(Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
Given the name of my blog, you wouldn’t expect this development to escape my eye:
The Pentagon may soon be unleashing a 21st-century version of locusts on its adversaries after officials on Monday said it had successfully tested a swarm of 103 micro-drones.
The important step in the development of new autonomous weapon systems was made possible by improvements in artificial intelligence, holding open the possibility that groups of small robots could act together under human direction.
Military strategists have high hopes for such drone swarms that would be cheap to produce and able to overwhelm opponents’ defenses with their great numbers.
The test of the world’s largest micro-drone swarm in California in October included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16 centimeters) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, the Pentagon said in a statement.
“The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing,” it said.
“Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals, they are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said William Roper, director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”
And I tracked down video of the test:
Of course, there are all sorts of military and ethical considerations to truly autonomous drones. Like what theaters do you deploy them in, and under what conditions. And what do the first time they decide to dismantle a schoolhouse, or kill one of your own guys…
I saw this video about the RAND Corporation’s Simon Sinek talking about the problem with millennials, and thought it was interesting enough to post, but not necessarily endorse.
Some thoughts and caveats:
Worth watching, even if you don’t agree with everything.
This could be what people call “a pretty big deal“:
The Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, has been badly wounded in an armed assault in Ankara according to Turkish press. According to CNN Turk man opened fire in the air then fired twice at the ambassador, who was shot in the back. It is reported that police is still exchanging fire with the attacker.
The attack took place at the opening of the “Russia through Turks’ eyes” photo exhibition, Turkish NTV news channel reports, and adds that there is information that three other people are injured.
Karlov was immediately rushed to a hospital after the assault, according to Turkish media. The ambassador is reported to be in a critical state.
Russian Embassy in Ankara has not issued an official statement concerning the assault yet. However, soon after the news emerged, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian Foreign Ministry would soon issue a statement. The attack comes just a day before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s planned visit to Moscow for Syria talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts.
No word yet on who is responsible for the attack. The Islamic State’s a good candidate, but if the Turkish government announces the PKK was behind it, there’s a 99% chance it’s a false flag operation.
Let’s hope it’s not a “Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo” big deal…
Update: The attacker evidently shouted “Allah Akbar” during the attack which is far more Islamic State than PKK.
Karlov was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored photo exhibition in the capital when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. The attacker also said some words in Russian and smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.
CNN Turk reported that the gunman entered the gallery with a police ID and opened fire on the ambassador as he made a speech. CNN Turk is reporting that a brief hostage situation has ended after special forces entered the building, adding that Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu is at the scene.
Haaretz also offers this photo of the attacker:
More Russian looking than Middle Eastern, and a bit on the light-skinned side for a Chechen.
Update 2: The Russian ambassador has died. Not the sort of things those cheerful, forgiving, happy-go-lucky sorts in the Kremlin are inclined to sweep under the rug…
Update 3: “Turkish security officials identified the attacker as Mert Altıntas, who had graduated from İzmir Rüştü Ünsal Police Academy in 2014.” Also: “He said something about ‘Aleppo’ and ‘revenge’.”
Update 4: Holy fark! Footage of the shooting:
Andrie Karlov, Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot while making a speech at the opening of exhibition “Russia in the eyes of Turks.”
— Jenna Abrams (@Jenn_Abrams) December 19, 2016
Update 5: Evidently assassin Mert Altıntas has himself been slain. Graphic-ish pics in Tweet that follows:
— Michael Horowitz (@michaelh992) December 19, 2016
Update 6: Turkey’s Foreign minister is flying to Moscow of Syria talks. Meanwhile, Russian capo Vladimir Putin isn’t sounding overly belligerent over the assassinations. “This murder is clearly a provocation aimed at undermining the improvement and normalization of Russian-Turkish relations, as well as undermining the peace process in Syria promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria.” Notably absent from Putin’s statement: the phrases “Casus belli,” “glass parking lot” and “sew the earth with salt.”
Reading up on The Battle of the Bulge brought research on just how quickly the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant (where a quarter of all American tanks were built) was assembled.
Here’s a video on how the the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant was built. If you can look past the Chrysler rah rah tone, there’s a lot of information on how quickly it was built and what went into building it (including 51,000 tons of concrete, and 13,000,000 pounds of steel).
Skip ahead to 13:40 to see the first tank off the assembly line drive through a house.
Evidently they started producing sample tanks six months after groundbreaking and before the entire building was finished. There were giants in the earth in those days…
Here’s a video of the plant producing and testing M3 Lee/Grant tanks.
The Grant/Lee tanks were well armed and armored when deployed by the British to North Africa, but the exceptionally high silhouette and extremely limited traversal range for the main gun meant they were quickly outgunned when German Panzer IV’s with their own 75mm main guns mounted in full 360 turrets hit the battlefield, and were quickly replaced by the M4 Sherman tank for European battlefield roles. (M3s continued to be used in the Pacific theater with great success, since it was superior to any tank the Japanese fielded outside the home islands before the end of the war.)
On December 16, 1944, Nazi Germany launched The Battle of the Bulge in a last desperate effort to stave off defeat. It failed due to a combination of stiff American resistance and German shortages of materials and manpower, but it was a hard-fought struggle. Next to D-Day it was the most important Western Front battle of World War II, but as it fades from living memory I thought it offered the opportunity for a reminder.
Best result of Donald Trump’s Taiwan phone call so far? The Taiwanese Animation of it:
Republicans everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief:
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean dropped out of the race to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday.
Dean, who served as DNC chairman from 2005 to 2009, announced in a pre-recorded video to a conference of state Democratic chairs that he would step aside to allow for a new face to lead the party as it seeks to rebuild.
That reduces the field of candidates to three.
The front-runner is Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who has racked up endorsements from Washington lawmakers and national labor unions.
South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire Chairman Ray Buckley are also in the race.
President Obama’s allies are trying to recruit Labor Secretary Tom Perez for the role, and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue is also considering a bid.
I didn’t have Ray Buckley in my last roundup. Among the first links that comes out on the openly gay Buckley are a story about unproven child pornography charges against him and this oddly-edited hit video:
So we have a black Muslim vs. a gay white man for DNC Chair. Well, this ought to be interesting…
Confirming widespread rumor, President-elect Donald Trump announced he’s nominating retired Marine Corps General James Norman “Mad Dog” Mattis as his Secretary of Defense.
Being Trump, he made the announcement at his “Victory Tour” rally in Cincinnati.
Mattis is a universally respected a military leader (at least outside the fever swamps of the left that hate all American military power, as well as those who serve), and should make a great Secretary of Defense.