5G, satellites, and the increasing use of technology in the oceans (aka the Internet of Underwater Things or “Smart Oceans”) together enable the modernization of 21st century warfare by means of Systems Warfare. Systems warfare relies on a vast infrastructure of satellites, cell towers, antennas, sensors, and cameras that “vacuum up” as much data as possible. The sheer quantity of data is more than humans can make sense of and that wireless bandwidth can manage. So, the data is aggregated, sorted and sifted through by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine what is of value, how it can be combined, and to whom it should be directed. Command and Control (still predominantly manned by humans but increasingly being outsourced to machines) then sets the parameters for the data it will need for defense or offense in a given operation. Within seconds, “thanks” to systems warfare, the data supporting military aggression is “actionable.”
Secretary Robert O. Work, Senior Fellow for Defense and National Security at the Center for a New American Security and owner of TeamWork, a company that specializes in national security affairs and the future of warfare, states:
The US Department of Defense dubs this connected system of systems the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and “boasts” it will increase the lethality of war by enabling near real time communications, hypersonic missiles, spy systems, and Facial Recognition Technology. JADC2 will provide a vast communication network that will weave together all branches of the military – the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force. The stated aim is for the US to gain dominion over space for both commercial and military advantage; for whoever controls the “high ground” (space) controls the “low ground” (Earth) as well. NATO, China, Russia and other countries are pressing for 5G and satellites as well.
Further Resources on 5G, Satellites and the Military:
Thousands of 5G Satellites Pose Risk of Future Space Wars
National Defense Strategy: Lethality
How DOD is taking its Mission to Space
The Space Force wants to use directed-energy systems for space superiority
Defend the Earth, Not Arms Dealers
British military launches its own Space Command with official opening
Lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) are weapon systems that rely on artificial intelligence to identify, target, and kill humans without human control or intervention. Algorithms, not humans, make decisions.
LAWS are currently under development in many countries and may increasingly be used by state and non-state actors.
Lethal autonomous weapons are small, cheap to produce, and easy to assemble. When scaled (e.g. thousands of integrated drones), they can arguably be considered weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as they can wipe out an entire city in one coordinated attack. Because LAWS operate (i.e. communicate and make decisions) at speeds beyond human capabilities, the potential for undetected errors escalating is increased many times over. LAWS also can be easily hacked into adding yet another layer of danger.
LAWS have no human involvement beyond the initial launch of the action. Semi autonomous weapons (so-called “fire and forget”) keep the human in the loop by having a human select the target. Both LAWS and Semi-AWS are enabled and “enhanced” by the 5G/satellite/data harvesting/AI juggernaut. As there are currently no internationally agreed upon laws around either LAWS or Semi-AWS, and the lethality and scalability is so great that autonomous strikes may change the nature of war rendering everywhere on earth a potential “war zone”.
Drone swarms are not a collective of identical drones, but rather form a single, and more potent weapon system or “mind” that is integrated and communicates through 5G-enabled artificial intelligence. Some drones survey and search for targets, others’ mission is to destroy buildings, and yet others are tasked with killing. Working together, the whole is more treacherous than the sum of its parts.
Autonomous weapon systems can be used in combination with chemical or biological weapons increasing the lethality of both.
A dystopian future is predicted in Slaughterbots, if LAWS remain unregulated and autonomous weapons and robotics are allowed to gain a foothold in the world.
Even with semi autonomous weapon systems such as drones, the distance and sterility of an assassination brings untold suffering to the victims of an attack, and eats away at the conscience and humanity of the perpetrator of the violence. The number of people injured or killed in drone attacks, and the extent of suffering is not fully known as wreckage from drone attacks is so great, bodies cannot be counted. Hear from former drone pilots:
Former Drone Pilots Denounce ‘Morally Outrageous’ Program | NBC News (2015)
Thankfully, developers of AI are putting enormous pressure on governments to ban the use of autonomous weapon systems. But given that these systems are so easy to develop and launch, a ban might be a moot point in an all-things-connected, data-on-steroids, AI-centric 5G world.
Our taxes fund the development of lethal autonomous weapon systems. Our cellphones and all our connected things and devices generate data that “feed” AI. We ourselves may be victims of an LAWS attack? Should we not have a say?
Further Resources on Autonomous Weapon Systems:
Lethal Autonomous Weapons
KARGU – Autonomous Tactical Multi-Rotor Attack UAV
THE QUESTION OF SWARMS CONTROL: CHALLENGES TO ENSURING HUMAN CONTROL OVER MILITARY SWARMS | EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium
This Armored Drone Killer Could Cook Enemy Swarms Out of the Sky
Meet the future weapon of mass destruction, the drone swarm
Stuart Russell and Zachary Kallenborn on Drone Swarms and the Riskiest Aspects of Lethal Autonomous Weapons
Former Drone Pilots Denounce ‘Morally Outrageous’ Program | NBC News (2015)
Defense Primer: U.S. Policy on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems | Congressional Research Services
Why We Should Ban Lethal Autonomous Weapons
Israel’s Drone Swarm Over Gaza Should Worry Everyone. It’s time global leaders set new rules for these future weapons already being used to kill
Spaceports, aka cosmodrome and launching pads are sites built for launching space vehicles into orbit. These complexes are expansive as they often house one or more launching sites, storage and production facilities, and runways. Rocket launching sites are most often built away from populated areas and near a body of water, so in the event of an explosion, human lives won’t be endangered. Wildlife is not factored in. This results in pristine areas in nature often being targeted for these complexes.
Communities that live on lands being converted to launching pads, are mounting massive campaigns to hold onto their land. Once a single launching site is established, it multiplies. Boca Chica, Texas, which started with one, is now up to six. Battles between satellite companies seeking permits to build, and rural communities and environmentalists opposing these new sites, are being reiterated around the globe. See,
Papuan Island in Indonesia being targeted by SpaceX
Rocket Lab in Mahia, New Zealand
Kodiak Island, Alaska, targeted jointly by the Israeli and the US Pentagon.
The A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland, Scotland, targeted by London based Orbex.
Boca Chica, Texas being targeted by SpaceX:
SpaceX Destroys Habitat Of Endangered Species, Defies Federal Approval Process
Further Resources on Spaceports:
The nuclear industry views space as a new—and wide open—market for their toxic product that has run its dirty course on Mother Earth. – Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. http://13147359.sites.myregisteredsite.com/blog/report-urges-nuclear-rockets-lays-out-synergies-between-nasa-and-military/
Since the 1960s, space exploration has relied on liquid fueled propellent and solar to power vehicles to, from, and in space. As we stretch the limits of space exploration to farther planets and increase our presence in space, these energy sources no longer suffice due to insufficient speeds obtained from liquid fuels, extreme weather conditions, and extended lunar nights on other planets (e.g., no sunlight on Mars for two weeks at a time).
Despite the potential dangers from accidents, collisions, and leakage, radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) aka nuclear reactors powered by Plutonium-238 (a deadly chemical even in minute quantities) are increasingly being used for missions to distant parts of the solar system.
The US is planning to build a nuclear power plant on the moon by 2024 to supply electrical energy to support a human presence on the moon and beyond. This nuclear fission reactor will run on split uranium-235 atoms similar to power plants on Earth. Will it be used to enhance 5G capabilities and the militarization of space or “just” for exploration and mining?
Further Resources on Nuclear Power in Space:
Science Committee hearing: ‘Accelerating Deep Space Travel with Space Nuclear Propulsion’
Dual Use Technology refers to the use of a given technology and/or infrastructure for both civilian and military applications. For example, GPS was developed originally for the military but then adapted to commercial and consumer uses such as navigation and mapping.
Commercial 5G infrastructure and satellites will be used by the military to cut costs while adding to the streams of data available for AI on the “battlefield.” SpaceX, among other private companies, is teaming up with the military to provide dual use satellite connection for the military via its Starlink broadband internet program. The result is that customers who subscribe to Starlink’s internet service are unknowingly funding the weaponization of space, above and beyond taxpayer money used to fund war.
Dual Use Technology comes with built in ambiguity. A rocket or vehicle developed for one purpose, say, space travels or exploration, could double as a vehicle for surveillance or intelligence, or could even be used as a weapon. This confusion could lead to false assumptions about the actions and intentions of other nations, potentially igniting a cascade of retaliatory actions in space.