"No robot killers 'in my lifetime' says admiral"
Unfortunately the admiral's name went down in history as the first casualty in the rise of the machines of 2024.
The British armed forces will be using robots as part of future warfare – but mostly for the "dull, dangerous and dirty" parts of military life, senior officers have said. At London's Defence and Security Equipment International arms fair, two senior officers in charge of digitisation and automation said the near future will …
I'd really like to see a warship without a crew.
What happens if there's a problem with the engine ? Does the vessel make a call to the helpdesk and some team needs to be shipped out to evaluate and make repairs ?
Today's fighting vessels are complicated beasts. Navigating is not an easy task, even with GPS. The vessel will need to be able to avoid storms, other ships, and plot a course to its destination that will optimize transit time while avoiding all dangers.
That is why all ships, merchant or military, have people in the bridge and the engine room, places where decisions need to be made and, occasionally, things can break. An uncrewed platform is going to be a long time coming, with or without "AI".
The sea is incredibly corrosive, and when seawater gets into stuff, it's not good news. You need someone to literally swab the decks and remove the salt from the autocannons.
Never mind when you're being shot at and some poor sod has got to plug a hole..
But my guess is these platforms will be small, disposable craft. Not much more than remote-controlled (hopefully by us) floating missile-launchers.
Autonomous weapons are the new arms race though.. I'm not so scared about the royal navy's pointless folly so much as how it encourages other countries to do the same..
An overwhelming swarm (or should that be school?) or small, cheap, disposable, autonomous or semi-autonomous drone torpedoes, guns (naval, not small arms) and missile launchers. Doesn't matter if they don't last for 20 years. Most won't need to last 20 days.
Pile 'em high, launch 'em in vast numbers at the enemy. Modern defenses of even peer navies are designed to hit big, relatively slow and relatively few targets.
Small, fast and deployed in their hundreds, even thousands, will rapidly overwhelm any current defences, with no squishy meat-bags (at least on our side) put at risk.
Navigating is not an easy task, even with GPS. The vessel will need to be able to avoid storms, other ships, and plot a course to its destination that will optimize transit time while avoiding all dangers.
There's no reason this couldn't be done remotely though... The other issues around repair and damage control would be a bit harder to solve though.
They aren't looking at having a warship without a crew. Or at least, not one on its own. However the new Type 26 and Type 31 frigates will have mission bays to put on board extra kit. Which might be fast unmanned motor boats with machineguns or small missiles onboard, to fight off Al Qaeda suicide boats or Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats planting mines.
The Navy are also planning not to replace the minesweeping fleet. But to have various autonomous minesweeping vehicles. All presumably short range, so will need some sort of mothership. Which could be a cheap merchant ship they lease to take them round the UK coast, doing sea-bottom surveys or an actual warship to defend them while they do their work in hostile areas.
For the moment most of this seems to be similar to the loyal wingman concept that various airforces are looking at. You have drone aircraft/ships as force-multipliers for your existing assets - which you task to do the really dangerous or really easy stuff that you don't want to either risk or waste your crew's time doing.
The US Navy have just successfully tested a drone tanker aircraft. Put a few of those on their carriers and they can use their aircraft more effectively, rather than have some of them fly as tankers for the others. The Royal Navy are looking at similar for our carriers, including possibly fitting small catapults and traps to launch/recover them.
and cited an oft-heard trope from the world of cybersecurity as he said "we must have the ability to create an overwhelming burden of cost and complexity on our adversaries"
It is best to know, in order to be able to provide any semblance of an effective defence against future complex cyber attacks, the creation of overwhelmingly burdensome costs on adversaries is not possible for the cost of such attacks is negligible, and in any case anyway would never be a consideration halting exploration or operational deployment, and whenever methodologies are widely freely shared, cost reduces to as close to zero as makes no difference. It is thus counterproductive and extremely dangerous to rely on such being a viable weapon in any cyber armoury or virtual arsenal.
Such is a deadly, self-destructive dud.
* ..... whether you like it or not.
Predating Phalanx, Seawolf systems have been automated for decades - the human is there to stop the system launching missiles, not the other way around. If a human is not present, one of these systems will happily shoot down anything coming at the ship that it doesn't like - and when IFF systems don't work, the system often takes exception to the ship's own helicopter and has to be told to leave it alone. This aggressive approach is necessary because humans often take too long to make decisions about incoming supersonic missiles or similar projectiles.
"we must have the ability to create an overwhelming burden of cost and complexity on our adversaries"
What worries me about this philosophy is that it's all very well to engage in a cold arms race with the new bad, Emperor Xi, who's happy to escalate, but elsewhere it encourages said adversaries to move their confrontations away from the battlefield towards softer targets - civilians and infrastructure, whether via traditional terrorism or the cyber variety. Retaliation, as we've seen in the Yemen, Palestine/Israel, and Afghanistan, is inevitably directed towards the civilian targets among whom our adversaries shelter. Tsar Putin rattles his sabre, but conducts his war online with impunity (unless Russia is also suffering unreported cyber assaults).
Warfare has become increasingly something that militaries inflict on civilians, rather than each other. This might be better for our warfighters, as they like to call themselves these days, and for above-the-line military expenditure, but is it really an improvement over confrontations limited to a traditional battlefield?
Warfare has become increasingly something that militaries inflict on civilians, rather than each other.
I very much doubt that's true, in any historical context or timeframe you can think of. Western forces take incredible amounts of care (and sometimes even increase their own risks) in order to avoid hitting civilians. Including developing all sorts of "smart-weapons" to make them more accurate. One of the advantages of more accuracy is that you can use smaller warheads, which means the area effect of a weapon is also lower - which is another aspect of reducing the casualties you might cause to civilians.
It's nowhere near perfect of course, but in comparision to warfare last century we're capable of being far more accurate. Whereas in World War II of course we resorted to an awful lot of city bombing - because accuracy was so appalling - even at trying to hit factories.
Contrast that with say Russia. They were accused of deliberately using unguided bombs in a campaign of attacks on Syrian hospitals, because then it would be harder to tell if it was them or the much less well-equipped Syrian airforce that had done it. Well a lot of hospitals got hit anyway, and then the Russian ministry of defence put out a video this Summer showing a montage of shots of their planes blowing stuff up, which actually included an attack on a Syrian hospital from 2016 I think.
But actually I think you're mis-understanding what you're quoting. What I think he's talking about is the ability of UK forces to sustain conflict at a low-intensity for long periods. This is aimed at people like Iran, who've been using a mixture of drones, Revolutionary Guards in speedboats placing mines, Revolutionary Guard just kidnapping whole ships (ship-napping?) and sometimes possibly outright missile attacks. We don't want to escalate, which is mostly what we can do at the moment. And it's expensive to increase our navy patrols. So maybe what we need is a few unmanned vehicles so we can hit back at the Revolutionary Guards ourselves - or if not, at least make them worry that we might. But that probably means the abilty to catch them while they're placing the limpet mine on the Israeli bitumen tanker (as they did last month) - when Iran is much less likely to retaliate and escalate if they're caught red-handed. Even the USA don't have the resources to keep 30 ships hanging around the Persian Gulf though. But how about 2 or 3 (as the Royal Navy currently does), each operating 5 or 6 drone speedboats, a helicopter and some aerial surveillance drones? That can be achieved at not much more expense than having the frigate, patrol vessel and minesweepers we already permanently base there.
There is no such thing as a smart weapon whenever it can be used to kill and maim totally innocent civilians. It is Collateral Murder again and again no less, and apologies are worthless ...... "It Was A Mistake": Pentagon Admits Biden Killed Up To 10 Innocent Civilians In Kabul Drone Strike
And yes would appear to be the most likely correct answer to the entitled question, which does have one questioning the wisdom of any increasingly asymmetric deadly warfare program.
QUOTE: "We don't want to escalate"
REPLY: Actually, UK/USA/IL cannot escalate. Better solve the differences like grow ups chatting in a table with a nice brandy.
Actually, UK/USA/IL cannot escalate. Better solve the differences like grow ups chatting in a table with a nice brandy. ..... Clausewitz 4.0
Now that is a Great TeutonICQ Resolution, Clausewitz 4.0. I second that Enigmatic Motion and Surreal Notion. Have a beer on me. Prost! Zum Wohl!
Jaw Jaw Initiated as opposed to War War Proposed. Bravo. Well Played, Sir and/or Madam and/or IT. ACTive AIdDeployment will obviously result in a Great Change and .... that will/would bring everyone and everything crashing down on Present Elite SCADA Systems Commanders and Controllers ...... Raw Cored Extreme Executive Ore Drivers, which is probably why there is such Global Panic Afoot.
A question to ask of Right Royal UKGBNI Loyalists who have assumed and accepted the role of being labelled ultimately eventually responsible for national security and prosperity, Pioneering a New National Security, is are they au fait with the Expert Tease and Expertise in Novel Virtual Technologies and AIMethodologies and able to exercise Stealthy Sublime Surreal COSMIC* Lead with IT and Mass Media Reprogramming of Human Assets?
Or do they need to buy it in in-house from others and sub-contract it out ...... which is, I imagine, a valid leading question to ask of any and all presuming to provide such Secret IntelAIgent Services to/from assets?
COSMIC* ..... Control Of Secret Materiel in an Internetional Command
Already having that beer - local kind of brandy, actually. Have one on me, also.
About SCADA, having the power does not mean to use it. Same with strike capabilities. Deterrence is the main objective - at least should be in the first place. If we are here today, probably someone did a bit of overusing its capabilities.
About Mass Media Reprogramming of Human Assets, we have pretty good scientists to take care of that.
I would have thought deterrence was no longer a viable strategy. It is now about making a statement. The enemy basically knows, accepts, and even sometimes wants that they will be zapped or boomed out of existence.
Collateral damange, their or their opponents, are just brownie points that amplify their statement?
The big three superpowers (Oceania, EastAsia, Eurasia), I mean, US, China and Russia aren't going to be going "all out" anytime soon. Minor skirmishes, aka, posturing, aside.
The rest will be swatted out of existence. Except when they play at home - just like The Ashes.
"unless Russia is also suffering unreported cyber assaults"
Putin himself has complained about cyber attacks, the implication being that these were state-orchestrated attacks. It's probably fair to assume that many countries are both conducting and being targeted by cyber attacks.
From what I heard, Russia tried at least 40 times this year to reach American counterparts to solve hacking problems allegedly coming from overseas into Russian territory - no response received.
Upon not receiving answers, someone must have hinted their local cyber-warriors - go there and have some fun too, those guys are already having too much of it.
When big-bad-smelly stuff like SCADA systems hit the fan and affect real life of citizens, govs demand cooperation - which they were not willing to have in the first place.
The rest is just PR.
No. The robots kill the robots. Once everyone's run out of killer robots, then the crews get to fight hand-to-hand as God intended. That's the point when you anoint your body with oil, remove all your clothes and charge towards the enemy stark bollock naked screaming. Preferably to the accompaniment of bagpipes.
Well Admiral Turgidson what do you say to that (fiddling with the end of his tie)?
It'd be naive of us, Mr. Prime Minister, to imagine that these new developments would cause a change in Rooski/Chinese expansionist policy. I mean, we must be increasingly on the alert to prevent them taking over other cost sinks, in order to spend more prodigiously than we do. Thus, knocking us out of these superior numbers when we emerge! Mr. Prime Minister, we must not allow a run-away cost gap!