Thursday, November 10, 2011

Could pilotless drones help to fulfil end-time prophecy?

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?...
...And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world...
...And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Revelation 13: 4, 7-8, 11-15

Nat Hentoff wrote on the subject of pilotless drones in his WorldNet Daily column of November 8, 2011. I find it interesting that Mr. Hentoff, who professes to be an atheist, speculates on the possibility of Americans following a robot president:

But there are experts who believe that there are indeed people who can create ethical, responsible robots. Enter Ronald C. Arkin, author of "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots." Among his credentials: This study was financed by the U.S. Army Research Office. Don't you trust the judgment of that official government level of validation?

Arkin, assures the Washington Post and us that "lethal autonomy is inevitable," robots having graduated from science fiction into real-time existence; competing with human chess champions, for one widely publicized example. But on the warfare level we're discussing, Arkin, reports Finn, "believes it is possible to build ethical military drones and robots, capable of using deadly force while programmed to adhere to international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement. "He said software can be created that would lead machines to return fire with proportionality, minimize collateral damage, recognize surrender, and, in the case of uncertainty, maneuver to reassess or wait for a human assessment."

If you are still skeptical, Lora G. Weiss, chief scientist at Georgia Tech Research Institute, adds: "How a war-fighting unit may think – we are trying to make our systems behave like that."

Is it possible, then, that eventually we'll have such corrosive distrust of our incompetent government, as we have come to know it, that we will put our faith in a robotic president so precisely and totally connected to the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution that we will have no reason to doubt it?

You think I'm kidding? I sure hope so. I am glad to introduce Johann Borenstein, in charge of the Mobile Robotics Lab at the University of Michigan.

He tells the Washington Post that human skills will remain critical in battle far into the future, emphasizing: "The foremost of all skills is common sense. Robots don't have common sense and won't have common sense in the next 50 years, or however long one might want to guess."

But how long will future generations want to guess? In any case, why now, President Barack Obama, is it wise to conduct our warfare against terrorists who may ultimately have pilotless technology to kill us? And beyond the next election, what will future presidents think of saving the lives of our human soldiers by depending on soulless robotic drones?

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