Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Deepest Check to Despotism

The Deepest Check to Despotism – Our Robot Overlords and Their Human Masters | Jason Jordan: "In a very significant sense, then, the personal conscience of a nation’s soldiery represents the deepest check to despotism.

Despots have long recognized this implication, and in response have long recruited soldiers (especially personal palace guards) hailing from different ethnic and/or religious backgrounds from the general society…those whose loyalty lies entirely with their paymaster rather than the public at large. Perhaps the most famous example are the Gardes suisses that Bourbon monarchs kept encamped on the outskirts of Paris. Other examples include the Ottoman Janissaries, Ayyubid Mamluks, Roman Germani corporis custodes, Byzantine Hetaireia and Varangian Guard, Russian Cossacks—even the Waffen-SS, which operated outside of the German Heer and was loyal only to the Nazi Party and the Führer.

This fact casts the ongoing automation and robotization of Western militaries in a new unsettling light. An army of machines—serving blindly at the behest of whomever owns the controls—is perhaps the most sweeping exemplar of this historical trend, and poses the same threat to liberty.

Moreover, the extent to which despotic regimes go to propagandize and thereby reduce their own soldiery to robots is a sufficient answer to the concern over fully autonomous military robots: the State will never allow their existence, not for fear of what they might do, but for fear of what they might not do."
RTWT of course -- it's not long. Unfortunately though, I've quoted the cheeriest part...