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Ed Jewett
02-02-2010, 03:48 AM
Robocalypse Alert: Defense Contract Awarded to Scary BigDog

BY Kit Eaton (http://www.fastcompany.com/user/148610)Today

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/robocalypse-alert-defense-contract-awarded-scary-bigdog

videos embedded at link



http://images.fastcompany.com/upload/LS3robot.jpg
You remember BigDog (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/boston-dymanics-robots-tiptoe-nearer-terminator), don't you? It's that loud all-terrain prototype robot quadruped that peopled your dreams with Terminator-esque nightmares when you saw the video. DARPA just awarded a $32 million contract to build it.
The contract's been won by maker Boston Dynamics, which has just 30 months to turn the research prototype machines into a genuine load-toting, four-legged, semi-intelligent war robot--"first walk-out" of the newly-designated LS3 is scheduled in 2012.
LS3 stands for Legged Squad Support System, and that pretty much sums up what the device is all about: It's a semi-autonomous assistant designed to follow soldiers and Marines across the battlefield, carrying up to 400 pounds of gear and enough fuel to keep it going for 24 hours over a march of 20 miles.
To remind you of the tech we're talking about, here's BigDog in a disarmingly "cute" promo video, kicking it on a beach in Thailand:

LS3 is a direct descendant of BigDog, and it'll be battle-hardened and clever enough to use GPS and machine vision to either yomp along behind a pack of troops, or navigate its own way to a pre-programmed assembly point. Yup, that's right, LS3 is smart enough to trot off over the horizon all on its lonesome. That opens up all sorts of amazing military possibilities, like resupply of materiel to troops who are deployed in difficult remote locations, as well as the standard "If LS3 can offload 50 pounds from the back of each soldier in a squad, it will reduce warfighter injuries and fatigue and increase the combat effectiveness of our troops" as described by BD's president Marc Raibert.
And its clear that these, and other, potential benefits have been proven to DARPA enough that it's prepared to fund what seems to be an extremely future-focused piece of military hardware. But LS3, of course, stands for much more than its simple "squad support" label would suggest. It's placing artificially-intelligent robots right next to soldiers on the battle field, which is a natural extension of the way robots are currently used in combat--essentially as smart remote control units for situations too dangerous for a human to risk. And in that sense, LS3 is a significant piece of kit. Because it won't be too long before someone considers the benefits of replacing its 400-pound load with a heavy gun, and LS32 becomes an AI-equipped armed battlefield robot. More terminator-dog than K9, you see.
Here's BigDog auto-tracking a human, just to give you an extra robocalyptic chill:


[B]Related Stories:



Boston Dynamics Robots Tiptoe Toward Terminator (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/boston-dymanics-robots-tiptoe-nearer-terminator?nav=inform-rl)
Two Military Robots That Rival the Creepiest Sci-Fi Creatures (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/two-future-military-robots-scare-bezeesus-out-you?nav=inform-rl)
Terminator Tech Isn't as Far-Off as You Think (http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2009/03/terminator-robots.html?nav=inform-rl)

Peter Lemkin
02-02-2010, 07:47 AM
Robocalypse Alert: Defense Contract Awarded to Scary BigDog

BY Kit Eaton (http://www.fastcompany.com/user/148610)Today

http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/robocalypse-alert-defense-contract-awarded-scary-bigdog

videos embedded at link



http://images.fastcompany.com/upload/LS3robot.jpg
You remember BigDog (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/boston-dymanics-robots-tiptoe-nearer-terminator), don't you? It's that loud all-terrain prototype robot quadruped that peopled your dreams with Terminator-esque nightmares when you saw the video. DARPA just awarded a $32 million contract to build it.
The contract's been won by maker Boston Dynamics, which has just 30 months to turn the research prototype machines into a genuine load-toting, four-legged, semi-intelligent war robot--"first walk-out" of the newly-designated LS3 is scheduled in 2012.
LS3 stands for Legged Squad Support System, and that pretty much sums up what the device is all about: It's a semi-autonomous assistant designed to follow soldiers and Marines across the battlefield, carrying up to 400 pounds of gear and enough fuel to keep it going for 24 hours over a march of 20 miles.
To remind you of the tech we're talking about, here's BigDog in a disarmingly "cute" promo video, kicking it on a beach in Thailand:

LS3 is a direct descendant of BigDog, and it'll be battle-hardened and clever enough to use GPS and machine vision to either yomp along behind a pack of troops, or navigate its own way to a pre-programmed assembly point. Yup, that's right, LS3 is smart enough to trot off over the horizon all on its lonesome. That opens up all sorts of amazing military possibilities, like resupply of materiel to troops who are deployed in difficult remote locations, as well as the standard "If LS3 can offload 50 pounds from the back of each soldier in a squad, it will reduce warfighter injuries and fatigue and increase the combat effectiveness of our troops" as described by BD's president Marc Raibert.
And its clear that these, and other, potential benefits have been proven to DARPA enough that it's prepared to fund what seems to be an extremely future-focused piece of military hardware. But LS3, of course, stands for much more than its simple "squad support" label would suggest. It's placing artificially-intelligent robots right next to soldiers on the battle field, which is a natural extension of the way robots are currently used in combat--essentially as smart remote control units for situations too dangerous for a human to risk. And in that sense, LS3 is a significant piece of kit. Because it won't be too long before someone considers the benefits of replacing its 400-pound load with a heavy gun, and LS32 becomes an AI-equipped armed battlefield robot. More terminator-dog than K9, you see.
Here's BigDog auto-tracking a human, just to give you an extra robocalyptic chill:


[B]Related Stories:



Boston Dynamics Robots Tiptoe Toward Terminator (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/boston-dymanics-robots-tiptoe-nearer-terminator?nav=inform-rl)
Two Military Robots That Rival the Creepiest Sci-Fi Creatures (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/kit-eaton/technomix/two-future-military-robots-scare-bezeesus-out-you?nav=inform-rl)
Terminator Tech Isn't as Far-Off as You Think (http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2009/03/terminator-robots.html?nav=inform-rl)


Ah, yes....technology is the service of humankind.....NOT! The future does not look bright unless there is a revolution of values and who runs the Planet in short order....changing it from top-down [domination/war paradigm] to bottom-up [cooperation/sustainable/peace paradigm]. I'd say we have, at most, a window of ten years...closing very fast....:s:

Magda Hassan
02-02-2010, 07:56 AM
http://images.fastcompany.com/upload/LS3robot.jpg

Looks like someone has watched too much star wars movies and can no longer tell fantasy from reality. So in order to deal with this psychopathic fantasist rather than him (and I'm sure it is a him) give up his fantasy reality will be changed.

Ed Jewett
02-02-2010, 08:11 AM
With what I see in DARPA and related fields, Magda, I think you're 10-year window is very optimistic. While I do not pretend to truly understand the predicted, perhaps the Mayans are right.

I have been working a mental theme today of making human contact... the need, the art, the challenge ... and thinking of the movie by that name ... on the day when there is news about planets perhaps in the Alpha Centauri system ... and the news that the US is installing Patriot Missiles to deal with Iranian capabilities... and the work that has been done in inter-species communication... , and the need for trans-species communication, and the movie "2010: The Year We Made Contact" and .... and then I had a brain cramp because I realized it was already 2010.

It's gonna be a race, and a close one.

Down, boy; sit.

Good dog.

Magda Hassan
02-02-2010, 08:24 AM
Don't worry Ed. I spent most of last year under the illusion that it was 2010. All my forms were filled out thus. Was a bit confused around New Year when some one informed me it was actually 2009 (really?) and we were heading into 2010. I'm not sure where 2009 went but my 2010 was quite fair at least for the first half. Some of the wheels did fall off in the second half but they're getting put back on. My suggestion, just change the calendar to 2011 and skip 2010 if it has bad side effects. :laugh:

Ed Jewett
02-02-2010, 09:17 PM
Ooops, I mean Peter, not Magda... :pcguru:

But, hey, we're all in this together, expressing ourselves :thefinger:to the war-mongers ... who remain on some kind of steroidal flush of hormone of destruction as they continue to unleash newer, faster, stronger, smarter dogs of war.

Paging James Douglass... Can someone put a call in to Thomas Merton?

### #### ##### ######

Gates Sacks Stealth Jet Chief,
Blasts ‘Troubling Record’ of Crucial Plane

By Noah Shachtman (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/noah_shachtman/) http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/wp-content/themes/wired/images/envelope.gif (noah.shachtman@gmail.com)
February 1, 2010 |
1:45 pm |
Categories: Air Force (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/category/air-force/)



If the Pentagon doesn’t get its Joint Strike Fighter just right, the U.S. military is screwed. Which is why its a such serious, serious problem this stealthy, all-purpose jet has had such a “troubling performance record,” according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates (http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-10/ff_smartlist_gates). Things have gone so wrong that Gates just announced he’s sacking the head of the star-crossed, nearly $350 billion program and is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in performance fees to JSF-maker Lockheed Martin. “When things go wrong, people will be held accountable,” Gates told reporters.
The Air Force, the Marines, and the Navy are all counting on the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/01/joint-strike-fi/) to serve as its aircraft of the future, replacing everything from the A-10 to the F-16 to the F/A-18. It’s meant to knock out the most advanced missile sites, spot the most elusive terrorists, and win dogfights with the most sophisticated jets from Russia or China — all at a fraction of the price of the much-ballyhooed F-22 Raptor. Gates calls it the “backbone” of “American air superiority.” Without the promise of the JSF, Gates would’ve never convinced Congress to stop production of the Raptor (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/04/ask-bob-gates-a/), the Air Force’s most advanced dogfighter. By the time the program ends, there are supposed to be more than 2,400 of the planes in the American inventory, flying off of aircraft carriers, taking off from a conventional runway, or zipping straight up into the sky.
That is, if the JSF program works as planned. So far, that performance has “not been what it should” Gates said. Total costs have ballooned by more than 45% (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2008/03/jsf-gets-fat/) since the program’s inception. According to some reports, the stealth jet isn’t even that stealthy (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/01/report-joint-st/). Its engines run the risk of burning holes in the decks (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a6gq84TiIFcA&pos=9) of the ships its supposed to lift off from. Final tests for the plane could be pushed back until as late as 2016 (http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=aerospacedaily&id=news/asd/2010/01/21/01.xml&headline=USAF%20Chief%20Downplays%20JSF%20Testing% 20Delay), a two-year delay.
For all these troubles — and more — Gates has fired the JSF program manager, two-star Major General David Heinz. In his place, he’ll install a three-star officer. Gates will hold back $614 million in performance awards to Lockheed Martin — a withholding the defense contractor won’t fight.
The Pentagon will spend $11 billion on the JSF next year, buying 43 planes. That’s about as much as this year’s F-35 purchase. But the program will be restructured, adding 13 more months of research and testing. Gates told the Pentagon press corps that he’s now confident the program will be able to go forward. “There are no insurmountable problems, technological or otherwise,” he said. But such assurances have been made before.


http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/02/gates-sacks-stealth-jet-chief-blasts-troubling-record-of-crucial-plane/#ixzz0ePn29rP8


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Air Force’s Zombie Bomber, Back from the Grave



By Nathan Hodge (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/author/nathanhodge/) http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/wp-content/themes/wired/images/envelope.gif (nohodge@gmail.com)
February 2, 2010 |
11:30 am |
Categories: Air Force (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/category/air-force/)



http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2010/02/lgm_ucas-lgb-660x495.jpg (http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2010/02/lgm_ucas-lgb.jpg)
Last year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates schwacked (http://thune.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=0203f6f8-a260-413a-96dc-5938367a2967&Month=5&Year=2009) the Air Force’s plans to develop a new stealth bomber that would enter service in 2018. Now, it looks like the spirit of Gen. Curtis “bombs away” LeMay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_LeMay) lives on: Over the next five years, the Pentagon will be pouring $4 billion into “long-range strike” options, including a next-generation bomber.
In a press conference yesterday, Gates said the newly unveiled Quadrennial Defense Review (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=57814) (QDR) renewed emphasis on the military’s need to counter “disruptive, high-tech capabilities” developed by future adversaries. Nuclear weapons have long been the primary deterrent against such threats, but the Defense Department also wants non-nuclear options for reaching targets over long distances, and on very short notice.
Gates said investment in a next-gen bomber would be part of a $4 billion package that would also include the development of a conventional, global strike capability – perhaps based on land, or launched from submarines. Briefing reporters after the unveiling of the QDR, Pentagon policy chief Michele Flournoy said the whole thing would begin with a study of options, but cash might start flowing into development as early as Fiscal Year 2012.
“One of the insights that came out of this QDR was that we needed to take a much more in-depth look at the full range of capabilities for long-range ISR and precision-strike, and the whole question of a follow-on strategic bomber,” Flournoy said. “And so one of the things we decided in the QDR is that we weren’t ready to make definitive long-term programmatic decisions; that we wanted to make some investments that would keep technological opportunities going, but we wanted to take some time to get this right and to study it in much more depth. So you will see that study ongoing this coming year, with the aim of putting real dollars into the program in — starting in ‘12.”
Equipping submarines with new, longer-range conventional missiles might be part of the menu of options. Vice Adm. Steve Stanley, director, force structure, resources and assessment on the Joint Staff, said the department was “considering whether or not submarine-based, initial strike would be appropriate.”
Prompt global strike, Stanley said, was “principally about deterrence.” [ :evil::thefinger:] But nukes, he added, “play a role still. Our ability to defeat ballistic missiles, the ballistic-missile defense capabilities of this department, play a role in deterrence. So all of those things taken together give us a deterrent posture that we can deter an adversary.”
Of course, none of this should be particularly surprising to Danger Room readers. As we noted earlier, the Pentagon has plenty of what we called “zombie weapons projects (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/05/zombie-weapon-projects-haunt-the-pentagon-refuse-to-die/)“: Programs that get terminated, yet never really go away. Last year, for instance, Air Force thinkers forwarded (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/06/unleash-the-nuclear-armed-robo-bombers-air-force-researcher-says/) a number of ideas for saving the next-gen bomber, including something called a nuclear-dedicated unmanned combat aerial vehicle, or ND-UCAV, a robotic plane that might be based on the Navy’s X-47B carrier-capable drone, pictured here.

Refitting subs with conventionally-armed Trident missiles for some hot global strike action is another one of those ideas that refuses to go away. Sounds like a nice, practical idea, right? Well, Noah has written extensively about the risks of modifying Tridents for the global strike mission — and the enormous controversy the idea has generated. As he noted, making it easier for the president to launch a (conventional) intercontinental ballistic missile attack is not necessarily a good thing. That’s why Congress has blocked or severely restricted (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2007/03/missile_mania_j/) the conventional Trident program, over and over again.
For starters, you had better be sure that no one mistakes it for a nuclear attack. And your intel needs to be rock-solid. “Our ability to nail down that kind of quality information is patchy, at best,” he wrote (http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4203874.html?page=2) in Popular Mechanics. “On March 19, 2003, the United States launched 40 cruise missiles at three locations outside Baghdad in hopes of killing Saddam Hussein and other senior military officials. It turned out the former Iraqi leader wasn’t in any of the locations; the strikes killed at least a dozen people, although it’s not clear if they were civilians or leadership targets.”


Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/02/air-forces-zombie-bomber-back-from-the-grave/#ixzz0ePnWkv0g

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Pentagon Black Budget Sees Year Over Year Record Funding; Tops $56 Billion (http://cryptogon.com/?p=13460)


http://cryptogon.com/?p=13460

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The administration on Monday asked Congress for more than $7 billion for activities related to nuclear weapons in the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, [I]an increase of $624 million from the 2010 fiscal year.

http://cryptogon.com/?p=13457

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Budgets, War and Blind Ambition: The Limited Minds of the American Elite (http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/1919-budgets-war-and-blind-ambition-the-limited-minds-of-the-american-elite.html) Written by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 13:56

The American elite's unbounded, unquestioned, indeed unconscious sense of imperial entitlement and dominance -- based ultimately on war, the threat of war and the profit from war -- is one of the defining characteristics of our age....

http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/1919-budgets-war-and-blind-ambition-the-limited-minds-of-the-american-elite.html

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http://howtosavetheworld.ca/2010/02/01/why-is-community-so-hard/

Ed Jewett
02-04-2010, 03:00 AM
The Pentagon Runs Amok
Obama is letting the generals and contractors roll over him

by Dan Simpson

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17384

It is not possible to believe that it is coincidence that just as the Pentagon is being called upon to justify its immunity from the across-the-board budget freeze that President Barack Obama is declaring for the federal government, at least three provocative U.S. arms sales have been announced -- to Taiwan, Poland and four Persian Gulf states.
The announcements were clearly scheduled to provoke, respectively, China, Russia and Iran. Each will now bark loudly, and perhaps take retaliatory action. Their responses will, in turn, serve as justification by the Pentagon for the 7.1 percent increase in proposed defense spending, even as painful cuts are being administered in other fields.
The other beneficiaries of this move will be the defense contractors -- the happy band of manufacturers and trainers and their lobbyists -- into the ranks of which many senior military officers and Pentagon officials retire once their active duty days are done.
The timing is extraordinary, if one had any inclination to consider it to be coincidental. The other "coincidental" development was the failure -- again -- of the missile-defense system in a $150 million trial that took place Sunday. That system, a dog that has been around for years, cleverly conceived and presented as an umbrella over the United States and some of its allies against Iranian or North Korean missiles, has two basic problems. First, it is expensive. Second, it doesn't work, although those two flaws do not necessarily deter Pentagon planners or defense contractors.
The three newly announced arms sales were surer bets, in the sense that each is sure to alarm or enrage some serious country.
The biggest sale, announced Friday, and the most serious in terms of impact, is a plan to sell $6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan. China considers Taiwan to be part of China. The island will receive from the United States 60 Black Hawk helicopters, 114 missile-defense rockets, 12 anti-ship missiles and two mine-hunting vessels, as well as communications and surveillance equipment.
The timing of the U.S. announcement -- unless the furious Chinese reaction is seen as helping the Pentagon's budgetary case with the Congress -- would seem to be particularly unpropitious.
The United States is asking China to sign on to sanctions against Iran. It continues to rely on China to keep North Korea in line. Mr. Obama's new initiative to double U.S. exports is dependent on China's adjusting its currency, a step it is reluctant to take in any case. And in general, China's relations with Taiwan have been improving steadily, tending more toward enhanced commercial ties, as opposed to military competition. The new U.S. arms sales would seem to cut counter to this evolution of relations and must have been a difficult decision for the Taipei government to take, one certainly encouraged by U.S. defense equipment exporters.
The Chinese reaction will probably not be pleasant for the United States. It immediately is likely to exclude U.S. companies involved in the sale, such as Boeing, from operating in China. It also will cut for the time being military-to-military contacts with the United States, and perhaps others. The most serious action China can take -- one which it was already moving toward -- is a reduction in its purchases of U.S. debt. That would have a grave initial and then secondary impact on the U.S. economy.
It would mean, first, that the U.S. government would have to pay higher interest rates to borrow the cash necessary to cover its enormous, growing budget deficits. Second -- and probably most serious -- it would mean that the U.S. government would have to compete in U.S. financial markets to a greater degree for the capital needed to restart the engines of American industry.
That is absolutely the last thing that the Obama administration needs at this point. It makes one wonder how much pressure was put on Mr. Obama by defense industry lobbyists to obtain authorization for the arms sales to Taiwan -- or worse, whether he understood what he was doing.
The second arms deal was made public when Poland announced that the United States would sell it surface-to-air missiles for deployment 35 miles from the Russian border by April. Russia has consistently opposed such U.S. action, considering it provocative and inconsistent with Mr. Obama's declaration of his intention to reset relations with Russia. Where and how Russia's reaction will come is not yet known, although cooperation on sanctions against Iran and/or the signing of a new arms reduction treaty may now be out the window.
The third major arms deal announced in recent days was that the United States will sell Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and perhaps other Arab Persian Gulf states new anti-missile defense systems, targeted against nearby Iran.
Apart from the financial aspects of the deal for companies like Raytheon, the theory is that the new weapons will make the Gulf states more comfortable hosting the U.S. military installations already on their territory.
The theory also is that Israel will be more comfortable with U.S. missile-defense systems in the Gulf to protect it from Iranian retaliation if Israel were to bomb Iranian nuclear installations. This theory is severely flawed in that Israel could equally well conclude that it now can attack Iran with less risk of Iranian retaliation against America's allies in the Gulf. The easy way to prevent Israel from starting a major Middle East war by attacking Iran is simply to tell it that the United States will not come to its rescue if it does so and then finds that it can't handle the Iranian counterattack.
The budget line for defense stands at $708 billion, 53 percent of discretionary spending, eight times more than the next largest item, health and human services. Does that reflect America's priorities? Is that who we are?
Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (dsimpson@post-gazette.com (dsimpson@post-gazette.com), 412 263-1976).


[Paging Mr. Douglass, Mr. Douglass, please...
call the house operator and ask her to start a pinned thread labelled The 'Unspeakable' Watch.]