change,” Mitch Smith writes.

  • Will Artificial Intelligence Imperil Nuclear Deterrence?

    Nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence are two technologies that have scared the living daylights out of people for a long time. These fears have been most vividly expressed through imaginative novels, films, and television shows. while strategists have generally offered more sober explorations of the future relationship between AI and nuclear weapons, some of the most widely received musings on the issue, including a recent call for an AI-enabled “dead hand” to update America’s aging nuclear command, control, and communications infrastructure, tend to obscure more than they illuminate due to an insufficient understanding of the technologies involved.

  • U.S. Military Still Buying Chinese-Made Drones Despite Spying Concerns

    The Air Force and the Navy bought Chinese-manufactured drones for elite forces months after the Pentagon prohibited their use due to cybersecurity concerns, according to government documents. In each case, the services used special exemptions granted by the Pentagon’s acquisition and sustainment office “on a case by case basis, to support urgent needs,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

  • The Real Robot Threat

    For decades, science fiction has speculated on the theme of robot servants rising up to overwhelm their human masters. Such scenarios remain fantasy, because they require self-reproducing machines with a will to power and the ability and desire to cooperate with each other to carry off a grand collective design. Instead what we have seen are drone weapons, most typically aircraft, under human command. The problem, however, occurs with proposals to eliminate human operators and allow such systems to control themselves using artificial intelligence. The problem “is that it would allow whole armies, obedient without the limiting constraint of human thought, to be commanded directly by tyrannical elites,” Robert Zubrin writers.

  • If U.S. Claims of How the Saudi Oil Attack Went Down Are True, Then the Failure to Prevent It Is a Huge Embarrassment

    It has yet to be definitively established how the massively disruptive attacks this past weekend on a crucial Saudi oil facility took place. The version of events being advanced by U.S. officials, however — that most of the damage was from cruise missiles launched from Iran — raises the embarrassing question of why the U.S. military was unable to do anything about it. the airspace around Iran and Saudi Arabia is some of the best-defended and most intensively monitored on earth, thanks to the decades-long buildup of U.S. assets there. But on Saturday those defenses failed to prevent what U.S. officials have said were at least 17 separate strikes. Based on information made public about the strikes, defense insiders were left wondering how the U.S. military had fared so poorly in one of its primary missions in the region.

  • The Secret History of Fort Detrick, the CIA’s Base for Mind Control Experiments

    Suburban sprawl has engulfed Fort Detrick, an Army base 50 miles from Washington in the Maryland town of Frederick. seventy-six years ago, however, when the Army selected Detrick as the place to develop its super-secret plans to wage germ warfare, the area around the base looked much different. In fact, it was chosen for its isolation. For decades, much of what went on at the base was a closely held secret. Directors of the CIA mind control program MK-ULTRA, which used Detrick as a key base, destroyed most of their records in 1973. Some of its secrets have been revealed in declassified documents, through interviews and as a result of congressional investigations. Together, those sources reveal Detrick’s central role in MK-ULTRA and in the manufacture of poisons intended to kill foreign leaders.

  • Will Israel Go to War Over Hezbollah's Precision-Guided Missiles?

    In the last three years, Israel has engaged in a broad campaign to eliminate Iran’s strategic footprint in the Levant, which has grown exponentially over the past half-decade as a result of the Islamic Republic’s campaign in support of the Syrian regime. Iran’s effort has allowed it to establish an expeditionary presence along Israel’s northern border—one that, over the past few years, has prompted a significant Israeli military response.

  • Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Every Aspect of War

    In an effort to stop the North Vietnamese from sending troops and supplies into South Vietnam, the United States dropped tens of thousands of sensors into the dense jungles of Vietnam, but these sensors did not prove effective in tracking the movement of the North Vietnamese. The idea of collecting data from sensors, processing them with algorithms fueled by ever-more processing power and acting on the output more quickly than the enemy lies at the heart of military thinking across the world’s biggest powers. And today that is being supercharged by new developments in artificial intelligence (AI).

  • North Korea Missile Tests, “Very Standard” to Trump, Show Signs of Advancing Arsenal

    As North Korea fired off a series of missiles in recent months — at least 18 since May — President Trump has repeatedly dismissed their importance as short-range and “very standard” tests. And although he has conceded “there may be a United Nations violation,” the president says any concerns are overblown. Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, Mr. Trump explained recently, just “likes testing missiles.” American intelligence officials and outside experts have come to a far different conclusion: that the launchings downplayed by Mr. Trump, including two late last month, have allowed Mr. Kim to test missiles with greater range and maneuverability that could overwhelm American defenses in the region.

  • Coming Soon to a Battlefield: Robots That Can Kill

    A Marine Corps program called Sea Mob aims to develop cutting-edge technology which would allow vessels to undertake lethal assaults without a direct human hand at the helm. A handful of such systems have been deployed for decades, though only in limited, defensive roles, such as shooting down missiles hurtling toward ships. But with the development of AI-infused systems, the military is now on the verge of fielding machines capable of going on the offensive, picking out targets and taking lethal action without direct human input.

  • Device Vanishes on Command after Military Missions

    A polymer that self-destructs? While once a fictional idea, new polymers now exist that are rugged enough to ferry packages or sensors into hostile territory and vaporize immediately upon a military mission’s completion. This “James Bond”-like material is already being incorporated in military devices, but there is a potential for the materials in non-military applications.

  • A Cyberattack Could Wreak Destruction Comparable to a Nuclear Weapon

    People around the world may be worried about nuclear tensions rising, but I think they’re missing the fact that a major cyberattack could be just as damaging – and hackers are already laying the groundwork. The threat of a new nuclear arms race is serious – but the threat of a cyberattack could be as serious, and is less visible to the public. So far, most of the well-known hacking incidents, even those with foreign government backing, have done little more than steal data. Unfortunately, there are signs that hackers have placed malicious software inside U.S. power and water systems, where it’s lying in wait, ready to be triggered.

  • America Should View China as a Hostile, Revolutionary Power

    Like cholesterol, great powers can be good, in that they accept the present international order, or bad, in that they do not. China does not, and seeks to overturn the contemporary order the West created.  This is the source of what is already the great conflict of 21st century. China is not a status quo great power. But as important as these developments are, there is a greater concern. This is the intellectual framework that China is creating under the guise of ‘a community with a shared future for mankind,’ most recently expressed in the July 2019 defense white paper. This shared future is certain to be dystopian. Any community that the CCP creates will be totalitarian and oppressive by its nature. Any shared future that it seeks to create will be one in which the rest of the world adapts to serve the interests of Beijing.