Defense Experts: China Poses ‘Existential Threat’ To U.S.

Technocracy in China is a greater threat to the world than military domination, although the two could go hand-in-hand. Technocracy means total Scientific Dictatorship and China is racing to complete its global net. ⁃ TN Editor

China’s growing power throughout the world presents an existential threat to Americans’ future that they are not prepared for, experts warned Thursday during a panel discussion at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

“This is an existential threat. The American people are not prepared to deal with it, but this will be the challenge of our generation, and maybe later ones as well,” said Gordon G. Chang, author and expert on China.

The panel, entitled, “China, the Global Menace,” was one of several during the three-day conference exploring the challenge to the U.S. from a rising China.

Rick Fisher, senior fellow on Asian Military Affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said China has been methodically building networks around the world, as well as a military that will project power around the globe.

“China for 30 years has been assiduously gathering economic power in all regions of the planet, using this economic power to gather political networks, and is…today convincing those political networks to begin military cooperation to proto-alliance cooperation with China,” he said.

For example, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization started in 1996 as an economic cooperation body, but “all it produces are military exercises,” Fisher said.

He said in July, China announced the China Africa Defense and Security Forum, which includes every country on the African continent but is “controlled by the People’s Liberation Army.”

“So this is the beginning of a second proto-alliance, and they make no bones publicly [that they are] working to form a similar forum in all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.

Experts on the panel said China is the largest source of support outside the region for the Cuban communist regime, the Venezuelan dictatorship, and other left-wing regimes.

Retired Navy Captain Jim Fanell, a former intelligence officer and current fellow at the Geneva Center for Security, said more and more Chinese navy vessels have been going to the Caribbean.

“I expect at some point in the near future, you’re going to start seeing Chinese intelligence collection vessels operating in the Caribbean and more closely to each of our coasts, because they’ve been very frustrated that we’ve been operating inside the first island chain in the Western Pacific,” he said.

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Pentagon Releases Blueprint For Accelerating Artificial Intelligence

 Pentagon Technocrats are having a heyday with AI. The report states, “AI is poised to transform every industry, and is expected to impact every corner of the Department, spanning operations, training, sustainment, force protection, recruiting, healthcare, and many others.” The problem is obvious: “artificial intelligence” is an oxymoron. ⁃ TN Editor

The Pentagon made public for the first time on Feb. 12 the outlines of its master plan for speeding the injection of artificial intelligence (AI) into military equipment, including advanced technologies destined for the battlefield.

By declassifying key elements of a strategy it had adopted last summer, the Defense Department appeared to be trying to address disparate criticism that it was not being heedful enough of the risks of using AI in its weaponry or not being aggressive enough in the face of rival nations’ efforts to embrace AI.

The 17-page strategy summary said that AI — a shorthand term for machine-driven learning and decision-making — held out great promise for military applications, and that it “is expected to impact every corner of the Department, spanning operations, training, sustainment, force protection, recruiting, healthcare, and many others.”

It depicted AI’s embrace in solely positive terms, asserting that “with the application of AI to defense, we have an opportunity to improve support for and protection of U.S. service members, safeguard our citizens, defend our allies and partners, and improve the affordability and speed of our operations.”

Stepping back from AI in the face of aggressive AI research efforts by potential rivals would have dire — even apocalyptic — consequences, it further warned. It would “result in legacy systems irrelevant to the defense of our people, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living, and growing challenges to societies that have been built upon individual freedoms.”

The publication of the Pentagon strategy’s core concepts comes eight months after a Silicon Valley revolt against the military’s premier AI research program. After thousands of Google employees signed a petition protesting the company’s involvement in an effort known as Project Maven, meant to speed up the analysis of videos taken by a drone so that military personnel could more readily identify potential targets, Google announced on June 1 that it would back out of it.

But the release of the strategy makes clear that the Trump administration isn’t having second thoughts

about the utility of AI. It says the focus of the Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), created last June, will be on “near-term execution and AI adoption.” And in a section describing image analysis, the document suggests there are some things machines can do better than humans can. It says that “AI can generate and help commanders explore new options so that they can select courses of action that best achieve mission outcomes, minimizing risks to both deployed forces and civilians.”

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China Releases Fully Autonomous Killer Robots And Drones For Combat

Thanks to China, the Technocrat arms race for autonomous killing machines has accelerated as they proliferate their new weapons systems to any non-Western aligned nation in the world. ⁃ TN Editor

China is aggressively unleashing lethal fully autonomous drones that can carry out targeted military strikes, a think tank has warned.

The killer drones and pilotless aircraft fitted with AK-47 rifles are being exported to Asia, Africa and combat zones in the Middle East.

China is unleashing lethal fully autonomous drones that can carry out targeted military strikes
China’s CH-7 stealth aircraft is expected to have its first flight in late 2019

US national security think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) said in a report that Chinese officials see this AI ‘arms race’ as a threat to global peace.

Gregory C Allen, the author of the report, said China is rushing to integrate ever more sophisticated artificial intelligence into weapons and military equipment.

He pointed out that drones, both large and small, are a particular example of a type of weaponry that is increasingly becoming automated.

In the US, drones are capable of basic autopilot, performing simple tasks like flying in a circle around a target.

But China is being “more aggressive about introducing greater levels of autonomy closer to lethal use of force,” he says.

One example is the Blowfish A2 drone, which China exports internationally and which Mr Allen says is advertised as being capable of “full autonomy all the way up to targeted strikes.”

‘TARGETED PRECISION STRIKES’

The Blowfish A2 “autonomously performs complex combat missions, including fixed-point timing detection and fixed-range reconnaissance, and targeted precision strikes.”

Depending on customer preferences, Chinese military drone manufacturer Ziyan offers to equip Blowfish A2 with either missiles or machine guns.

Mr Allen wrote: “Though many current generation drones are primarily remotely operated, Chinese officials generally expect drones and military robotics to feature ever more extensive AI and autonomous capabilities in the future.

“Chinese weapons manufacturers already are selling armed drones with significant amounts of combat autonomy.”

China is also interested in using AI for military command decision-making.

FUTURE OF WARFARE

According to the report, Zeng Yi, a senior executive at China’s third largest defense company, said AI will be at the core of future warfare.

“Mechanized equipment is just like the hand of the human body. In future intelligent wars, AI systems will be just like the brain of the human body,” Zeng said, according to the report.

He added that “AI may completely change the current command structure, which is dominated by humans” to one that is dominated by an “AI cluster.”

This opinion is consistent with broader thinking in Chinese military circles.

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‘Blackout Warfare’: China, Russia Building Super-EMP Bombs

One way to stop Technocracy dead in its tracks would be to destroy electronics on a massive scale. However, if Technocrats are controlling foreign/military policy, that will never happen because it essential for societal control. ⁃ TN Editor

Several nations, including China and Russia, are building powerful nuclear bombs designed to produce super-electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves capable of devastating all electronics—from computers to electric grids—for hundreds of miles, according to a newly-released congressional study.

A report by the now-defunct Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from EMP Attack, for the first time reveals details on how nuclear EMP weapons are integrated into the military doctrines of China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

The report discloses how those states could use EMP attacks in theaters of battle in the Middle East, Far East, Europe, and North America.

“Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber, sabotage, and EMP,” the report states.

“This new way of warfare is called many things by many nations: In Russia, China, and Iran it is called Sixth Generation Warfare, Non-Contact Warfare, Electronic Warfare, Total Information Warfare, and Cyber Warfare.”

Nuclear-electronic warfare also is called “Blackout War” because of its effects on all electronic devices.

EMP attacks will be carried out at such high altitudes they will produce no blast or other immediate effects harmful to humans. Instead, three types of EMP waves in seconds damage electronics and the strikes are regarded by adversaries as not an act of nuclear war.

“Potential adversaries understand that millions could die from the long-term collateral effects of EMP and cyber-attacks that cause protracted black-out of national electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures,” the report said.

The attacks are regarded by enemy military planners as a relatively easy, potentially unattributable means of inflicting mass destruction and forcing opponents to capitulate.

EMP strikes can be adjusted in the size of the area and the intensity of the wave by detonating at different altitudes. The closer to the earth the more powerful is the pulse. The higher the altitude, the wider the area of impact.

“A single nuclear weapon can potentially make an EMP attack against a target the size of North America,” the report said. “Any nuclear weapon detonated at an altitude of 30 kilometers [18.6 miles] or higher will generate a potentially catastrophic EMP.”

Super-EMP bombs produce gamma rays that generate a peak EMP field of 200,000 volts per meter—enough to fry strategic communications and intelligence systems. China, Russia, and probably North Korea are said to have these arms, according to the commission. The United States has no super-EMP weapons in its nuclear arsenal.

The bombs do not require accuracy and the weapons do not require a re-entry vehicle, heat shield, and shock absorbers required for nuclear warheads detonated in the atmosphere above targets.

The weapons can be delivered through a variety of means including satellites, long- or medium-range missile; short-range missiles launched from a freighter; from some cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles; from jets or a commercial jetliner; or a meteorological balloon.

The declassified report was cleared for release by the Pentagon after a security review and provides graphics showing for the first time in an official government publication how nuclear detonations triggered 18.6 miles to 248 miles above the earth will produce targeted electronic waves stretching up to 1,500 miles.

Portions of the report are redacted in order to prevent adversaries from learning U.S. electronic vulnerabilities.

The report shows how Iran—a state U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed is one year away from building a nuclear weapon—could use a single nuclear weapon fired on a medium-range missile to black out Israel, Egypt and Israel together, or Saudi Arabia without creating blast damage.

China also could use EMP weapons to plunge the island of Taiwan into electronic darkness and disable aircraft carrier strike groups sailing to defend Taiwan from a mainland attack.

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Navy Ready To Unleash Killer Robot Ships On World’s Oceans

War-minded Technocrats within DARPA have one answer for wiping out the enemy: autonomous machines. When DARPA first released Sea-Hunter, there were pledges that it was only for surveillance and not killing. The flip-flop was anticipated. ⁃ TN Editor

The world’s largest navy has spent the last few years feeling like it was being put in check.

China and Russia have heavily invested in anti-access technologies aimed at holding its main force-projection assets — aircraft carriers — at risk. Now the U.S. Navy and the upper ranks of the military are preparing to take back control of the game board, and it’slooking to unmanned technologies to help.

The U.S. surface fleet has for the past few years sought to flip the script on actors such as China. The fleet aimed to move from a role of simply defending the carrier to going on the offensive.

The goal was to spread out over a wide area to strain Chinese intelligence and reconnaissance assets and thereby exercise a degree of sea control in places such as the South and East China seas that China seeks to deny with long-range, anti-ship missiles and an ever-growing fleet.

Initially, the push was to add big surface combatants to hold down the Navy’s hefty commitments for peacetime presence while maintaining enough firepower to both defend themselves and project power in an anti-access environment.

But that’s changing.

The Navy plans to spend this year taking the first few steps into a markedly different future, which, if it comes to pass, will upend how the fleet has fought since the Cold War. And it all starts with something that might seem counterintuitive: It’s looking to get smaller.

“Today, I have a requirement for 104 large surface combatants in the force structure assessment; I have 52 small surface combatants,” said Surface Warfare Director Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall. “That’s a little upside down. Should I push out here and have more small platforms? I think the future fleet architecture study has intimated ‘yes,’ and our war gaming shows there is value in that.”

Enter: the rise of the machines.

The paradigm shift is moving the fleet away from platforms like the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — enormous, tightly packed ships bristling with capabilities, weapons and sensors, but enormously expensive to build, maintain and upgrade.

“It’s a shift in mindset that says, instead of putting as much stuff on the ship for as much money as I have, you start thinking in a different way,” Boxall said in a December interview. “You start saying: ‘How small can my platform be to get everything I need to be on it?’

“We want everything to be only as big as it needs to be. You make it smaller and more distributable, given all dollars being about equal. And when I look at the force, I think: ‘Where can we use unmanned so that I can push it to a smaller platform?’ ”

The Navy is getting ready to find out.

Inside Boxall’s OPNAV N96 shop, officials are preparing a request for information from industry for two new classes of manned or optionally manned warships: a medium sensor platform along the lines of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Sea Hunter, and a large unmanned surface combatant able to carry sensors and weapons — an unmanned ship on a scale never yet attempted.

The RFI is the first step in the process toward creating a program to design and build the ships.

The idea

The unmanned surface combatants are part of an overall fleet structure that has been approved by the Joint Staff, Boxall said, and includes both the Navy’s next-generation frigate and the large surface combatant that will ultimately replace both the cruisers and the destroyers.

In this construct, the manned combatants will act as command and control for the unmanned sensors and shooters, keeping humans firmly in the loop.

For the medium unmanned surface combatant, the fleet is looking at a forward sensor platform that can connect back to manned surface combatants that can process and act on the data.

“Should we put a sensor forward on a medium unmanned platform [to detect air targets]? Should we look at [anti-submarine warfare] with the sensors out ahead of the force or on a prescreen? Those are the types of things we are looking at when you talk about the medium unmanned — mostly you are talking about sensors and communicating them in some ways,” Boxall said. “Sensing, communicating and maybe a little bit of command and control.”

In regard to the large unmanned surface combatant, Boxall and his team are researching what’s needed to get a big sensor like a solid-state phased array radar onboard, along with missiles to make it a no-b.s. killer.

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China, Russia, US In Heated Military Race To Control Atmosphere

Make no mistake about geo-engineering and HAARP: It is driven by Technocrats in the military to weaponize weather against other superpowers. Messing with the ionosphere is potentially existential to humanity. ⁃ TN Editor

China and Russia have modified an important layer of the atmosphere above Europe to test a controversial technology for possible military application, according to Chinese scientists involved in the project.

A total of five experiments were carried out in June. One, on June 7, caused physical disturbance over an area as large as 126,000 sq km (49,000 square miles), or about half the size of Britain.

The modified zone, looming more than 500km (310 miles) high over Vasilsursk, a small Russian town in eastern Europe, experienced an electric spike with 10 times more negatively charged subatomic particles than surrounding regions.

In another experiment on June 12, the temperature of thin, ionised gas in high altitude increased more than 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) because of the particle flux.

The particles, or electrons, were pumped into the sky by Sura, an atmospheric heating facility in Vasilsursk built by the former Soviet Union’s military during the cold war.

The results were “satisfactory”, the research team reported in a paper published in the latest issue of the Chinese journal Earth and Planetary Physics.

“The detection of plasma disturbances … provides evidence for likely success of future related experiments,” the researchers said.

Professor Guo Lixin, dean of the school of physics and optoelectronic engineering at Xidian University in Xian and a leading scientist on ionosphere manipulation technology in China, said the joint experimentation was extremely unusual.

“Such international cooperation is very rare for China,” said Guo, who was not involved in the experiment. “The technology involved is too sensitive.”

The sun and cosmic rays produce a large amount of free-flying, positively charged atoms known as ions at altitudes from 75km to 1,000km. The layer, or ionosphere, reflects radio waves like a mirror. The ionosphere allows radio signals to bounce long distances for communication.

The militaries have been in a race to control the ionosphere for decades.

The Sura base in Vasilsursk is believed to be the world’s first large-scale facility built for the purpose. Up and running in 1981, it enabled Soviet scientists to manipulate the sky as an instrument for military operations, such as submarine communication.

High-energy microwaves can pluck the electromagnetic field in ionosphere like fingers playing a harp. This can produce very low-frequency radio signals that can penetrate the ground or water – sometimes to depths of more than 100 metres (328 feet) in the ocean, which made it a possible communication method for submarines.

Changing the ionosphere over enemy territory can also disrupt or cut off their communication with satellites.

The US military learned from the Russian experiment and built a much larger facility to conduct similar tests.

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, was established in Gakona, Alaska, in the 1990s with funding from the US military and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The HAARP facility could generate a maximum 1 gigawatt of power, nearly four times that of Sura.

China is now building an even larger and more advanced facility in Sanya, Hainan, with capability to manipulate the ionosphere over the entire South China Sea, according to an earlier report by the South China Morning Post.

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U.S. Army To Launch Robot Trucks In 2019

Robot trucks carrying drone swarms, robot soldiers, autonomous artillery, autonomous missiles; what could go wrong with this? Military Technocrats who insist that technology is the answer to all problems are turning the world into a technological kill zone. ⁃ TN Editor

The US Army has recently stated that two transportation battalions will receive a fleet of autonomous leader-follower vehicles by summer 2019. This is a developing theme in the service of ‘take the man out of the machine’ has led to a new era of autonomous systems entering the modern battlefield as the Pentagon prepares for the next series of conflicts.

“The Ground Vehicle Systems Center’s work with the Robotic Operating System – Military (ROS-M) covers a spectrum of autonomy and robotics, including small explosive ordnance disposal-assist robots that have been fielded as part of the advanced leader-follower capabilities that Soldiers in two transportation battalions will see by summer 2019,” said an article published in the January – March 2019 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

According to the Defence Blog, the ROS-M “uses an open-source approach and a widely accepted software framework with common government and industry software to develop military robotics and autonomous systems. The open-source approach allows developers to create software modules for different applications and enables integrators to build modular systems using the best software modules available for military autonomous systems.”

During the Afghan war, the Army consumed around 45 million gallons of fuel per month; the human cost was one death or injury for every 24 fuel convoys brought in.

Pentagon figures show in 2013 alone, about 60% of US combat causalities were related to convoy resupply.

In the post IED era, removing the human element from the supply chain has been a significant focus for the Army and the primary driver for developing new autonomous systems.

Robotic vehicles can help the Army in multiple ways: “It eliminates the need for Soldiers to conduct mundane, dangerous or repetitive tasks that can be automated, and it increases the standoff distance between Soldiers and a threat, which can greatly enhance safety. Additionally, automation can increase logistics on convoy missions,” said the Defense Blog.

For example, two soldiers can operate an entire convoy that usually requires dozens of soldiers or about two per vehicle. This frees up soldiers to conduct other missions, and or tasks that involve defending the caravan from enemy forces.

The Army is expected to procure the autonomous vehicles sometime in 2019. Robots will take the place of humans in ground-based resupply missions. These autonomous vehicles will be used for delivering ammunition, fuel, weapons, and casualty evacuation.

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Expert: AI Soldiers Will Develop ‘Moral Compass’ And Defy Orders

It has already been demonstrated that AI algorithms exhibit the biases of their creators, so why not murderous intents as well? Technocrats are so absorbed with their Pollyanna inventions that they cannot see the logical end of their existence. ⁃ TN Editor

Murderous robot soldiers will become so advanced they could develop their own moral code to violently defy orders, an AI expert claims.

Ex-cybernetics engineer Dr Ian Pearson predicts we are veering towards a future of conscious machines.

But if robots are thrust into action by military powers, the futurologist warns they will be capable of conjuring up their own “moral viewpoint”.

And if they do, the ex-rocket scientist claims they may turn against the very people sending them out to battle.

Dr Pearson, who blogs for Futurizon, told Daily Star Online: “As AI continues to develop and as we head down the road towards consciousness – and it isn’t going to be an overnight thing, but we’re gradually making computers more and more sophisticated – at some point you’re giving them access to moral education so they can learn morals themselves.

“You can give them reasoning capabilities and they might come up with a different moral code, which puts them on a higher pedestal than the humans they are supposed to be serving.

Asked if this could prove fatal, he responded: “Yes, of course.

“If they are in control of weapons and they decide that they are a superior moral being than the humans they are supposed to be guarding, they might make decisions that certain people ought to be killed in order to protect the larger population.

“Who knows what decisions they might take?

“If you have a guy on a battlefield, telling soldiers to shoot this bunch of people, for whatever reason, but the computer thinks otherwise, the computer is not convinced by it, it might conclude that soldier giving the orders is the worst offender rather than the people he’s trying to kill, so it might turn around and kill him instead.

“It’s entirely possible, it depends on how the systems are written.”

Dr Pearson’s warning comes amid growing concerns of fully autonomous robots being used in war.

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Nat’l Geospatial-Intelligence Agency HQ: Feds Spend $1.7 Billion To Acquire 97 Acres In St. Louis

The NGA answers to the Office of Director of National Intelligence and is charged with tracking everything that moves on planet earth. It is the ultimate in total surveillance in order to ‘master the human domain’. ⁃ TN Editor

City officials announced Friday that they had finalized the transfer of 97 acres north of downtown to the federal government for the construction of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s $1.7 billion western headquarters, capping nearly four years of work assembling the site for one of the city’s largest economic development projects in decades.

“We’re all excited. We are thankful for all the help along the way from both the public and private sector and a great deal of support from the state of Missouri,” said St. Louis Development Corp. Director Otis Williams, who shepherded the project for the city first under former Mayor Francis Slay and now Mayor Lyda Krewson. “This was a huge undertaking. It’s a sigh of relief to get it all done.”

City officials fought hard for years to retain the NGA, which employs some 3,100 people in a facility on the Mississippi riverfront near the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Friday’s announcement is a major milestone in a project that even as recently as this summer appeared potentially at risk.

The official transfer will happen in the coming weeks as top officials complete documents and agreements. This spring, the Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the construction, plans to pick a general contractor from three finalists. Construction could start by late 2019, with the facility’s completion anticipated in 2024 or 2025.

Since the NGA decided in 2016 to build on the city’s north side, St. Louis has spent more than $114 million to buy hundreds of properties, build a new facility for an industrial laundry company, demolish buildings, clear the landand grade it. There have also been legal costs for eminent domain for those owners who didn’t wish to sell, and last-minute court tussles over the summer with the developer and bank that started the whole project, Paul McKee and the Bank of Washington.

The complex financing relied on strong support from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, which started under former Gov. Jay Nixon and into the current administration, and bond underwriting professionals at Stifel, Williams said.

The costs will ultimately be repaid with city earnings taxes and state income taxes from the NGA employees, a worthwhile expense, officials say, for a major project in an area that needs investment and a far better alternative than losing the jobs, as initially feared.

As the federal intelligence agency looked for a site to build a headquarters for its second-largest facility, St. Louis officials were up against counterparts in St. Clair County, who offered an open field ready for development near Scott Air Force Base as an alternative.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the Missouri side of the region’s Congressional delegation lobbied for the project but faced an Illinois Congressional delegation with members close to former President Barack Obama, a former Illinois senator.

“When it first came up, it was looked at as a long shot,” Williams said. “I was told many times that you guys don’t have a chance. I told folks that we were in this to win it. We went all out.”

Ultimately, NGA leaders indicated a desire to stay in the urban core as a way to recruit tech talent and attract private companies that support the agency’s mission. That, coupled with what some saw as the Obama administration’s commitment to urban renewal, allowed the city to retain the facility despite the daunting task of buying out dozens of property owners and clearing land that had held generations of residents.

In a statement, NGA Director Robert Cardillo called it a “historic day.”

“Building upon our history in St. Louis, the new campus in North City will enable NGA to deliver our mission through the end of the century and beyond,” he said. “We look forward to continue teaming with the talent and innovation of the St. Louis region.”

Development in the area would be the most significant project in memory on the city’s North Side, which has long struggled from disinvestment.

Mayor Lyda Krewson pointed to the planned facility’s proximity to downtown, area universities and the Cortex tech district, which will help grow the cluster of geospatial and mapping technology jobs in the region that support and are supported by the NGA’s workforce and contractors.

“NGA is like any other employer, and their goal is to attract and retain talent,” she said. “What we’re looking to do through the startup community, the tech community, is to support the businesses in the area and the residents in the area to make sure there’s good development in and around the area.”

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Weaponized AI: The Future Of Algorithmic Forever Wars

Whatever AI is to civilian populations, to a war zone it is killing on steroids, and could play the central role in our so-called ‘forever wars’ like Afghanistan. ⁃ TN Editor

The US military is creating a more automated form of warfare – one that will greatly increase its capacity to wage war everywhere forever.

ast month marked the 17th anniversary of 9/11. With it came a new milestone: we’ve been in Afghanistan for so long that someone born after the attacks is now old enough to go fight there. They can also serve in the six other places where we’re officially at war, not to mention the 133 countries where special operations forces have conducted missions in just the first half of 2018.

The wars of 9/11 continue, with no end in sight. Now, the Pentagon is investing heavily in technologies that will intensify them. By embracing the latest tools that the tech industry has to offer, the US military is creating a more automated form of warfare – one that will greatly increase its capacity to wage war everywhere forever.

On Friday, the defense department closes the bidding period for one of the biggest technology contracts in its history: the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (Jedi). Jedi is an ambitious project to build a cloud computing system that serves US forces all over the world, from analysts behind a desk in Virginia to soldiers on patrol in Niger. The contract is worth as much as $10bn over 10 years, which is why big tech companies are fighting hard to win it. (Not Google, however, where a pressure campaign by workers forcedmanagement to drop out of the running.)

At first glance, Jedi might look like just another IT modernization project. Government IT tends to run a fair distance behind Silicon Valley, even in a place as lavishly funded as the Pentagon. With some 3.4 million users and 4 million devices, the defense department’s digital footprint is immense. Moving even a portion of its workloads to a cloud provider such as Amazon will no doubt improve efficiency.

But the real force driving Jedi is the desire to weaponize AI – what the defense department has begun calling “algorithmic warfare”. By pooling the military’s data into a modern cloud platform, and using the machine-learning services that such platforms provide to analyze that data, Jedi will help the Pentagon realize its AI ambitions.

The scale of those ambitions has grown increasingly clear in recent months. In June, the Pentagon established the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), which will oversee the roughly 600 AI projects currently under way across the department at a planned cost of $1.7bn. And in September, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the Pentagon’s storied R&D wing, announced it would be investing up to $2bn over the next five years into AI weapons research.

So far, the reporting on the Pentagon’s AI spending spree has largely focused on the prospect of autonomous weapons – Terminator-style killer robots that mow people down without any input from a human operator. This is indeed a frightening near-future scenario, and a global ban on autonomous weaponry of the kind sought by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is absolutely essential.

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