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What Happens In Vegas Happens In Afghanistan 522

Posted by timothy
from the far-from-the-madding-crowd dept.
theodp writes "After the morning commute from his Las Vegas apartment, Air Force captain Sam Nelson sits in a padded chair inside a low, tan building in Nevada, controlling a heavily armed drone aircraft soaring over Afghanistan, prepared to kill another human being 7,500 miles away if necessary. Welcome to the surreal world of drone pilots, who have a front-row seat on war from half a world away. 'On the drive out here, you get yourself ready to enter the compartment of your life that is flying combat,' explained retired Col. Chris Chambliss. 'And on the drive home, you get ready for that part of your life that's going to be the soccer game.' No wonder why the Air Force is interested in the Xbox LIVE crowd and the Army's opened a new arcade recruitment center!"
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What Happens In Vegas Happens In Afghanistan

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:33PM (#31222100)

    The risk to them: We kill them. If we ever get Bin Ladin in the sights of one of these things, it'll be well worth the investment.

    The risk to us: We lose a drone. Pilot safe, and he can move on to another drone to keep going.

    Sure, they can try to kill the pilot in Vegas... but that's a mainland murder and that's a whole lot easier to solve and capture them here. Furthermore, they've got to be here to do that.

    So, net result is we're bringing the war to them using technology we have and they don't. Now our fighter planes don't need to have the fighter pilot on-board. They might own the ground in the war zone, but we own the air.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302)

      I wonder if the pilots get to post messages online labeling the insurgent snipers `cowards` when they're taking a break from being `brave` pilots.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)

        You have a point. We publicly declare enemy snipers holding a street or planting IEDs in the path of armed soldiers to be cowards... yet we're actively working on technology to launch drones from ships at sea and control them from plain office buildings in the USA. How are drone pilots any DIFFERENT than snipers hiding in the bushes shooting at women and children, how many "lives" is the drone pilot allowed to take to save is MACHINE? Even enemy snipers are putting THEIR lives on the line for battle, our

    • by xmark (177899) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:47PM (#31222242)

      We start to treat killing the enemy the way we treat killing chickens at the Perdue packing plant.

      At the most fundamental level, war is still human beings killing other human beings...usually human beings who've never met. One of the damping feed-backs in the war loop is the ugliness and brutality of it. That loop needs more, not fewer, negative feed-backs. Further depersonalization and sterilization of war may incentivize the decision to engage in it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And if you actually *read* the article, you'll see that many of the people involved feel that this is *more* "personalized" than the old way of doing it (a bomber 30-40k feet in the air).

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          I have very little respect for bombers and pilots who kill enemies while sipping Mountain Dew from the comfort of their chair and air conditioning. That's not anything to be proud of.

          I respect more the lowly grunt, who actually fights for his life during combat, even though he has better armor, better equipment, and better medical facilities than the irregular forces against him.

          Cowards should not be held up as heroes.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I have very little respect for the crossbowman, who kills his enemies from the safety of the castle walls.

            I respect more the lowly grunt, who actually fights with his life during combat, with his sword and pike.

            Cowards should not be held up as heroes.

          • by wronskyMan (676763) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:20PM (#31222638)
            Why? At the risk of quoting John Wayne, war isn't about giving your life for your country - it's about making the other bastard give his life for his.
            • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:42PM (#31222846) Journal

              At the risk of quoting John Wayne, war isn't about giving your life for your country - it's about making the other bastard give his life for his.

              John Wayne... George Patton... Same thing, really...

            • by scdeimos (632778) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:57PM (#31222990)

              War is about greed. War is governments killing people, both people of their enemies and their own, instead of being reasonable and sorting out their differences.

              If government officials themselves had to go into armed conflict with each other when negotiations failed (instead of sending in their armies or assassins), how many disagreements do you think would get resolved over a conference table?

            • by Pfil2 (88340) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @08:46PM (#31223950)

              Why? At the risk of quoting John Wayne, war isn't about giving your life for your country - it's about making the other bastard give his life for his.

              That was not John Wayne, it was George C. Scott in the movie Patton. The whole quote is "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

              Movie Quote [imdb.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LostCluster (625375) *

        That's called fighting the last war... when we thought that hijackers wanted to go somewhere, we let them into the cockpit. When the new hijackers got the idea that they could take over the plane and hit a target, we ended up with a small number of people able to cause a large number of people, and they didn't care about guilt or punishment because they were fine with the idea of dying in the crash.

        The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes

        • by lawpoop (604919) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:05PM (#31222466) Homepage Journal

          The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes a corrupted religion.

          That's not war, that's a crime ( just like Aum Shinrikyo ) , and when we start thinking it's a war, and treating it as such, we begin to turn society into a militarized police state. Welcome to 1984.

          • by peragrin (659227) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:20PM (#31222634)

            And when crime goes unpunished because the cult has control of significant money and land areas what is the proper response? Send an arrest warrant? What happens when the law in that country allows him to go unpunished?

            There are really very few international laws.

            So what can you do to punish those responsible for cross border crime? Do you know what happens when a naval frigate captures somali pirates right now? They ask them a couple of questions, feed them and release them safely to shore. Why because it is okay to commit piracy in Somali.

            When there is no law only lawlessness remains. in the borders between countries it is without law.

            • by Dalambertian (963810) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:40PM (#31222834)
              The Somalis see their "pirates" as the only force securing their waters right now, and I don't blame them. Europe has been overfishing their waters and polluting their shores with toxic waste for years. Where was the justice of international law then?
              • by peragrin (659227) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @08:13PM (#31223700)

                I didn't say i blamed them. Piracy is and always will be an economic problem. A somali Pirate works for say 1 year, attacks a half a dozen ships captures one and his cut out of the bounty of several million is ~$100,000 dollars. it is the kind of money many in the USA wish they were making. The best part is if you are attacked and can't get away you put down your weapons, they capture you feed you better than you have eaten in months, and set you free.

                as I said piracy is an economic problem. If taking a freighter hostage earns you more money easier than fishing in water polluted and over fished by others then people will go for it. An intelligent solution would be to setup fish farms under Somali control and to buy the product from them at current market price, People will go for the legitimate option if given a fair chance. it must be fair though.

          • Oh please. Get off your moral high horse and pay attention to the God Damned reality that is Humanity. You want to end this global war or not? Pick a side. It's easy (black and white). You can be the victor, or loser/slave to your enemy. Pussyfooting around the issue only leads to more death in the long run.

            • by kill-1 (36256) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @07:17PM (#31223194)

              Terrorism isn't an act of war. Never was, never will be.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by bertoelcon (1557907) *

              Pick a side. It's easy (black and white). You can be the victor, or loser/slave to your enemy.

              Is there a third side? Neither of the two sides I see are just black or white. They both have had varying grays at different points.

          • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:37PM (#31222790)

            The best line from a TV show on the subject in the last 10 years I think is from Battlestar Gallactica.

            "There's a reason we separate military and the police: one fights the enemy of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people."

            This is why I always was nervous about the "war on terror". If it's a war then it's a civil war since extremists are also American citizens. The US Military an incredible effective fighting force. It's too easy in a 'global war on terror' for its sights to be turned onto itself. After all the US despite all the 'exceptionalism' is part of the globe. If terrorism knows no borders then that includes our own.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TubeSteak (669689)

          The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes a corrupted religion.

          If you think the only reason they're attacking the United States is "corrupted religion" then you have no clue WTF has been happening for the last few decades.
          AFAIK almost every Mid-East country from which terrorists come has very specific historical gripes with US foreign policy.

          • by c6gunner (950153) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:45PM (#31222882)

            AFAIK almost every Mid-East country from which terrorists come has very specific historical gripes with US foreign policy.

            When Cuban citizens start flying airliners into American buildings, I'll start taking that argument seriously. Until then, as far as I'm concerned you're just creating excuses for a bunch of theistic fascists.

            • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @09:05PM (#31224142)

              Bingo!

              The US has screwed over any of a dozen countries in Latin America a hundred times worse than we ever even thought of screwing with the middle east. And we were doing it a hundred years before anyone, save bible scholars, bothered to take notice that the ME was even there. In fact, as I sit here typing this, I'm on land that used to belong to Mexico. And it's considerably nicer than any you'd find in that part of the world too.

              Sure, it's simplistic to say things like : "They hate us for our freedom.". But there's a more fundamental incompatibility than just our awful foreign policy.

            • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @10:28PM (#31224822) Journal

              When Cuban citizens start flying airliners into American buildings, I'll start taking that argument seriously. Until then, as far as I'm concerned you're just creating excuses for a bunch of theistic fascists.

              That's a stupid argument and you're a stupid person for making it.
              Why? Because the Middle East isn't Latin America.
              Different people, different culture, different values.

              The mere fact that you're trying to respond with such an argument shows you aren't even close to being able to intelligently discuss the region or the religion. "Theistic fascists" doesn't even begin to explain why (for example) Iraq turned into a clusterfuck of opposition to the US. Hell, it doesn't even explain why 9/11 happened in the first place (hint: try reading what the terrorists stated as their motivation [wikipedia.org]).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ooshna (1654125)

          The rules of war have changed... the enemy isn't a state, it's a force of people loyal to a cult that believes a corrupted religion.

          Corrupted religion? Lets see here we have Muslims on one side and Christians on the other so which side are you talking about. They both seem pretty corrupted to me.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LostCluster (625375) *

            We are not at war with all Muslims, but a particular corruption of that religion that believes all non-believers (including Muslims who don't share in their corrupt version) must be killed.

      • by vertinox (846076) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:46AM (#31225920)

        At the most fundamental level, war is still human beings killing other human beings...usually human beings who've never met. One of the damping feed-backs in the war loop is the ugliness and brutality of it.

        This is a lie repeated over and over again.

        Had your statement been true. WWI would have ended in 6 months.

        And the Germans and Soviets would have called it a true in 1942 at Stalingrad.

        Truth is... Humans can be made to murder each other under the worst possible circumstances possible.

        I remember reading a few German, Russian, and American soldier memoirs and the explicitly state that after about a year on the front line, you stop thinking about the dead bodies or who you are killing after a while.

        Truth is humans can be a lot worse than machines when it comes to reprisal murders. Germans did it. Russians did it. Americans did it. (in vietnam a lot. Thats where the term Frag came from when a friendly soldier went beserk and threw a grenade at his own troops or civilians)

        Take the soldier out of the battlefield and he'll be less likely to murder someone at random simply because he has stress issues.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jeremi (14640)

          This is a lie repeated over and over again. Had your statement been true. WWI would have ended in 6 months.

          All he said was that the ugliness of war is a damping effect, he didn't give any figures as to its strength relative to other factors. Where do you get 6 months from? It could just as easily be speculated that without the damping effect, WWI would have lasted 30 years.

          Truth is... Humans can be made to murder each other under the worst possible circumstances possible.

          Right, but the key is that they h

    • > net result is we're bringing the war to them using technology we have and they don't.

      Oh yeah. None of the old-fashioned junk like Stealth Bombers. Why, I picked one of those up from a neighboring cave for cheap, just last month. :)

      It's powerful new tech, though, and useful--more because of the increased visibility and flexibility brought on by the drones than because of lowering the risk to the pilot of being shot down.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Don't forget incidental risks due to human error, namely the deaths of innocent civilians. Which is another way to lose the war.

      Our track record is NOT perfect. Not by a longshot. In fact, it's a Big Problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nomadic (141991)
      Sure, they can try to kill the pilot in Vegas... but that's a mainland murder and that's a whole lot easier to solve and capture them here. Furthermore, they've got to be here to do that.

      Does it really qualify as "murder"? Isn't that just war?
    • by wigaloo (897600) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:09PM (#31222504)

      Sure, they can try to kill the pilot in Vegas... but that's a mainland murder and that's a whole lot easier to solve and capture them here.

      So, let me get this straight. If a pilot kills them anonymously with drones from thousands of miles away that's war, but if they somehow get to Vegas and kill that drone pilot it's murder? Huh. My double-standard sense is tingling.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bidule (173941)

        My double-standard sense is tingling.

        The Geneva convention was set to clearly divide militaries from civilians. If there is a double-standard in there, is it that States agreed to follow these rules but not the rebels.

        If you are wearing a military uniform, using an aircraft with military marking, and target enemy militaries, you are doing war.

        If you disguise yourself as a civilian, you are a spy or a terrorist, and outside of the convention.

        Although completely unfair, your Afghani rebel is free to openly charge to Vegas in his non-existent pla

        • by wigaloo (897600) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @11:48PM (#31225506)

          My double-standard sense is tingling.

          The Geneva convention was set to clearly divide militaries from civilians. If there is a double-standard in there, is it that States agreed to follow these rules but not the rebels.

          You can't be serious. There hasn't been a functioning government in Afghanistan for years. Who exactly did you expect to sign? The literacy rate in Afghanistan [unicef.org] is 28%. How many of them do you think have even heard of Geneva?

          If you are wearing a military uniform, using an aircraft with military marking, and target enemy militaries, you are doing war. If you disguise yourself as a civilian, you are a spy or a terrorist, and outside of the convention.

          And that is very convenient for you to say, speaking from a position of strength. How did you expect the weak to fight back? Face to face? Would you do that against a vastly superior foe? Your position, or course, is just another example of a double standard. If we are ever going to end this ongoing cycle of war, we are going to have to come to grips with how we are viewed from around the world. Victory in this War on Terror requires winning hearts and minds, and that cannot happen if there is no sense of even-handedness or justice, regardless of what the Convention says. I in no way condone terrorism, but a lasting peace is going to require a much broader view of the problem than you are advocating.

          Although completely unfair, your Afghani rebel is free to openly charge to Vegas in his non-existent plane, wearing his non-existent uniform to kill the remote pilot.

          My Afghani rebel? Go fuck yourself.

          But he cannot cowardly hide behind a disguise to kill. Maybe unfair to non-States, but those are the rules.

          And what would you call piloting a flying killing machine by remote control from thousands of miles away? Heroic?

        • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:20AM (#31225750)

          But he cannot cowardly hide behind a disguise to kill. Maybe unfair to non-States, but those are the rules.

          Had we followed those rules in the 1770's, we'd still be British subjects. The rules of war are devised by powerful state actors to magnify their strengths, prohibit the exploitation of their weaknesses, and minimize their losses. A small state actor -- or a sub-state entity -- which finds itself at war with a powerful state isn't cowardly for refusing to follow rules designed to ensure its defeat; it's intelligent. We leave aside the question of whether it was very smart for the Taliban to allow al Qaeda to provoke a war with the United States. But once engaged in a fight with the United States, the various Afghan factions have three options: fight according to the rules of war and guarantee their defeat, surrender immediately, or fight dirty. And given that option three worked against a Soviet invasion next to which the current American incursion is a pinprick, it's not surprising that they've decided to try it again.

          Once you come to accept that, you will see that you post was, maybe unwillingly, a troll.

          Once you come to accept that, you're just a chauvinistic cheerleader for whatever imperial power you've chosen to identify with to compensate for your lack of self-esteem, making empty legalistic excuses for modern warfare, and trying desperately to divert attention away from what modern warfare actually is: an exercise in which the overwhelming majority of casualties are not among the combatants of either side, but rather civilian bystanders in whatever third world shooting gallery the arms industry has found an opportunity to drive sales of their products.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      It is very tempting to imagine that we can wage a war that is bloodless on our own side.

      However the fact of the matter, at this point, is that there are still soldiers fighting street to street under a hail of sniper fire and rpgs. These troops certainly gain something from the new close air support, but they still have to kick down doors, peer around corners and walk through mined fields.

      We must not allow ourselves to be wowed by new technology and forget about the plight of our soldiers. They are paying t

  • by BSAtHome (455370) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:40PM (#31222150)

    I think the people of the world including the leaders would think twice if they (that is, all leaders and followers) had to do this old-style with rocks and clubs. The readiness to kill is somewhat lower if you have to be involved face-to-face. It is highly problematic if you can kill as if it were a computer game. There is no better prevention than to have your own life on the edge. Yes, I do know there are people willing to do anything regardless the consequence, but I think there would be a net benefit for all if you had to kill face-on.

    • by MorderVonAllem (931645) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:44PM (#31222206)

      Wouldn't it be great if wars could be fought just by the assholes who started them?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The readiness to kill is somewhat lower if you have to be involved face-to-face. It is highly problematic if you can kill as if it were a computer game.

      Those people know what the hell they're doing. They're killing someone. You think the people that sat in nuclear silos at the height of the cold war didn't know what that red button would do? You think they didn't break out in cold sweats at night, hoping and praying the day would never come when they'd be ask to do their last duty for their country? It's disgraceful to think these people are calloused to the fact that they are killing people just because it happens on a computer screen instead of splattere

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @09:38PM (#31224440)

        You've apparently missed the last 40 years of psychological studies that demonstrate what the factors are that reduce the psychological barriers to abusing another person. Reducing psychological barriers also reduces the psychological impact. One of those factors is how personal the abuse is.

        Your argument might work for you, and that's great and all. You, however, are not the rest of the world.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by indiechild (541156)

        I suggest you read "On Killing" and "On Combat" by Dave Grossman. Distance from killing definitely makes killing less traumatic, and much more palatable or sometimes even desirable. These days, infantry training is designed to densensitise you enough that even pulling the trigger and seeing a man drop from your shots is not as traumatic as it once was.

        And now you have killing from the comfort of a computer screen, from halfway around the world. This is no coincidence or accident -- the military wants it thi

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      Isn't that exactly the opposite of what the history of warfare shows us?

      Frankly, I'd rather be shot than have to face a Marine with a knife and his war face on.

  • Toys (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ivan Stepaniuk (1569563) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:42PM (#31222192)
    Remembers me of the movie Toys (1992) [imdb.com], A military general inherits a toy making company and begins making war toys, and recruiting kids to "play" a war simulation game that was in fact a remote control of the real thing. It took less than ten years to make it happen.
  • I know the drones fly slower than a normal jet but wouldn't the latency to something on the other side of the world be a problem? I'd think you'd want someone who's at least on the same continent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ubergamer1337 (912210)
      Most if the time they are not "directly" flying - they spend more time giving autopilot commands, so a bit of lag is just fine.
  • People problem. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:46PM (#31222228)

    I'm sure we'll hear lots about the technology, but when you're in the field, surrounded by your fellow soldiers, then blowing the shit out of a car full of people is a shared experience. You can rely on your friends and fellow soldiers to help you deal with the fact that you just helped end a bunch of lives. Yes, it was the right thing. Yes, it was you or them. But all the justifications aside there's an emotional price to be paid that every person who's been in combat or seen it, or similar.

    Now we have guys sitting in rooms filled with computer screens blowing people up, and is there anyone there to talk to about it? Can they light a cigarette after, put a fist in the wall, and say "Goddamnit, I wish there'd been another way!" No. You're stuck in a sterile environment, air conditioned, quiet, and after blowing the fuck out of someone you can get up and go get yourself a soda from the vend, grab your coat, file some paperwork, and drive home.

    Huge disclaimer -- I'm not in the military, I don't know what these guys to for stress relief, or to deal with the emotional consequences of what they're doing. But I do know the dangers of becoming emotionally numb to violence, and without advocating for or against what the military is doing, I want to ask -- what are we doing to help these soldiers deal with those issues? For that matter, is it even an issue? I don't really know. But I think it helps to look someone in the eye if you have to kill them. To know they were a real person. To remember what you've done -- even if it was the right thing to do, even if there was no other choice, it's a statement about the value of human life.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AvitarX (172628)

      There was a report on NPR about it a while back, and you pretty much captured the issue.

      Also, these people watch the missile they launch until impact, in many ways it is more up-close and personal than flying a bomber.

      That with the complete disconnect from surroundings (Killing people than going to the soccer game), is creating a new situation, that the full mental impact is not fully understood yet. But the drone pilots are being watched, and the military is aware that it is new, and the ways to help are

    • Re:People problem. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ErikZ (55491) * on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:07PM (#31222486)

      Talk to other people about it? You mean besides all the other remote drone pilots?

      Or the next guy up your chain of command? Or your military councilor? Or your spouse? Or your priest/rabbi/whatever?

      Hell, there's probably forum those guys hang out on.

      If there's one thing that's lacking in the modern world, finding people to talk to isn't one of them.

      • Technology and all the options it brings will never change the very human fact that people in emotional distress will always feel there is no one to talk to, no one who will understand, and nothing that can be done about it. The facts being otherwise do nothing to change those facts. And I can assure you our UAS pilots do not want to go home and tell their family about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Now we have guys sitting in rooms filled with computer screens blowing people up, and is there anyone there to talk to about it? Can they light a cigarette after, put a fist in the wall, and say "Goddamnit, I wish there'd been another way!" No. You're stuck in a sterile environment, air conditioned, quiet, and after blowing the fuck out of someone you can get up and go get yourself a soda from the vend, grab your coat, file some paperwork, and drive home.

      You think they don't talk to other people in their un

  • What's worse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:54PM (#31222342)

    Soldiers that come home shell shocked, traumatized for the rest of their lives but on the other side some becoming writers or what not and sharing the horrors of war with the general public.

    Or soldiers largely untouched, but treating their experience like it was a video they watched on digg or a video game, completely detached from the inhumanity of it all - heck, during their lunch break, they may go to Walmart to get a game that will be more exciting to play after work. Even a current fighter pilot faces death, if somewhat distanced to what his weapons do on the ground.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ErikZ (55491) *

      It doesn't matter.

      It's like saying "What's worse? Being shot at with a bullet or having a limb sliced off with a sword?"

      We're switching to bullets anyway.

  • There has to be a way to set up a game server for this, so the war in Afghanistan can be handled by the PS3 community.

    #dronepilate: Got missile lock, about to fire
    #badassbomber: Hold off dude, it looks like a wedding
    #dronepilate: I hate weddings
  • by thenextstevejobs (1586847) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @06:16PM (#31222588)

    not looking forward to the further freedoms I'll lose as an american when the agents of these militias start killing these pilots, and probably some others in the attempt to, on US soil.

    im confident the overzealous US government will use this as an excuse to 'protect me' by further tracking my identity and tabs on my life.

    point is: keep these pilots who are killing people the fuck away from urban american areas, or we're all going to be targets. and in case you say 'we already are', i don't see any reason to make it worse.

    damn mythical 'war' is getting to negatively impact my life more and more, and i'll happily vote for, pay money to, or pledge allegiance to whatever i can to not be involved with the warmongering that this country has been engaged in. pretty confident our behavior in iraq and afghanistan has not generally enhanced the safety for much of anybody, compared to the consequences...

    overall, this is a step in the wrong direction.

  • diden't they do this in a movie? but it was people playing pc games / arcade games controlling bots that where killing real people but it was billed as a game?

    any ways what happens if the bot get's lagged out / jammed?

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @07:29PM (#31223328) Homepage

    The irony of military robots is that we are using them to enforce a global economic system that is based on forcing humans to do labor in exchange for the right to consume the fruits of industry. Why not just build robots to do the work directly instead? Why not use global networks to freely share information about how to make the world a better place that works for everyone? The same is true for nuclear missiles intended to fight over oil and land instead of using the same technologies to build nuclear power plants (or solar ones and wind ones) or to create self-replicating space habitats or seasteads for endless new land. We need to start thinking in 21st century terms now that we have 21st century technology. Otherwise, we will likely accidentally kill ourselves with the tools of abundance.

    As Albert Einstein said:
        http://rescomp.stanford.edu/~cheshire/EinsteinQuotes.html [stanford.edu]
    "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

    Or further:
        http://www.aip.org/history/einstein/nuclear1.htm [aip.org]
    """
    "Concern for man himself must always constitute the chief objective of all technological effort -- concern for the big, unsolved problems of how to organize human work and the distribution of commodities in such a manner as to assure that the results of our scientific thinking may be a blessing to mankind, and not a curse."
    """

    Or more on how Einstein was more than the disconnected absent minded professor he is made out to be:
        http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/sep2002/eins-s03.shtml [wsws.org]
        http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm [sacred-texts.com]

    It is not the nukes and drones that may kill us all eventually, it is the unrecognized irony.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Monday February 22, 2010 @02:17AM (#31226460) Journal

    Announcing a new on-line game for all of you armchair warriors: YouKILL.com! With the U.S. Airforce now introducing new Predator drones with 10 cameras each and more and more battlefield "robots" (like BigDog) everyday, there is far too much sensory data for our overtaxed professional soldiers to process. So, now we allow YOU the average citizen to partake in this wonderful way to defend democracy and earn gaming points at the same time!

    First stage SCOUT - after showing that you are a U.S. Citizen and 16 years of age (wink, wink), you (and 10 randomly selected other fellow citizen scouts) are assigned a real-time video feed STRAIGHT FROM THE SKIES OVER IRAN / I mean AFGHANISTAN. If a majority of you click on the button "Suspected Bad Guy" at the same time, the video feed is instantly passed on to the next level, TARGETING. When you've proven to our computers that you're a good scout by having a excellent record of detection and (as compared with your other teammates) a "low" number of false positives you'll be promoted! (Sorry, hot babes don't count!)

    Second stage TARGETING - Can you take out an insurgent at 3km without harming the orphanage next door? Here again, you (and 10 newly selected random fellow citizen targeters) will wait for "the perfect moment" to pick off the bad guys. In this level, you'll need to consider range, airspeed, armanent, cover and, of course, COLLATERAL DAMAGE. When a majority of you and your teammates think the time has come to fire your feed will be instantly passed to the final stage: FIRING. If you, as measured by the our computers, are consistently picking the best time to shoot compared to your colleagues, we'll promote you to...

    Final stege FIRING - Here's where the fun REALLY begins! Now, you'll be able to take out bad guys FOR REAL! Feel the excitement as you unleash high speed rockets tipped with explosives at the enemy! Not only will you get to keep your online footage of each kill but you'll receive a commemorative coffee mug! (Just don't get too trigger happy otherwise you might get a visit from some of our military lawyers.)

    Not a U.S. Citizen? No problem, we have a bunch of other suppression activities... I mean games available. If you're British you can play YouCOP which takes advantage of England being the video surveillance capital of the world. Here you (and 10 other "Brits") watch for illegal activity and report it! For now, no weaponry involved. But don't worry about it!

    Not a U.S., or British citizen? Care to remain anonymous? Through special arrangement with some other governments we also have a new gaming site: YouREPRESS! Here you can target Tibetans, punish the Palestinians or any other group that our clients want to suppress. All we need is your eyeballs and a good twitch reflex! Remember, points you earn in our games will be tradable for virtual items and maybe even induction into the armed forces of your choice!

    NeoOCP - crowdsourcing for the benefits of Big Governments worldwide! (Not a big government but a big corporation instead? Don't worry, we'll be announcing new crowdsourced spy products for you too! Like our new YouDRM; we'll make it profitable for people to snitch!).

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.

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