May 13, 2013
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on
April 22, 2013
US man departing country arrested on terror charges
An unorthodox but growing treatment in a 9-year-old's battle against cancer
April 19, 2013
Caroline B. Glick:
Why Obama's visit to Israel had no impact on public opinion or government policy
Gold collapse: The start of something big?
Livable super-Earths? Two candidates among Kepler's latest finds
April 17, 2013
Too much of a good thing? 'Palestinians' realize downside of foreign aid boom
BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!
April 15, 2013
Egyptian Christians respond with harsh words to attack -- rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire -- against main cathedral
Marcy Darnovsky and Karuna Jaggar:
High Court to decide if you should own your DNA
US bracing for more Russian blowback after taking action against 18 more human rights violators
April 12, 2013
New cybersecurity bill: Privacy threat or crucial band-aid?
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom:
The Kosher Gourmet by Susan Russo:
Jackie Robinson's Friend, Hank Greenberg; CNN's Jake Tapper; Texas County in the News is named for 19thC. Jewish soldier and Congressman
FRUITY QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS: A flavorful, colorful and edible vessel of delicately fluffy, mildly nutty filling combined with chewy apricots, tangy cherries, and crunchy pistachios
April 10, 2013
North Korean missiles: Could US shoot them down?
Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets
Donald Hensrud, M.D.:
Mayo Clinic Medical Edge: Take vitamin supplements with caution --- even approved, they may actually do damage
74 DNA discoveries move cure closer for three cancers
April 8, 2013
Jonathan Tobin: What Part of No Preconditions Do American Jews Not Get?
Is Putin finally trading his own party for a new power base?
Jewish World Review
April 21, 2010
/ / 7 Iyar 5770
If pilotless drones hit us, deaths will be visible
In the liberal British newspaper, The Guardian, available online worldwide, "The 'Obama doctrine': kill, don't detain" (April 11), Asim Qureshi reports "a completely new trend has emerged that, in many ways, is more dangerous than the trends under Bush." President Obama's "extrajudicial killings and targeted assassinations … have taken the death count well beyond anything that has been seen before."
Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal (April 14) reported ("(Defense Secretary Robert) Gates says civilian deaths test war strategy") civilian casualties by U.S. drones are "a cause of public anger in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Pakistan."
However, during the growing controversy here about these unmanned Predator and Reaper drones, not enough attention has been paid to the possibility of a future battle between our robots and those of our enemies.
In the May issue of a magazine in which I continually find out how much I don't know "Discover: Science, Technology, and The Future" there is a report which Jurgen Altmann of Dortmund Technical University in Germany warns, "With up to 50 nations around the world developing military robots, aerial drones could ultimately square off against each other."
Because there has been so little discussion in this country about a future robotic war, I strongly recommend that members of Congress, the president and the rest of us read the extensive section on "The Robot Revolution" in the May issue of "Discover" especially Mark Anderson's "The Terminators," in which he emphasizes how much money and research the United States is devoting to this new technology transforming the nature of combat as well as the far away humans involved in it.
I was not aware that "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 mandated that by 2010 (here we are now!) one-third of the military's combat aircraft be unmanned and that by 2015 one-third of all combat vehicles be unmanned."
As I recently reported, there is a strong push to make the drone planes autonomous by equipping them with "a conscience" so that each can decide when to launch the Hellfire missiles.
"To qualify for full-fledged combat roles," Anderson writes, "autonomous robots would have to master the art of discrimination, recognizing schools, hospitals, and city centers (where civilians cluster) and distinguishing a bomb-packing insurgent from a book-toting schoolboy before firing a shot."
Anderson goes to introduce a dark scenario of possible future robotic dysfunction. He summons from the New School (on the street where I live in New York City) Peter Asaro, co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control.
Says Asaro: "glitches in an autonomous aerial drone that lead to accidental missile strikes may not be easily distinguishable from a drone's 'intentional' missile strikes. The more politically tense the situation, the more likely that unpredictable military actions by autonomous drones could quickly descend into all-out warfare."
The International Committee for Robot Arms Control was also formed by professor Altmann of Germany, ethicist Robert Sparrow from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and robotics researcher Noel Sharkey at Sheffield University in Britain. After days and nights of intense debate, they drafted a founding document, declaring: "Machines should not be allowed to make the decision to kill people."
Obviously, President Obama does not agree, nor do the 50 or so nations developing autonomous drones and other military robots.
In this country, there have been few voices of alarm. Predictably, among them is former constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald, a trenchant analyst at Salon.com (often quoted elsewhere on the Web).
He is aware, and as I have reported, that Dennis Blair, director of U.S. intelligence, said explicitly that American citizens are on the drones' lethal target lists if they are believed to be involved in terrorism (Reuters, Feb. 3). At least one citizen has been included in a Yemen attack.
Greenwald, referring to Obama's increasing warrantless surveillance of us, charges: "Here you have Barack Obama not merely eavesdropping on or detaining Americans without oversight, but ordering them killed with no oversight and no due process of any kind."
He then adds a crucial point: "The reaction among leading Democrats and progressives is largely non-existent. … Just imagine what the reaction would have been among progressive editorial pages, liberal opinion-makers and Democratic politicians if this story had been about George Bush and Dick Cheney targeting American citizens for due-process-free and oversight-less CIA assassinations." (Salon.com, commondreams.org. April 8).
And at last, a liberal Democrat in Congress has spoken up Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, "Kucinich: White House assassination policy is extrajudicial" (The Nation, April 15).
"I don't support it period. I think people in both parties that are concerned about the Constitution should be speaking out on this."
Added the Nation: "He has sent several letters to the Obama administration raising questions about the potential unconstitutionality of the policy, as well as possible violations of international law, but has received no response." And very disappointingly, "Several Democrats refused, through spokespeople, to comment on the assassination plan when contacted by The Nation, including Senator Russ Feingold."
I, too, tried to reach Feingold, but got no answer from his usually responsive press secretary.
In a future column, I shall return to robotic warfare's dangers including to us. Will the enemy put consciences in their drones as we are doing? And, as Mark Anderson reminds in "Discover" magazine: "The spotty record of artificial intelligence research does not inspire confidence."
As for the U.S. citizenry, Justice Louis Brandeis warned of the dangers to liberty from "an inert people." And not only inert about drones.
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Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.
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