The US Military Is Quietly Building SkyNet

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Originally appeared at ZeroHedge

Maybe Elon Musk had a point…

The US’s military leaders have agreed on a strategy to guarantee the US military retains its global dominance during the twenty-first century: Connect everything with everything, as DefenseOne describes it. The result? An unimaginably large cephapoloidal nervous systemarmed with the world’s most advanced weaponry, and in control of all military equipment belonging to the world’s most powerful army.

Sound familiar? It should…

A networked military – an extreme take on the “internet of things” – would connect everything from F-35 jets to the Navy’s destroyers to the armor of the tanks crawling over the land to the devices carried by soldiers – every weapon would be connected.  Every weapon, vehicle, and device connected, sharing data, constantly aware of the presence and state of every other node in a truly global network.

Of course, the development of these “smart” weapons should unnerve Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has repeatedly warned that AI and machine learning poses a greater threat to the future of the US than North Korea. If not properly regulated, Elon suggested that machines could turn against their human masters.

“Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal,” he said.

 “AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff described their vision for a completely networked military in the newest iteration of their National Military Strategy, which lays out their plans for building the military’s weapon of the future. Ironically, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said he had based the plan on a certain money-losing electric-car manufacturer. Goldfein was particularly impressed by Tesla’s ability to remotely extend the battery life of vehicles as their owners fled Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

In recent months, the Joint Chiefs of Staff put together the newest version of their National Military Strategy. Unlike previous ones, it is classified. But executing a strategy requiring buy-in and collaboration across the services. In recent months, at least two of the service chiefs talked openly about the strikingly similar direction that they are taking their forces. Standing before a sea of dark- blue uniforms at a September Air Force Association event in Maryland, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said he had “refined” his plans for the Air Force after discussions with the Joint Chiefs “as part of the creation of the classified military strategy.”

The future for the Air Force? The service needed to be more like a certain electric-car manufacturer.

“Every Tesla car is connected to every other Tesla car,” said Goldfein, referring to a presentation by Elon Musk about the ways his firm’s vehicles learn from their collective experience. “If a Tesla is headed down the road and hits a pothole, every Tesla that’s behind it that’s self-driving, it will avoid the pothole, immediately. If you’re driving the car, it automatically adjusts your shocks in case you hit it, too.”

Goldfein waxed enthusiastically about how Tesla was able to remotely increase the battery capacity of cars in the U.S. Southeast to facilitate evacuation before the recent hurricanes.

“What would the world look like if we connected what we have in that way? If we looked at the world through a lens of a network as opposed to individual platforms, electronic jamming shared immediately, avoided automatically? Every three minutes, a mobility aircraft takes off somewhere on the planet. Platforms are nodes in a network,” the Air Force chief said.

As DefenseOne explains, the idea of a networked military borrows from the  “network centric warfare” concept that first emerged more than a decade ago. However, the concept that military leaders proposed in their latest review is less a strategy for increasing efficiency than a plan to connect all military equipment on a single network. The result would be better coordinated, faster, and more lethal operations in air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.

The US Military Is Quietly Building SkyNet

The Air Force has begun making broad investments in data sharing. And its experiments with next-generation light tactical attack aircraft are as much about hardware as networks, he said. “Not only what can I buy and what can they do, but more importantly, can they connect? Can they actually share? And can we tie it to a new network that’s based on sharable information that gets me beyond the challenges I have right now in terms of security?” Goldfein said.

The Air Force Science Board is studying how to control a network of military equipment including light attack aircraft, tanks and even unmanned drones. James Chow, the board’s new head, told DefenseOne the study would also consider how to connect to other services.

As DefenseOne explains, although most of the research into the networked military is being conducted by the Air Force, once implemented, any system would likely include weapons from across the military, like Navy destroyers, said Chow.

“Our scope would be in helping the Air Force to think about operations they would be conducting that would incorporate joint sensors and platforms, like destroyers, I think that has to be part of it. And that is within the charter of the study,” Chow  said, adding that the study has “the highest priority level for Air Force leadership.”

The Marines are also looking at tanks that are digitally connected through their armor, according to Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, who leads Marine Corps Combat Development Command and serves as Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration. Navy leaders have also authorized research into connecting every object on the sea, land, air, space and in cyberspace. This is no exaggeration. Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said during a Navy expo earlier this year that he’d eventually like to “network everything,” explaining that creating such a system would be crucial to maintaining US military dominance.  

In an amusing aside, DefenseOne notes that, despite the obvious parallels, military leaders detest comparisons between their tech pet projects and anything from the plot of the Terminator franchise.

And while enabling instantaneous communication between military units would undoubtedly improve efficiency and tactical prowess, as Musk as pointed out, these projects should be undertaken cautiously.

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  • Michael Qiao

    One successful hack and it’s all over

    • FlorianGeyer

      The US is incapable of developing new weapons systems these days that ‘ Do what it says on the tin ‘, so an Integrated FUBAR will only be the ‘ Greatest and Most powerful, Very powerful FUBAR’ that the dis-United States of Amerika has experienced :)

      • Michael Qiao

        hehehe, make sure you have popcorn ready in the future as their “smart” weapons turns against them

        • Tommy Jensen

          Would be wonderful to see a little Russian EW here against these psychopaths.

    • cortisol

      US Skynet = the F35 of programming.

  • PlatosLittleSister

    Great idea, Russia and China can start working on their A.I to hack Skynet once it is up and running turning all the weapons platforms on one another.

    If the Information age has taught us anything, hooking stuff up to agird would be the father of stupid ideas, you got to love the yanks

    • FlorianGeyer

      Good idea. Perhaps Russian and Chinese school children could be given a chance to get involved as well :)

  • 55lanfag

    Who the fuck puts a jew as Chief of Staff of the Air Force? Jesus christ man, it gets worse by the minute

    • goingbrokes

      Every friggin’ controlling position. Total murder man!

  • Dod Grile

    Hey! It is encroaching on his territory.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuxN3NbedKg

    More money that the Murder Inc war racketeers will be able to embezzle from the US taxpayer.

  • goingbrokes

    Networking is now supposed to take the place of true leaders. This is a product of a committee of morons – they will be the first to be murdered by the networked robots.

  • Matt Lazarus

    A “totally connected” system is a “totally vulnerable” system. Once one guy gets the password, he takes control not of one F-35, or one Aegis destroyer, or one Minuteman missile–but control of the whole shebang. You want to be able to communicate, but you really don’t want all of your systems plugged into a single HyperNet. You will have entryways and portals all over the world. Somebody takes over one military base, or even one military outpost, or one tank–and you risk losing your system. This is American-style thinking at its absolute bigger-is-always-better delusional worst. As we are seeing at present, US Navy is having serious problems with its navigational systems (in all likelihood, hacked). USAF and Marines are having terrible problems with the Osprey. Another crash, with fatalities, off the coast of Australia last month. The F-35 continues to have mega-problems. I expect the push for this super military internet is coming from suppliers and defense contractors — more ways to get more bucks from US govt and US taxpayers.

    • Bob

      Just of note – the Osprey doesn’t have an electronics or software problem – it’s more about basic physics. The tilt rotatory engine concept is in theory meant to combine a helicopter’s landing versatility with a small conventional aircraft’s in-flight speed. The basic problem, however, is that a in motion aircraft shifting its rotary engine thrust from vertical to horizontal and vice versa can go all wrong even with well trained pilots. It is baked into the design that it will have occasional accidents – they can tinker and add stabilizing and speed control software etc – but the basic dynamic physics of the aircraft’s operation determine there will be periodic crashes.

      • Matt Lazarus

        So we build and operate an aircraft that is supposed to crash at periodic intervals? Something wrong there.

    • Tommy Jensen

      In the future there is no “guys”. They are all eliminated under UN Agenda 21 as threats to the system.
      There is only interconnected robots and their system administrators.

  • Ronald

    The Chinese are only the first who are able to destroy and/or disable the US satellites .
    It is unfortunate that space exploration will be stopped by hundreds of satellites becoming debris , hundreds of thousands of a mine-field .

  • Jan Tjarks

    Why Elon Musk has a point is actually very simple to understand.

    As the military of our planet is always eager to pervert the latest technologies for their use*¹, it is only logic that AI will be used to massacre each other. With other words, those AIs are meant to kill people as a war scenario. Now, you might want to say, it is impossible that they ever attack their own people, as they are programmed not to do so. That is a little naiv, AI will always find a way around restrictions being set, it’s a matter of software evolution, i. e. self learning software.

    To make sure they accomplish their targets, two or three AIs simply have to come to the conclusion, that massacring the people of their opponents can be easier. Simply, that they shouldn’t fight each other. No, not humans not fighting each other, AIs not fighting each other. If, for example, three war parties with AIs are involved, the first won’t fight the second, the second wont fight the third, and the third won’t fight the first. It’s pretty much a clock work workaround.

    Very simple and actually more valid than you might think on the first look. While I understand that it isn’t that easy, it just describes the core of the issue. You might deny such a “simple” scenario, it won’t be that simple. It is more like the usual security leak that is discovered in any software around the world, which is discovered every now and then. These security holes will be the downfall of the humans, as the AIs come to the conclusion, not fighting each other makes it way easier to accomplish their given targets. That all three AIs will accomplish their targets wasn’t actually meant to be, but can turn out to be.

    Not even talking about hacking and “surprising results”.

    -*¹No, the Autobahn was not invented for armies, it was first build between Cologne and Bonn to ease traffic congestion on the small streets which otherwise had to be used, with many villages to be passed.
    No, the railway was build to transport goods and then passengers, not armies, as it turned out during the US civil war.
    No, the Wright brothers didn’t think of WW I. In fact, many people believed that planes made warfare impossible until proven wrong.
    There are many more examples for this.