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Are new technologies undermining the laws of war?

the-taranis-drone_smallby Braden R. Allenby via Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Throughout history, new military technologies have had profound ramifications: The rise of gunpowder and cannon created economies of scale that encouraged the emergence of nation-states, and Prussia used railroads to surprise the Austrians at Königgrätz, beginning the end of the Austrian Empire.

Today, emerging military technologies—including unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots, and cyber weapons—raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war, particularly those relating to the primacy of the state and the geographic bounds of warfare. But the laws of war have been developed over a long period, with commentary and input from many cultures. What would seem appropriate in this age of extraordinary technological change, the author concludes, is a reconsideration of the laws of war in a deliberate and focused international dialogue that includes a range of cultural and institutional perspectives

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5GW and Norwegian Terrorism

The atrocities committed against innocent civilians in the recent terrorist attacks in Norway shows how much harm and disruption one person can do against an unprepared society. Is the attack a precursor for a general transformation and individualization of terrorism?

According to the evolution of military theory advanced surveillance, intelligence and sophisticated weaponry is useless against terrorists like Anders Behring Breivik (ABB). This was confirmed by the chief of the Norwegian chief of internal security (PST) admitting that even the STASI secret police couldn’t have stopped the attack.

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Why you already live in a cyberpunk future

Our perception of a cyberpunk future is shaped by the foresight of luminaries like William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling. Their vivid scenarios of ubiquitous computers, high tech weaponry, corporate tyranny and social disintegration have never been closer to reality than in the world of 2011. Here’s a few facts that will make you question the very fabric of our contemporary existence and learn to embrace the promise and perils of an increasingly cyberpunk reality.

A reality filled with high technology run by low life.

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How US strategic antimissile defense could be made to work

The authors show that the United States has the ability to defend itself from long-range nuclear armed ballistic missiles if it builds the right systems defenses based on stealthy drones that could shoot down ballistic missiles in powered flight after they have been launched from fixed known sites.This same system could defend Northern and Western Europe, and Northern Russia from large and cumbersome long-range ballistic missiles that Iran might build in the future.

Source: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (PDF).

Report: Space Security 2010

The rate at which new states gain access to space increased dramatically in the past decade. By the end of 2009 a total of 50 states had placed satellites in space … This number is expected to continue to grow as more states seek the socio-economic benefits that space provides through the efforts of the commercial sector and countries such as China, which are helping states to develop affordable small satellites. Companies such as the former Surrey Satellite Technologies Limited and China have assisted states including Algeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, Portugal, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and South Africa in efforts to build their first civil satellites.

Excerpt from the Space Security 2010 Report (PDF). MSNBC has a summary of the report in the article “World’s military projects dominate space“.

Also see “US Space Security Policy” (PDF) from the Centre for International Policy Studies.

Stuxnet worm heralds new era of global cyberwar

That attack took place in 2008 and was acknowledged by the Pentagon only this August. It was strikingly similar to the recently disclosed cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities using the Stuxnet worm, which also appears to have used contaminated hardware in an attempt to cripple Iran’s nuclear programme.

Like the attack on Centcom’s computers, the Stuxnet worm, which Iran admits has affected 30,000 of its computers, was a sophisticated attack almost certainly orchestrated by a state. It also appears that intelligence operatives were used to deliver the worm to its goal.

Its primary target, computer security experts say, was a control system manufactured by Siemens and used widely by Iran, not least in its nuclear facilities.

Source: The Guardian. Also read the analysis of the attack by Symantec; W32.Stuxnet Dossier (PDF).

Raytheon unveils second generation exoskeleton – Sarcos XOS 2

The suit is built from a combination of structures, sensors, actuators and controllers, and it is powered by high pressure hydraulics. It enables its wearer to easily lift 200 pounds several hundred times without tiring and repeatedly punch through three inches of wood. Yet, the suit, which was developed for the U.S. Army, is also agile and graceful enough to let its wearer kick a soccer ball, punch a speed bag or climb stairs and ramps with ease.

“Getting exoskeletons deployed is inevitable in my view,” said Smith. “They are desperately needed, and I believe the military looks at them as viable solutions to a number of current issues they are trying to address. With a sustained commitment, they could be in place within five years.”

Via Engadget. Check out video at YouTube.

What Kind Of Top-Secret Assassination Tech Does $58 Billion Buy?

Every year, tens of billions of Pentagon dollars go missing. The money vanishes not because of fraud, waste or abuse, but because U.S. military planners have appropriated it to secretly develop advanced weapons and fund clandestine operations. Next year, this so-called black budget will be even larger than it was in the Cold War days of1987, when the leading black-budget watchdog, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), began gathering reliable estimates. The current total is staggering: $58 billion—enough to pay for two complete Manhattan Projects.

Source: Popular Science.

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