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Roman Kamyk
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"The house is on fire, Trump is running around with a box of matches, and the GOP demands to know who called the fire department."

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Trump protects Americans

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An Arms Race Humanity Won't Win

2012 Pentagon Directive 3000.09 -- which required a human being to be in the loop in all lethal decisions -- is set to expire later this year when its five-year limit runs out. That means Donald Trump will decide whether the U.S. continues along its current stance—caution—or abandons the guidelines that the directive lays out.

"Countries like China and Russia continue to forge ahead with the development of drones and autonomous systems, for fear of falling behind others. And most countries actively engaged in the research and development of these systems have not formulated policies or military doctrines akin to Directive 3000.09. There is, in fact, no international consensus governing how autonomous technology can be developed or weaponized. If Trump abandons Directive 3000.09, it will only add to this void."

The result would be a robotic arms race, with human beings losing no matter which country comes out on top.

Proponents of lethal autonomy are wrong when they say the autonomous robotic weapons will protect us. They will instead protect the interests of those who control them -- unwisely concentrating power and making it unaccountable. In that sense, robotic weapons don't need to go out of control to imperil democracy. They can do so even if they do precisely what they're designed to do.

And in the absence of international cooperation, the provocations of non-state actors using robotic weapons will only increase the likelihood that the robotic arms race will escalate. "With the large number of drones now available on commercial markets they’re making their way into the hands of non-state actors... What once may have been a hypothetical no longer is."

Let's not turn war over to algorithms. The primary risk is not­ of accidentally building Skynet but of creating a techno-empowered despotism, where the cooperation of other human beings is no longer necessary to wage all-out war. That would be a defeat for representative government everywhere.

#Drones #RoboticWeapons

Posted THUR Mar 16, 2017 (1.10 pm) 

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I heard a discussion on the radio today about the recruitment problems facing the judiciary. There aren't enough suitable candidates for high-court positions and above.

Hmm. I can tell you the exact moment when I lost my chance of becoming a high court judge: 11:15am on 10th January, 1960 — the moment I was born.

In my case, I lost my chance because I was born into the lower working class. In the case of other people who had it luckier classwise, they lost out because of their gender, a congenital disability, or parents from the wrong part of the world. No wonder there's a shortage of highly-experienced judges today when the recruitment pool was so small at the time they would need to have been born.

Times are changing. I finally did claw my way into a position of social respectability, but I'm now stereotyped as an old, white guy who can't die soon enough so society can move on. I'm reminded of Hilary Clinton, who had the right class but the wrong gender: she played by the rules, beat the odds until she got her crack at authority, only to find that the rules had changed and the assets she thought she had accumulated were almost overnight turned into liabilities. For other people, such rule flips can help: in the past, ageing actresses didn't used to get starring roles because prettier, younger actresses got them instead, but nowadays they have a much better chance (even if they themselves only got name recognition because they started out as one of those prettier, younger actresses who took a job from someone who, back then, was like they are now).

Whether prevailing social forces work for or against you in future could be as capricious as the accident of birth that defined my opportunities when I was born. Even if you're born into wealth and privilege, you only have to say one thing on social media that you might regret moments later or that can be taken out of context and you could be marked for life. Then again, maybe society will switch and you'll be lauded for your independence. Things are changing so quickly that it's hard to predict what will happen. If you want to get into politics, do you join a Labour party that could implode, or do you join the Liberal Democrats or Greens in the hope they'll replace them, or do you join the Conservatives on the grounds that the party will have to adapt to match changes in society and that by the time you've risen through the ranks you'll have become more conservative with age anyway? It's a tough time to be in your teens or twenties.

I think I would have made a good judge, because the law is like programming. I can't say I'd necessarily have enjoyed it, though — you have to deal with too many people for my taste.

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Outrage makes money, so it's only logical that there are now media companies like 'American News LLC' that run news outlets for opposite ends of the political spectrum.

They take real news or create fake ones, and make sure they're worded in a way that makes their target audience furious (and that agrees with the audience's world view).

The naive response is "well, people will just stop reading those after they find out they're being fed bullshit". That hasn't been the case.

I've seen very clever and otherwise-rational people share completely fake stories from sites like RussiaToday, just because they told about something that enraged them and that 'verified' their suspicions. When you try to correct the obvious lie, it's too late. The audience is already sold on the 'alternative fact', and cognitive dissonance makes them perform logical acrobatics (e.g. "the data doesn't match what I believe, therefore it's fake", or "it's just mainstream media propaganda" or "it's a powerful lobby of scientists with hidden agenda" or "Putin may be a war-mongering autocrat but Obama didn't close Guantanamo so it's all even").

What I'm saying is: this won't fix itself, and it's more complex than most people realize.

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Daniel Bogan runs a site called that does interviews with different people from all kinds of professions about their "work setup" (everything from computer scientists to chefs to beekeepers). He asked me if I'd participate, and here's the result:

Browing the other interviews is kind of fun just to hear about what tools are useful for other professions:

Thanks for running this site, Daniel!
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