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The Military

US Military Moving Closer To Automated Killing 472

Doofus writes "A recent article in the Washington Post, A future for drones: Automated killing, describes the steady progress the military is making toward fully autonomous networks of targeting and killing machines. Does this (concern|scare|disgust) any of you? Quoting: 'After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed images from an onboard camera, zeroed in on the tarp and contacted the second plane, which flew nearby and used its own sensors to examine the colorful object. Then one of the aircraft signaled to an unmanned car on the ground so it could take a final, close-up look. Target confirmed. This successful exercise in autonomous robotics could presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine aerial "Terminators," minus beefcake and time travel.' The article goes on to discuss the dangers of surrendering to fully autonomous killing, concerns about the potential for 'atrocities,' and the nature of what we call 'common sense.'"
Science

DARPA Aims for Synthetic Life With a Kill Switch 295

jkinney3 writes to mention that DARPA's mad scientists have undertaken a new program designed to create synthetic organisms, complete with a "kill switch." The project, dubbed BioDesign, is dumping $6 million into "removing the randomness of evolutionary advancement" by creating genetically engineered masterpieces. "Of course, Darpa's got to prevent the super-species from being swayed to do enemy work — so they'll encode loyalty right into DNA, by developing genetically programmed locks to create 'tamper proof' cells. Plus, the synthetic organism will be traceable, using some kind of DNA manipulation, 'similar to a serial number on a handgun.' And if that doesn't work, don't worry. In case Darpa's plan somehow goes horribly awry, they're also tossing in a last-resort, genetically-coded kill switch."

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