The prospect of human-killing robots walking among us on our streets is a very scary one, and while it was once stuck firmly in the realms of science fiction, it is now becoming a distinct possibility. It’s no wonder, then, that thousands of scientists and artificial intelligence researchers signed an open letter calling for them to be banned in July this year. Lethal autonomous weapons systems, as these killer robots are known scientifically, are being made and tested by several hi-tech nations such as US, UK, China, Russia, Israel and the Republic of Korea. They look like futuristic fighter jets, tanks, ships and submarines, and they can be sent to find targets and kill them without human supervision. But this is a bad idea. No one can guarantee that these weapons will comply with the international laws governing conflict, and there are far too many circumstances in which a machine would not be able to tell the difference between a civilian and a combatant, especially in the fog of war.
Journal of Culture and Theory
Source: Vol 16 (2015)
Originally posted on The Chrysalis:
The “Press” got its name from the application of pressure onto blank paper to leave an impression — the written word. Newsprint is like an artists’ canvas, in that respect; and a symbolic enactment of what is deemed the originary state of the mind as being “blank slate” or tabula rasa.
In broader terms, however, making impressions on paper is only the first step in the goal of attempting to apply pressure on consciousness — to impress something deemed “newsworthy” or even “sensational” upon the nerve-endings of the consumer of the press.
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The basic idea at the heart of human rights is that all human beings are equal: equal in rights – equal in human dignity. This idea is universally accepted and believed. At the same time another idea – the idea that we are separately citizens of different countries is also a feature of the modern world – and the way it is practised has led to enormous discrimination and violation of human rights. In reality people, as a matter of law, have different fundamental rights even though we believe that all human beings are equal.
There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.
We are building an information-based military to do that killing. There will still be plenty of muscle power required, but much of our military art will consist in knowing more about the enemy than he knows about himself, manipulating data for effectiveness and efficiency, and denying similar advantages to our opponents. This will involve a good bit of technology, but the relevant systems will not be the budget vampires, such as manned bombers and attack submarines, that we continue to buy through inertia, emotional attachment, and the lobbying power of the defense industry. Our most important technologies will be those that support soldiers and Marines on the ground, that facilitate command decisions, and that enable us to kill accurately and survive amid clutter (such as multidimensional urban battlefields).
Source: Constant Conflict
We need more comprehensive, ‘joined-up’ ways to feed, cloth, shelter, assemble, and communicate. This amounts to a paradigm change, which requires radical innovation, both at a conceptual and at a pragmatic level. So far, top-down methods have failed to achieve this within a liberal, democratic context. This proposal therefore calls upon world leaders to collaborate with ‘design thinkers’ to help them change social paradigms that sustain our collective habits of behaviour. This approach would require support with the continuing development of a more high-level, self-reflexive, comprehensive, inclusive and integrated mode of design that it refers to as ‘metadesign’. Design thinking is important, because designers are trained to attract behavioural change in direct, imaginative ways, via products, services and images. Working in metadesign teams, they would apply their skills to the search and cultivation of synergies on every level. Ultimately, this would achieve a global synergy-of-synergies.
a) What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20? What are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?
The cultivation of synergy would be a key principal objective for Rio+20. Synergy is an affirmative, under-explored factor that transcends the current, parsimonious, obsolescent paradigm of ‘sustainability’. The ultimate aim of Rio+20 would be the co-creation of a global synergy-of-synergies. An introductory definition of synergy is that it is the free, unforeseen abundance that emerges from a judicious combination of existing resource entities (e.g. materials, actions, ideas and/or problems). Primary synergies can also be synergized with other entities (including synergies) to create secondary or subsequent orders of synergy. As the origin of synergy is always ‘difference’, Rio+20 would publish a practical framework in which a diversity-of-diversities (e.g. political / cultural / biological / ecological / monetary) could be locally identified, managed or created. These would become the basis for new, more complex and integrated, modes of entrepreneurial (and entredonneurial) prosperity.