our artificial intelligence

Reaper drone strike in Yemen

Since we discovered rocks, it has been the desire of all thinking men to devise ways to kill from a distance. Drones are simply the latest step on that evolutionary chain. While still the stuff of special effects movies, remote controlled and/or robots you wear are receiving active research and development efforts as we write. So, whether the future foot solider turns out to be Iron Man or a materialized electro-mechanical monster operated by a champion video gamer situated in an undisclosed location next to Dick Cheney, the idea is to keep moving the solider back from the battlefield when possible and to armor him (or her) as safely as possible.

In the meantime, we have drones to do our distance killing. These flying devices operated by young men and women sitting in a cider block building outside of Omaha can be use to kill an entire wedding party in some village in Pakistan. This, of course, is never the intent. Such a thing is a miscalculation, usually brought about by faulty intelligence (intel). This is a classic SNAFU (situation normal, all f**ked up). In the case of such SNAFUs military planners and terrorists believe the fault is not in the “kill at a distance” imperative, after all, that is as old as violence, the fault lies in the inefficiency of the current system. No one wants to accidentally kill a wedding party. Unfortunately, when we get our intel from a rival clan in the Swat Valley, we cannot be entirely certain Muhammad Ali Badguy is really in the house making plans to take out the Mall of America. Too often the intel is provided strictly to get even with the Baba Louni clan that reneged on a deal with the Badguy clan in 782, A.D. All to often, Badguy is not only not present, he is the primary source of the bad intel. I think we can all agree this sort of faulty intelligence is, indeed, inefficient.

That kind of betrayal generally stems from something that can’t be forgotten or controlled or forgiven. It often causes lasting bad blood and ill feelings. No matter how much compensation we pay and the dept and sincerity of our apology, some people remained pissed. In this part of the world they are likely to remain pissed for thousands of years. This is a reason why killing from a distance has it drawbacks.

So, a robot humanoid, rich in artificial intelligence and remotely operated (the military, celebrating the artificial intelligence of the device will not say operated, they will say led) from Omaha by our teenaged gamer, may offer a solution. It still offers the distance so prized by killers while, at the same time, can glean better information from the informants on the ground. Then, if we get fooled into killing a bunch of irrelevant actors we can use the humanoid to scoot on over to Badguy’s house and off him pronto. Better still, humanoid can seize Badguy and deliver him, with the nation’s compliments, to whoever may be left in the Baba Louni clan. The simple expedient of instant gratification of the vengeance impulse could save millennia of tedious reprisals.

I suppose the only good thing about the rise of the new Islamic Caliphate from the ashes of Iraq and Syria will be the hastening of these new killing machines. Like the drones, Eric Holder will write a memo assuring us that these will never be used against American citizens in the United States…without justifying circumstances.

I do take comfort in the sure and certain knowledge that the current Supreme Court will not acknowledge the “personhood” of these killing devices until it becomes important to the Koch Brothers that they do so. Hell, that could take months

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Mike Copeland

Mike Copeland

I am old enough to know better. I have a B. A. from Birmingham Southern College and a Master's in City Planning from Georgia Tech. I have worked in SC State government for over a decade leaving as the Deputy Executive Director of the State Budget and Control Board, the state's administrative agency. I have owned the Fontaine Company since 1984 and am the managing member of viscerality.com.llc a management, marketing and consulting company.

I am the author of several novels, some of which you may buy and read if you are of a mind to do so.