When the US Defence Secretary signed the deliciously named directive 3000.09, he was, in effect, launching the world’s first national policy on killer robots.
The purpose of the directive is split in two and reads like this:
a.Establishes DoD policy and assigns responsibilities for the development and use of autonomous and semi – autonomous functions in weapon systems, including manned and unmanned platforms.
b. Establishes guidelines designed to minimize the probability and consequences of failures in autonomous and semi – autonomous
weapon systems that could lead to unintended engagements.”
So basically, it’s about who get to develop killer robots, and who we get to point the blame at, should the killer robots go all Robocop 2 on everyone.
It was released last year, but according to a thourhgly researched and very interesting article in the rather niche publication Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the policy actually:
“[…] fully supports developing, testing, and using the technology, without delay. Far from applying the brakes, the policy in effect overrides longstanding resistance within the military, establishes a framework for managing legal, ethical, and technical concerns, and signals to developers and vendors that the Pentagon is serious about autonomous weapons.”
What this means is that not only are we likely to see various arms manufacturers enter a race to build real versions of the No. 5 Robot from Short Circuit (minus the actual short circuiting and evolving feelings from jumping on a frog), but that one piece of legislation has achieved the nigh on impossible feat of horrifying human rights organisations and military drone operators at the same time. .
A recent story by Reuters details how the Pentagon’s payment system is heavily reliant on COBOL computer code, much of which is about 50 years old – seven million lines of Cobol code basically decides who gets paid.
And the code hasn’t been updated in the last 10 years or more….
While this is, of course, worrying for a lot of service personnel, many of whom have been on the receiving end of the mistakes made by the system, it’s probably good news for people worried about whether or not the system can be hacked.
As the Defense Joint Military Pay System, the office responsible for overseeing the system told Reuters:
“As time passes, the pool of Cobol expertise dwindles.”
The Pentagon have released a new report on cyber espionage that points an accusing finger at China.
“China is using its computer network exploitation (CNE) capability to support intelligence collection against the US diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support US national defense programs,” the report says.
“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the US government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” the report continued.
Although it’s hard to know with any certainty, part of the reason for China’s more and more brazen hacking activities might be that there aren’t any international rules that determine how the US, or other countries for that matter, can react to a cyber attack.
In keeping with it’s track record (if not the times) the Pentagon has mulled it over and decided that the Android operating system for mobile phones is pretty OK.
What that means is that the American Department of Defence (DoD) has decided that it is OK for its employees to use smart phones that use the Android system.
However, the DoD has limited the approval to Dell equipment running Android 2.2. Funnily enough, Dell recently discontinued its production of the Streak mobile phone that ran on the Android 2.2 system.
Instead Dell is now offering a sort of downgraded version of its Dell Venue phone.
All of this has left Apple gnashing its teeth, as the mobile giant has missed out on a potentially very big contract (the US DoD employs a total of more than three million people). It is, however, Apple’s own fault.
The company’s iPhone actively tracks the movement of the phone through embedded GPS chips. Not exactly the smartest thing, if someone were ever to figure out how to tap into the information.
Imagine James Bond’s enemies following his every move on a computer screen, just because he had the wrong mobile phone. Actually, with the current endorsement deals in the Bond movies, that scenario would actually be – sort of – realistic.
Bond: Yeah, they always know where I am, but what am I supposed to do? Steve Jobs would kill me if I threw away the iPhone he gave me and just used my old, tr