Thursday, President Trump responded to the chemical attack on Syria with over 50 Tomahawk missiles, despite Russia’s hints at the consequences the U.S.might face for taking such action. Friday, after declaring that the U.S. had violated the military operation agreement between Russia and the U.S., Putin destroyed the agreement and effectively closed the line of communication concerning the airspace over Syria. President Trump had notified Russia of the strike before it happened so that they could remove their equipment and people from the area.
Will this end the bromance between Putin and Trump, or is it more like a lover’s spat, only with military equipment involved? If this sparks off a full-blown war between Russia and the U.S., artificial intelligence may just change the way the countries fight, and Russia may find that ending communication concerning airspace may be the last thing he should have considered.
Rise of the Machines
Ever since the first Terminator movie predicted an apocalyptic future where machines exterminate humans, it feels like we’ve just been waiting. Well, President Vladimir Putin has gotten on board with the “Rise of the Machines” and now they’re Russian and ready.
During the Russian Army 2016 Expo, Putin unveiled a 7-ton, unmanned robotic tank that sported a 30mm gun and anti-tank missiles. The mini tank could be operated from six miles away and hit top speeds of 25 mph. This year, the Russians continue to make a weaponized name for themselves and plan to roll out a 20-ton tank that is faster, stronger and more lethal. It also directly rivals the U.S. Army’s human-operated M1126 Stryker tank. Like the AK-47 “Kalashnikov,” the Russian’s have given the massive killing machine a nickname of its own.
They’re calling it “Soratnik,” which translates to “Comrade in Arms” and it may have autonomous killing capabilities.
Ivan The Terminator
The Russian government has been keeping the details under wraps, but its defense ministry has hinted about the unveiling of an actual movie-like, battlefield-ready “Hunter Killer” that is being dubbed “Ivan the Terminator.” A small showing of the country’s technological advancements in robot soldiers went on display in the hotly disputed Crimea region last year as another form of intimidation. While the Russian military has already enlisted these Terminators, they plan to showcase a new breed at an August military expo outside Moscow and sell them to their allies, many of whom oppose the United States.
American Response Team
It’s difficult to discern if the U.S. military is falling behind or taking a different approach to robot soldiers. During the last few years, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have aired growing concerns about AI and robotic technologies of enemy nations. U.S. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva predicted rival countries would put “Terminators” on the battlefield first.
In response, the American military has been aimed at air superiority. To that end, American scientists have created an AI machine that out-thinks and out-performs Air Force fighter aces in computer simulations. The autonomous thinking machine assesses, anticipates and neutralizes enemy threats faster than humans in real time. The U.S. military continues to outpace other nations in terms of securing the unfriendly skies. However, the AI fighter pilot also takes a major step toward the feared outcome of creating thinking machines.
Scientists are calling the it “Alpha” and it employs a “fuzzy logic” to analyze and act in real time. This goes far beyond the pleasant Alexa that is automating homes and playing music. Alpha actually thinks. If you recall Skynet in The Terminator films, Alpha has the potential to decide humans in general and not just Russians and ISIS are the true threats.
Rise of Google Cyborgs
Reports are emerging that although the U.S. trails Russia in cyborg ground forces, the Google-owned Boston Dynamic company has a hybrid Terminator in the works called “Handle.” Information recently leaked out that the autonomous soldier operates on two or four legs and can run up to 9 mph. It reportedly has 10 joints and combines wheel and human-like legs to cover varied terrain. Boston Dynamics has numerous other robot designs in the works as well. Some look just like the battle Droids from Star Wars and others could pass for humans in Hazmat suits. They even have a robotic dog.
But, building on the idea of real life Arnold Schwarzenegger-like cybernetic organisms, researchers from the University of Oxford have had a breakthrough. They can now print 3D artificial human skin by using stem cells. Remember Arnold’s line: “I’m a cybernetic organism, living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.” Apparently, the future is now.
The U.S. military appears completely onboard with these advancements and some say the Army will have more cyborgs than humans on the battlefield by 2025 to combat Putin’s Ivan the Terminator.