Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Predator Video Downlink Intereception Analysis

Bruce Schneier has an interesting blog post about the Predator video interception. He even links to this NewYorker article about the uses and implications of using these drones for reconnaissance and assassination. There's a human machine being created around these machines to make assassination less personal, dehumanizing, and automatic. God help us if we are foolish enough to automate humans out of the system entirely, and we are all just targets for a smart calculator. Of course, being able to kill anyone at the push of a button isn't much better, and is only one step removed from automating the process. Perhaps this is better than the alternative which would be killing millions, if not billions, at the push of a button with nuclear missiles, or even the alternative of death by Tomahawk cruise missile which is also an area effect weapon due to the size of the warhead. It's all rather horrifying and psychotic when one starts to think about it. Who's the greater monster in this play? The guy being executed by Hellfire missile, or the guy on the other end of the video feed approving the assassinations or killings on a daily or weekly basis? How many have mistakenly died due to operator error? It's too bad that there's no policy debate on these drones. We assume that they are being used for good, but we have to take the CIA's and DIA's word on it. Unfortunately, both are tarnished for providing poor intelligence and policy guidance ever since the Cold War ended due to bureaucratic infighting and other intragovernment politics. We have to hope that the blowback will be minimal and that the killings are worthwhile. We won't know the truth until I am an old man, if that.

Meanwhile, the drug cartels can avoid the Border Patrol's Predators on the US-Mexico border by eavesdropping on their video feeds with $26 software and a satellite dish.

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Comments:
A difficult question whether all the tragic mistakes made on the ground by infantryman, tankmen or artilleryman are worse than tose by UAV "pilots". All rely on intelligence information.

Mistakes by manned aircraft, such as F-16s or B-52s, may well have caused the most unintended casualties in Afghanistan.
 
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