Robot Warriors Kick Human A*s

This is one incredible parody video of what robotic warriors of the future will be able to do. 



The robot takes an incredible beating and never misses a shot!



They even hit him numerous times with a battering ram for Pete’s sake. 



Also, amazed that none of the actors in this video ended up taking a bullet or two. 



Wow, the future is going to be amazing. 😉



(Thank you to my wonderful son-in-law for sending this to me)

Losing Trust In What We Need Most, Each Other

Group

Last month, The Daily Beast (2 April 2012) ran a interesting article on “Why Humans, Like Ants, Need [To Belong] To A Tribe.”

Throughout history, people have joined and held allegiance to groups and institutions “to get visceral comfort and pride from familiar fellowship.”

Belonging is a familiar way to get social connection, meaning, and to make the environment “less disorienting and dangerous.”
Essentially, what this means it that we stand stronger together than we do alone and apart.

Today, people search for “like-minded friends, and they yearn to be in the one of the best” groups–from elite fighting forces like our special operations to Ivy League universities, Fortune 500 companies, religious sects, and fraternities–we all want to be part of the best, brightest, and most powerful collectives.

On one hand, tribing is positive, in terms of the close friendships, networks, and associations we form and the problems that we can confront together.

Yet on the other hand, it can be highly negative in terms of bias, distrust, rivalry, outright hostility, and even open warfare that can ensure.

The downside to tribes occurs because their members are prone to ethnocentrism–belief that one’s own group is superior to another and is more deserving of success, money, and power, while everyone else in the “out-groups” are deemed inferior, undeserving and worthy of only the leftovers.

The negative side of tribes can manifest in the proverbial old-boys club at work looking out for each other to people associating hyper-closely with their favorite sports team and their symbolic victories and losses.

Despite the risks of tribes, we have a strong innate genetic and cultural disposition to groups and institutions and the many benefits they can bring to us, so it is sad to see as The Atlantic reports (21 April 2012), that Americans have “lost trust in one another and the institutions that are supposed to hold us together.”

The article states that the reasons for this are that we’ve been “battered by unbridled commercialism, stymied by an incompetent government beholden to special interests, and flustered by new technology and new media.”

The result is that “seven in 10 Americans believe the country is on the wrong track; eight in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed.”

So there is now a historical break from trusting in our affiliations, institutions, and government to one represented by the motto of “In nothing we trust.”

Instead of turning to each other and bonding together to solve large and complex problems, there is the potential that “people could disconnect, refocus, inward, and turn away from their social contract.”

Not having a tribe is worse than working through the difficult issues associated with affiliation–a society of alienated people is not better!

When people no longer feel bonded to institutions and the rules and governance they provide, we have a potential social meltdown.

This should of deep concern to everyone, because no man is an island.

We can see this alienation in action as people withdraw from real world social interaction to spending more and more time online in the virtual world.

Although there is some measure of interaction on social networks, the connections are at arms-length; when it gets inconvenient, we can just log off.

One might argue that people are still affiliated with stakeholder-driven organizations and institutions (the government, the workplace, religion, etc.), but unfortunately these are being seen as having been usurped by false prophets and marketing types who who will say whatever it takes to get the popular nod and the job, and by fraudulent leaders who are in it to take far more than they ever planned to give.

What needs to happen now is to re-institute belief in the group by insisting on leaders that have integrity and a governance process underpinned by accountability, transparency, and diversity. 
 
To get out of our web of socio-economic problems, group trust and affiliation is vital to solving problems together.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to CraigTaylor1974)
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Robots Are Not Just For Fighting

“The AlphaDog Proto is a lab prototype for the Legged Squad Support System [LS3], a robot being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. When fully developed the system will carry 400 lbs of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain. The first version of the complete robot will be completed in 2012.”
According to Boston Dynamics, AlphaDog will follow a leader with computer vision or travel via GPS to designated locations. 
The video shows a truly amazing display of the robot galloping, traversing obstacles, recovering from being pushed, and even rolling over and getting up from a supine position. 
 AlphaDog is designed as a true workhorse and resembles something more out of a Mad Max movie than what you would think of as supporting our next generation war fighters. Note: I’ll take a flying hovercraft with pinpoint fire laser ray beams over a 4-legged robot workhorse any day!  🙂
But with the array of sensors and weapons supported by drones flying overhead and robotics sentries on the ground, and 4-legged robots ferrying supplies to the front lines, the battlefield is quickly changing to man and machine fighting side by side, and maybe one day machines fighting in lieu of people. 
While MIT Technology Review states “This is just what soldiers need,” I’m interested in seeing future applications of these robots not just for the military, but also in terms of how they will change areas such as law enforcement, fire and rescue, construction, assembly-line production, transportation, medicine, service industries, and more.  
Robots are not just for fighting, although it looks like AlphaDog could give anyone a good kick in the teeth and keep on lugging its load. 

Robot Fighters Coming Soon

Maars
I love keeping up with the latest in robotics, especially when it comes to battlefield versions.
The Wall Street Journal (19 August 2011) featured QinetiQ’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) today as “America’s Newest Soldiers.”
MAARS features tank treads, days and night vision cameras, a 4-barrel 40mm high-explosive grenade launcher, and a M240B 7.62mm machine gun.
“It can stand sentry at a checkpoint and warn people away with a police style hailer, a nonblinding laser, tear gas or smoke grenades.  As a last resort, it can fire lethal rounds.”
Watching this thing, I imagine the D Day landings in Normandy would’ve looked a lot different with a swarm of these fellows landing on those bullet-riddled beaches.
The nature of the fight is changing and whoever stands in front of one of these armed robots (and even better next generation versions to come) better be prepared to say “bye bye, it was nice knowing you.”  😉
(Source Photo: here)

SIMON Says Open

Discovery Channel has a series called Future Weapons.
This is part 1 from Israel and Richard (Mack) Mackowicz, a former Navy SEAL show us “The SIMON.”
SIMON is a high-tech, advanced rifle grenade for breaching virtually any door in hostile environments.  
It is made by Rafael, one of the largest and most innovative Israeli arms manufacturers.  
SIMON is in use by both U.S. and Israel armed forces. 
Essentially, a bullet-trap slides over the muzzle of a conventional assault rifle like an M-16. 
A regular bullet propels a grenade up to 30 yards into a door, and the blast wave from the detonation breaches the door and any locking mechanisms–with minimum collateral damage and keeping troops out of harms way. 
Breaching doors in urban warfare is one of the most dangerous tasks in any mission as troops may be walking into anything from the spray of gunfire to booby traps.
Well as Mack says: “SIMON says open door;” It is an “instantaneous key to any door.”
What I like about SIMON is the combination of its simplicity and effectiveness. 
On one hand, it works with conventional rifles and bullets and is light and compact to carry. It’s as simple as slide, aim, and shoot–and the door is breached for troops to enter and either rescue hostages or get the bad guy. 
With whatever technology we are building–whether computers or weapons–they need to be user-centric and mission focused. 
Israel has a history of innovation–everything from defense to medicine and making the desert bloom–and I think this has to do with that their survival is constantly imperiled. 
The lesson is that we ought to recognize the dangers out there and respond to them with immediacy and vigor, as if our lives depended on it–because in many cases, they really do. 

>Overcoming the Obstacles to Cyber Security

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There continues to be a significant shortfall in our cyber security capabilities, and this is something that needs our determined efforts to rectify.

Often I hear a refrain from IT specialists that we can’t wait with security until the end of a project, but rather we need to “bake it into it” from the beginning. And while this is good advice, it is not enough to address the second-class status that we hold for IT security versus other IT disciplines such as applications development or IT infrastructure provision. Cyber Security must be elevated to safeguard our national security interests.

Here are some recent statements from some our most respected leaders in our defense establishment demonstrating the dire strait of our IT security posture:

· “We’re the most vulnerable, we’re the most connected, we have the most to lose, so if we went to war today in a cyber war, we would lose.”- Retired Vice Admiral Mike Mullen (Federal Computer Week 24 February 2010)

· The United States is “under cyber-attack virtually all the time, every day” – Defense Secretary Robert Gates: (CBS, 21 April 2009)

· “The globally-interconnected digital information and communications infrastructure known as “cyberspace” underpins almost every facet of modern society and provides critical support for the U.S. economy, civil infrastructure, public safety, and national security. This technology has transformed the global economy and connected people in ways never imagined. Yet, cybersecurity risks pose some of the most serious economic and national security challenges of the 21st Century.” (White House CyberSpace Policy Review, 2009)

Further, the number of attacks is increasing; for example, SC Magazine 20 November 2009 reported that the number of cyber attacks against the Department of Defense was increasing year-over-year 2009 to 2008 by some 60%!

And the penetration of our critical systems spans our industrial, civilian, and defense establishment and even crosses international boundaries. Most recently reported, these included the following:

· F-35 Joint Strike Fighter $300B program at Lockheed Martin,

· The Space Shuttle designs at NASA

· The joint U.S. South Korean defense strategy

· The Predator feeds from Iraq and Afghanistan and more.

Thankfully, these events have not translated down en-masse and with great pain to the individuals in the public domain. However this is a double-edged sword, because on one had, as citizens we are not yet really “feeling the pain” from these cyber attacks. On the other hand, the issue is not taking center stage to prevent further and future damage.

This past week, I had the honor to hear Mr. James Gossler, a security expert from Sandia National Labs speak about the significant cyber security threats that we face at MeriTalk Innovation Nation 2010 on the Edge Computing panel that I was moderating.

For example, Mr. Gossler spoke about how our adversaries were circumventing our efforts to secure our critical cyber security infrastructure by being adept and agile at:

· Playing strength to weakness

· Developing surprising partners (in crime/terror)

· Changing the rules (“of the game”)

· Attacking against our defenses that are “naïve or challenged”

In short, Mr. Gossler stated that “the current state-of-the-art in information assurance [today] is significantly outmatched” by our adversaries.

And with all the capabilities that we have riding on and depending on the Internet now a days from financial services to health and transportation to defense, we do not want to be outgunned by cyber criminals, terrorists, or hostile nation states threatening and acting in ways to send us back to the proverbial “stone-age.”

Unfortunately, as a nation we are not moving quickly enough to address these concerns as retired Navy vice admiral Mike McConnell was quoted in Federal Computer Week: “We’re not going to do what we need to do; we’re going to have a catastrophic event [and] the government’s role is going to change dramatically and then we’re going to go to a new infrastructure.”

Why wait for a cyber Pearl Harbor to act? We stand forewarned by our experts, so let us act now as a nation to defend cyber space as a free and safe domain for us to live and thrive in.

There are a number of critical obstacles that we need to overcome:

1) Culture of CYA—we wait for disaster, because no one wants to come out first—it’s too difficult to justify.

2) Security is seen as an impediment, rather than a facilitator—security is often viewed by some as annoying and expensive with a undefined payback, and that it “gets in our way” of delivering for our customers, rather than as a necessity for our system to work

3) We’ve become immune from being in a state of perpetual bombardment—similar to after 9-11, we tire as human beings to living in a state of fear and maintaining a constant state of vigilance.

Moreover, to increase our cyber security capabilities, we need to elevate the role of cyber security by increasing our commitment to it, funding for it, staffing of it, training in it, tools to support it, and establishing aggressive, but achievable goals to advance our capabilities and conducting ongoing performance measurement on our initiatives to drive results.

>Turning the Tables on Terrorists

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Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md) said that an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)—“it would bring down the whole [electrical] grid and cost between $1 trillion to $2 trillion” to repair with full recovery taking up to 10 years!

“It sounds like a science-fiction disaster: A nuclear weapon is detonated miles above the Earth’s atmosphere and knocks out power from New York City to Chicago for weeks, maybe months. Experts and lawmakers are increasing warning that terrorists or enemy nation state could wage that exact type of attack, idling electricity grids and disrupting everything from communications networks to military defenses…such an attack would halt banking, transportation, food, water, and emergency services and might result in the defeat of our military forces.” (Federal Times—September 21, 2009)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says “the U.S. is ill-prepared to prevent or recover from an EMP”—they are asking Congress for authority to require power companies to take protective steps to build metal shields around sensitive computer equipment.

It is imperative for us to protect our critical infrastructure so that we are not vulnerable to the devastating effects of a potential EMP blast. We must think beyond simple guns and bullets and realize that our technological progress is on one hand a great advantage to our society, but on the other hand, can be a huge liability if our technical nerve centers are “taken out”. Our technology is a great strategic advantage for us, but also it is our soft underbelly, and whether, we are surprised by an EMP or some hard-hitting cyber warfare, we are back to the stone age and it will hurt.

It also occurs to me that the same tools terrorists use against others can also be used against them.