A WOPR OF A BAD IDEA… AI AND NUCLEAR WAR

A WOPR OF A BAD IDEA… AI AND NUCLEAR WAR

Do you remember the line "I'd piss on a spark plug if I thought it would do any good"? It was one of many memorable statements that came out of the Reagan era. Another was, of course, Reagan's offhand comment captured by an open mic before the mic was actually supposed to be live. The President made a comment about the Soviet Union, and that "the bombing starts in five minutes." The first comment was made by the American general in charge of the  NORAD nuclear command center at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, in the 1983 movie, War Games, as the USA's latest super computer, specifically designed to "game out" nuclear war scenarios, decides to run its simulations for real. The computer was appropriately named WOPR, War Operations Plan Response. The whole era (and the movie) was "fun" in that grim sort of Dr. Strangelove way...

... until, of course, the articles started to appear that the Reagan administration was seriously considering a computer-run "launch on warning" response to any pre-programmed condition meeting a threat from the Soviet Union. For example, satellites see a "launch" from a Russian missile silo in Byelokorovichye in the Ukraine. That's "the warning," and as a result, the computerized response is either a limited or all-out US nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. I mention Byelokorovichye for a reason, and a few readers of my books or followers of my interviews will recognaize that name. We'll get back to that.

Now the idea is that of updating the USA's strategic nuclear arsenal with an AI-driven response in an "absorb-and-respond" strategy, due to the new upgrades in Russia's own arsenal, which considerably cuts down the response time American leaders would have in the event of a Russian first strike(this article was brought to our attention by G.B., with many thanks for doing so):

America Needs a “Dead Hand”

 

America’s nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) system comprises many component systems that were designed and fielded during the Cold War — a period when nuclear missiles were set to launch from deep within Soviet territory, giving the United States sufficient time to react. That era is over. Today, Russian and Chinese nuclear modernization is rapidly compressing the time U.S. leaders will have to detect a nuclear launch, decide on a course of action, and direct a response.

Technologies such as hypersonic weapons, stealthy nuclear-armed cruise missiles, and weaponized artificial intelligence mean America’s legacy NC3 system may be too slow for the president to make a considered decision and transmit orders. The challenges of attack-time compression present a destabilizing risk to America’s deterrence strategy. Any potential for failure in the detection or assessment of an attack, or any reduction of decision and response time, is inherently dangerous and destabilizing.

... Time compression has placed America’s senior leadership in a situation where the existing NC3 system may not act rapidly enough. Thus, it may be necessary to develop a system based on artificial intelligence, with predetermined response decisions, that detects, decides, and directs strategic forces with such speed that the attack-time compression challenge does not place the United States in an impossible position.

And here's the bad news: Russia did develop such a system, deployed it, and it may be in use today:

The use of automation in the NC3 system is not entirely new. In fact, beginning in the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union pursued the development of automated systems within the areas of threat detection, logistical planning, message traffic, and weapon-system guidance. Sometime in the late 1980s, the Soviet Union developed and deployed the Perimeter system, which, according to David Hoffman’s book, The Dead Hand, became “ultrafast and automated” once Soviet leadership gave the order — launching the remaining Soviet nuclear arsenal. The Perimeter system is believed to remain in operation today. In a recent interview, Colonel General Viktor Yesin, who commanded Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces in the 1990s, described Russia’s Perimeter system as both improved and functioning.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and the AI-nuclear advocates are thinking it too, according to the article:

However, artificial intelligence is no panacea. Its failures are numerous. And the fact that there is profound concern by well-respected experts in the field that science fiction may become reality, because artificial intelligence designers cannot control their creation, should not be dismissed. For the United States, every option presents significant risk and uncertainty. Reality, however, is progressing to a point where the United States must address the challenge we outlined above. Russia and China are not constrained by the same moral dilemmas that keep Americans awake at night. Rather, they are focused on creating strategic advantage for their countries. (Emphases added)

But there are to my mind at least three more possibilities that are not discussed by the article, and here is where it gets interesting and where our daily dose of high octane speculation comes in. First, as we've noted in many previous blogs, no cyber system is secure. With all major powers, including the USA, Russia, and China, developing sophisticated cyber-warfare capabilities, the possibility arises that any such system in any country might come under the control of another nation, and its arsenal put to its use, either to create a false flag situation, and additionally, there's always the possibility of a non-state actor gaining such penetration and control capability. Admittedly, such a scenario is highly unlikely, since nations embarking on such a strategy are likely to keep such systems entirely insulated from any connection to the worldwide net, but nonetheless the danger does not approach zero.

By the same token, in the race to acquire sophisticated and genuine AI capabilities, one opens the possibility to the AIs "waking up," and a nightmare scenario could emerge where one AI battles another... with nukes. Again, such a scenario may be highly unlikely, but again, the possibility does not approach zero.

But there's a final possibility that may indeed be out of this world, and it's an omission from the article that I find quite intriguing, because I do not think for a moment that this possibility is absent from the secret deliberations and discussions doubtless taking place in the conference rooms of the nuclear powers. And that returns us to Byelokorovichye in The Ukraine. Robert Hastings published a massive study of UFO incidents over the USA's and the Soviet Union's strategic nuclear bases. In the book, Hastings records several incidents over USA missile silo bases where UFOs were able to interfere with the computerized launch and guidance control systems of American ICBMs, at one time taking down an entire flight of ICBMs. IN the Soviet Union, in 1982, a UFO appeared over the Soviet missile silos around Byelokorochichye, and initiated the launch sequence, leaving Soviet missile crews scrambling to try to regain control of the computer systems and prevent the launch. Just prior to the launch, the program was shut down, the UFO flew away, and "sanity" returned.

So one has to wonder if, indeed, this latest round of talk about turning nuclear war over to computers is really directed at Russia (or the USA) at all. Perhaps there's a "behind the scenes" cyber warfare going on, with some rather sophisticated players...

See you on the flip side...

18 thoughts on “A WOPR OF A BAD IDEA… AI AND NUCLEAR WAR”

  1. In the eighties people generally seemed sure of themselves. One’s own mandate was to bring down that wall, where President Reagan made a request of “tear down this wall” in Berlin to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. “War Games,” was a favorite fun movie, too, from two perspectives, one military and the other, bauds and bytes, as they were entering the scenario and replacing those punch card and reel-to-reel contraptions. There were a lot of rapid technological changes in motion. There were more than those items of up-front interest, though.

    Militarily, England, NATO, Soviet Union were very front and center. Late 1980, 1981, 1982, and onward with carry overs from the 70’s, 60’s, and 50’s. The skies were busy and still are.

    Just today, 20Aug2019, Vice President Pence held a meeting with the National Space Council addressing several motions of going to the Moon and Mars. The Space Council includes members from your typical military, industrial, and commercial areas as well as fields of science orientation from medical to materials, essentially, all manner of space related professionals. China, Russia, and

    The use of ground-based missiles that target and destroy orbiting and geosynchronous satellites are developed and deployed by China and similar Russian based missiles are due to be operational within a year, if not sooner. Russia has developed ground-based laser and intervention platforms that also target orbiting satellites that can severely blind or damage similar satellites. Together those two communist countries, that do not share or. . . “walk the western road of constitutionalism, separation of powers, or judicial independence,”. . as western allies and pose a combined threat that include rogue nations and those already hostile to western ways and allies. Those dedicated foreign space forces remain a challenge. It’s no wonder why there are other nations bent on keeping their efforts toward missile development and capabilities up-front. To this end, mentioned at the meeting, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the newly formed US Space Command / Space Force will effectively merge combining DOD and Intelligence matters of NRO to fulfill low orbit missions and beyond. It seems that reconnaissance has grown fangs and claws as formidable adjuncts to its superb visual and frequency discernment capabilities.

    The mention of nuclear thermal propulsion for use in space for traversing the distances between low orbit, Moon, and Mars, and beyond, almost sounds like those early stories from David Adair and how he would make it happen. One of David’s stories about his confrontation with Arthur Rudolf and how General Curtis Lemay intervened and set things right is striking.

    At any rate, there are quite a few manufacturing, research and development, life science, and other space related operations in need of employees. Even epigenetics was a top topic of discussion as well as the effects of space environment experience on both sexes. All the items covered at the meeting hint at wide ranging spin-off technologies with potential that’s difficult to put in numbers. You might have guessed as robotics were also up there with the rest. Space debris and asteroids were part of certain security deployments of space borne nuclear powered devices.

  2. My current favorite perspective is that there are other players out there who we barely know exist whether from this planet or not and whether on the current screen of international relations or not.

    Just as Team Trump/Kushner/Netnyahoo just completed a hostile takeover of Team Wexner/Barak, there are other wealthy guys in the Wealthiest Guys On Earth list that we barely even know exist who are players here with technologies beyond our ken. What little we can speculate is that whoever owned Epstein’s control files before, Kushner owns them now. How ironic that Charles Kushner did time in prison for making control files like this on his brother in law.

  3. Considering that our understanding of human intelligence, its origins and its full capabilities, is embryonic I submit that the term ‘artificial intelligence” is crying out for a revised definition. How do we know when ‘artificial intelligence’ is achieved given our limited understanding of what ‘intelligence’ even is.

    I propose that Artificial Intelligence is not about computers at all. The pieces fall into more illuminating places If “artificial intelligence” is seen as a system for making humans dumber rather than making computers smarter.

  4. If you want to be scared out of your socks about AI (and reflective of the dangers), read SF author Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center Saga series. “The epic tale of a star-spanning civilization of intelligent machines methodically working to exterminate a species of pestiferous vermin that calls itself humanity.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Center_Saga

    We tend to be Earth-centered, and here-and-now centered. We usually forget that there has been, say, 12 Billion Years for life to evolve, prosper, and die-out on other worlds and – possibly – spawn their own versions of AI. An AI need not die-off with their ‘host’ civilization. It may have means (even sub-light) to propagate to another star system. All it needs is to wait for any local-life to become sufficiently technological, and “Gotcha.”

    The above might explain Why the frenzied push to have technology ‘inserted’ into every possible corner – even where it made little sense. Observation and control. And to get back to this blog, the ultimate control is of the launch switches for nuclear salvos. Almost makes sense of the counter-intuitive ‘jostling’ among nations to force both (all) sides to turn-over control to each’s AI…

    It is hard enough to envision an AI growing from human programming. What would be the ‘motives’ of an AI initially-programmed “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”? Take your pick…

    1. It might also explain the ‘push’ against anything of a human potential nature. If you were ultimately just a machine, wouldn’t you fear a species who could ‘go’ where you couldn’t?

    2. My bet is that possible history is longer than 12 billion years. A lot longer. Gotta remember the Standard Theory of Cosmology thought that up. You know the same guys that gave us the Big Bang, Dark Matter and Black Holes?

      So imagine the developments possible with a history closer to oh lets say, infinity?

    3. Almost forgot. Let’s consider an option your comment prompted (and WD did as well).

      How bout if we consider that ALL tech advantages and disadvantages of every culture and player is suddenly dwarfed by one small group who currently controls all the kill switches and back doors in all the computer systems made in the last 20 years and for the foreseeable decade or two ahead. What if every tech has become converted to that group’s tech?

  5. WHAT is the emotional age of the twits who came up with this nightmare scenario? AI makes an excellent patsy if anything goes wrong the real villains will always be the programers and who ordered the program.

  6. Why not have the best (worst) of both worlds?
    Elon Musk on the neural/brain/chip device.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsIj0bBTsFc
    You slip one of these bananas into the head of the president(s), and you control them that way, faster than a speeding stray Presidential thought, more powerful than a hidden local motive ($), able to lift tall lying stories, then you can get the President to hit the game’s ‘save all of humanity’ button to ‘blow them away’ because he is wired for sound-insanity, just out of sheer boredom (payment to Satan), and still get to blame the other man on the other side of the great artificial cold war divide.
    If you prick me with thousands of AI fibres, do I not secede(from the human race)?
    One stray micro fibre, and we are all doomed.

    1. GUUUUMP, I mean PIERRE, you’re a golldarn genius. I see your BasedShaman and raise you one TruthStreamMedia.

      https://www.bitc hute.com/video/rInx6MQhxZM/
      PUTTING A CHIP IN YOUR BRAIN WILL NOT MAKE YOU A SUPERHERO (OR A GOD)

      C’mon you pessimists. What could go wrong?

  7. For the record, let’s be clear here that we are probably not talking about 1st and 2nd generation nuclear weapons here. With respect to nuclear weapons I suspect the existence of these systems tell us that the traditional nuclear warfare model has changed. We aren’t talking about ICBMS that exist to destroy cities and nations anymore. We are now talking about 4th, 5th and 6th generation weapons that function more as scalpels and service disrupters rather than WMDs. Because the resources are more valuable than the people living in a nation, those planning modern wars want to preserve the value of the resources and exist to find ways to strip away the people’s quality of life so they will effectively do the same job as a WMD without the collateral damage. But why is there such a necessity to stop there?

    In fact we’re not even sure nuclear weapons are the real threat when one takes into consideration the possibility of advances made in more exotic weapon systems using cold fusion as triggers. With exception to a few small nations of concern, this proliferation of nuclear weapons is a verbal legerdemain concealing a more serious military threat while using a known military weapon system as justification for its existence, yet creating another layer of plausible deniability. The automation of warfare is desired to remove the “moral stain” or “political consequence” of having to make the decision to go to war while reserving the option of war given the right set of rules and circumstances. I don’t think they want to relinquish their control over the decision itself. All they want is immunity once the decision is made for them. Once freed from all liability the politician can now say, with a straight face, to the public: “I did not vote for that war–so don’t blame me. It was the computer system that made the determination. Lockheed Martin tells us this was a computer bug in the AI system–and we believed the inputs and targets it painted. That AI has been decommissioned. We have already started our investigation of the situation more fully. Lockheed Martin has a lot to answer for because of this blunder.” Then, he can walk into his private executive office to a group of visiting executives, and say, “Thank you, gentlemen, for making the solution of this problem so simple. Your AI system worked perfectly. The results it achieved were far beyond our wildest expectations. It preserved our reputations and helped us maintain public trust. You know as well as I do these are important in today’s suspicious political climate. An additional thanks goes to Raytheon for coming up with those new weapons systems too. It was a smart move to go non-nuclear, yet having just enough of a radioactive signature to fool the unwitting public. Those weapons systems were just what we needed to point the finger of blame in the desired direction. It looks like we might get away with this, again! With any luck we can now prosecute this war without any sustained public criticism whatsoever! You not only have our thanks, but we will do what is necessary to keep the focus on the AI itself–not your corporate liability. You have our word. You now have our approval to deploy the new enhanced system as the recently discredited system is now deemed obsolete.” How do we know this story is not front-loaded and marking a new target for plausible deniability?

    1. PS: The uses of the names of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon here are used for illustrative purposes to layout the mechanics of a scenario. It is not intended to be construed as a statements of fact or intent within the research and production capabilities of these two corporations combined. I could have used two entertainment companies instead, but the scenario would not have been nearly as effective. The names may change, but the scenario itself is my primary thing in view. The name of this game may again be plausible deniability.

      1. Nice OC. Please do write a book. Fiction of course. And then a movie. You could have Bernie as the prez. He’s signed off on every war while preserving his peacenik rep. You could have Jack Nicholson play Bernie. Maybe Roman Polanski could cameo as the VP, Joe Biden. It could be a cross between Strangelove and Mars Attacks. Just remember to have Tulsi Gabbard play herself and come in as the savior after the Prez and Veep keel over dead at one of their child abusing parties. Wait, that’s another movie to work into the mix: Weekend at Bernies?

        Wow, did I just channel Vomito Blanco?

  8. Gut reaction is that AI + Nuclear = end of humanity/earth as we know it with a painful descent in the fight to stop it. And then after uttering this sentence, I have to go throw up…stomach intelligence has always been right in my lifetime 100% of the time. It is only when I ignore it that I and others in my sphere make catastrophic/”no going back” mistakes.

  9. Every micro-second your in a nuclear crap shoot;
    rolling the nuclear AI-bones[dice] and coming up w/ live,
    or die scenarios, all cast at breath-taking, rapid-fire speeds by the disloyal hand of a sure-fire-accident made to happen.

    Insanity!

    Is it now a question of change this death-rock system
    to a living-Earth based system
    or die?

    In today’s post
    the die has been cast!

  10. If we assume that some nation, whose leadership was fanatical enough, desired to fulfill its “destiny” to rule the Earth, had access to virtually every CPU designed over the last 20+ years, has been acting with virtual impunity over that same time period, had the backing of equally fanatical monied elites and other religious fanatics, whom it was now illegal to even criticize in many nations, and believed they are the only humans on the planet, the rest of us being equivalent to animals placed on the Earth to serve them; I might see where this may worry some should the three main nuclear powers place their arsenals under computer control. Blackmail comes in many flavors; and nuclear blackmail should be considered one of them. A Sampson option, if you will; and what occurred at Fukushima, and what some suspect may have actually happened there, should also be considered. When one wages war by deceit, one places oneself at the top of the suspect list by default.
    The Earth has a Zionist parasite problem that is killing its host; eventually something will have to be done about it before the patient dies.
    This is just one of the more worrisome scenarios to be considered, I’m sure we could come up with many more, including some “kid wanting to play those games”.

    1. Point taken WD. With the time frame in mind probably being further along than we realize, I wonder what can be done. And by who. The current paradigm is that we need a bigger monster than the current monster to remove the current monster. How has that paradigm worked out for oh let’s say the last 5000 years?

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