Posts tagged war

Or we could talk about this. Either way.  h/t transceiverfreq

Message received, and now publicly promising to work on my side project.

Combat is combat. Killing is killing. This isn’t a video game.
The landscape of western Montana, (…) bears a striking resemblance to the Hindu Kush of eastern Afghanistan—a place he’s seen only pixelated on a monitor. It was a cognitive dissonance he had often felt flying missions, as he tried to remind himself that the world was just as real when seen in a grainy image as with the naked eye, that despite being filtered through distance and technology, cause and effect still applied. 
We look through them at the world, and ultimately stare back at ourselves.  

 Confessions of a Drone Warrior

Message received, and now publicly promising to work on my side project.

Combat is combat. Killing is killing. This isn’t a video game.

The landscape of western Montana, (…) bears a striking resemblance to the Hindu Kush of eastern Afghanistan—a place he’s seen only pixelated on a monitor. It was a cognitive dissonance he had often felt flying missions, as he tried to remind himself that the world was just as real when seen in a grainy image as with the naked eye, that despite being filtered through distance and technology, cause and effect still applied. 

We look through them at the world, and ultimately stare back at ourselves.  

 Confessions of a Drone Warrior

US brain project puts focus on ethics

…memories are surprisingly pliable. In the past few years, researchers have shown that drugs can erase fearful memories or disrupt alcoholic cravings in rodents. Some scientists have even shown that they can introduce rudimentary forms of learning during sleep in humans. Giordano says that dystopian fears of complete human mind control are overblown. But more limited manipulations may not be far off: the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), one of three government partners in the BRAIN Initiative, is working towards ‘memory prosthetic’ devices to help soldiers with brain injuries to regain lost cognitive skills. [via]

…or other manipulations to the brain that control the mind.

US brain project puts focus on ethics

…memories are surprisingly pliable. In the past few years, researchers have shown that drugs can erase fearful memories or disrupt alcoholic cravings in rodents. Some scientists have even shown that they can introduce rudimentary forms of learning during sleep in humans. Giordano says that dystopian fears of complete human mind control are overblown. But more limited manipulations may not be far off: the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), one of three government partners in the BRAIN Initiative, is working towards ‘memory prosthetic’ devices to help soldiers with brain injuries to regain lost cognitive skills. [via]

…or other manipulations to the brain that control the mind.

This was the celebration with my awesome & brilliant co-author when we presented at West Point. Now, waiting to hear if our “revisions” submitted while “under consideration” will give us the green light to “publish”. 

High-value targeting (HVT) and Find, Fix,Finish, Exploit, and Analyze (F3EA) can be broken down into constituent parts and reconstituted to demonstrate a familiar biological and psychological scaffolding. HVT and F3EA persist as particularly salient topics in International Relations and Foreign Policy and will continue to be in the future. This undertaking tries to answer why these efforts are effective at an operational level. The reasons are actually quite familiar and present elsewhere. To accomplish this task the theoretical work of John Boyd and John Arquilla is utilized. Additionally, examples from exercise science, biology and neuroscience figure prominently. Understanding how and why HVT and F3EA works sheds light on how completely different problems can be approached or solved in nearly the same way with a high degree of success, saving resources and ultimately, lives. 

"mk."

This was the celebration with my awesome & brilliant co-author when we presented at West Point. Now, waiting to hear if our “revisions” submitted while “under consideration” will give us the green light to “publish”. 

High-value targeting (HVT) and Find, Fix,Finish, Exploit, and Analyze (F3EA) can be broken down into constituent parts and reconstituted to demonstrate a familiar biological and psychological scaffolding. HVT and F3EA persist as particularly salient topics in International Relations and Foreign Policy and will continue to be in the future. This undertaking tries to answer why these efforts are effective at an operational level. The reasons are actually quite familiar and present elsewhere. To accomplish this task the theoretical work of John Boyd and John Arquilla is utilized. Additionally, examples from exercise science, biology and neuroscience figure prominently. Understanding how and why HVT and F3EA works sheds light on how completely different problems can be approached or solved in nearly the same way with a high degree of success, saving resources and ultimately, lives. 

"mk."

Re: Nichey nicheness.

Since some of my work will now involve conflict studies relating to neuropsychology, you can expect to find more posts in this area. Most of you already know about this, so I feel dropping a few bread crumbs about what the hell I’m up to, might be fun. To that end, the February 11th ed. of Time Magazine has a decent introductory overview on drones and manages to squeeze in a few words that cut into a specific research interest of mine:

Drones bring that asymmetrical dynamic out into the real world: a drone is the physical avatar of the virtual presence of a real person. They provoke a new kind of anxiety, quiet unlike the nuclear terror of the 1980s or the conspiracy-theory paranoia of the 1990s. They’re a swarming persistent presence, low-level but ubiquitous and above all anonymous.  [via]

Above: A sample of unmanned aerial vehicles, including the LEMV (1), which can hover for weeks at a time, or the Seafox (5) which hunts and destroys floating mines, the Raven (6) which can deliver real time intel or the Nano (2) equipped with a tiny camera weighing only 19 grams. 

If you have anything similar you’d like to share, the inbox is now open.

[Img src Time, Feb 11, 2012, print ed., via]

Neuroscientists don’t believe in souls—But that doesn’t mean they can’t sell theirs

Funding in research is nightmare to me for a lot of reasons, mostly political-academic bs, so naturally, my soul is for sale right now on Ebay. But lately, I’ve been talking to a mentor (outside of my program) about the ethics surrounding funding. One of my favorite topics covered in this older article by John Horgan, talks about the ethics we face regarding militarization of neuroscience which makes a lot of researchers nervous since their happy go lucky findings/discoveries could be used for killing & destruction or at best, enforcing peace - so not best at all, huh.

Neuroscientists are attempting to solve the most profound secrets of human existence. They should adhere to higher ethical standards than defense contractors and infomercial pitchmen. [via]

To the point where:

Some neuroscientists have gone further, calling on their colleagues to sign to pledge “to Refuse to Participate in the Application of Neuroscience to Violations of Basic Human Rights or International Law.”  [via]

Fair enough since we are talking about drones, unmanned ships, AI, autonomous robots, transcranial magnetic stimulators and neural prostheses. Horgan’s latest article (complete with what I’m calling a Lehrer clause at the end) goes a little deeper into the whys and why nots, both compelling, along with a nice overview of the projects underway.  Give it read, this is a debate well worth having.

Sidebar oversimplification: ya know kids, 80’s Val Kilmer taught me there’s going to be a potentially undesirable way to abuse science/engineering advancements and when involving our military… it’s a no brainer.

[img: ohsweetorchard]

Not so secretly fascinated by robots these days, I found this golden nugget that was presented this week at the AISB/IACAP World Congress 2012 in Birmingham, UK, about robots, theory of mind and empathy.
MORAL COGNITION & THEORY OF MIND

The dangers inherent in autonomous systems initiating kill orders are a central concern for critics of military robots. They commonly point out the fact that present day robots lack situational awareness and are unable to distinguish combatants from non-combatants.  Nor will robots be likely to have the necessary capabilities to perform these tasks in the near future. Distinguishing friend from foe, for example, is also a difficult challenge for humans, but we bring cognitive resources to bear on the problem that are unavailable to robots. [via]

img of Nico who exhibits “primitive self awareness” as he is able to recognize himself in a mirror -from MIT’s Kevin Gold, collaborator with Yale’s Brian Scassellati.

Not so secretly fascinated by robots these days, I found this golden nugget that was presented this week at the AISB/IACAP World Congress 2012 in Birmingham, UK, about robots, theory of mind and empathy.

MORAL COGNITION & THEORY OF MIND

The dangers inherent in autonomous systems initiating kill orders are a central concern for critics of military robots. They commonly point out the fact that present day robots lack situational awareness and are unable to distinguish combatants from non-combatants.  Nor will robots be likely to have the necessary capabilities to perform these tasks in the near future. Distinguishing friend from foe, for example, is also a difficult challenge for humans, but we bring cognitive resources to bear on the problem that are unavailable to robots. [via]

img of Nico who exhibits “primitive self awareness” as he is able to recognize himself in a mirror -from MIT’s Kevin Gold, collaborator with Yale’s Brian Scassellati.

NEUROWAR: Future Wars May Be Fought By Synapses.

AKA: My side project may not be too far off after all, you guys.

In the not-too-distant future, technologies called brain-machine interfaces could allow the combination of human brains with sophisticated computer programs. Analysts with a brain chip could quickly sift through huge amounts of intelligence data, and fighter pilots merged with computer search algorithms could rapidly lock onto an enemy target, for instance.  

Neuroscience could also find its way into interrogation rooms: As scientists learn more about how the brain generates feelings of trust, drugs could be developed that inspire that emotion in prisoners and detainees. Oxytocin, a hormone produced by mothers’ bodies after childbirth, is one such candidate. Perhaps a whiff of oxytocin could dampen a person’s executive functions, turning an uncooperative detainee into a chatty friend.

Other sorts of psychopharmacological manipulation could be used to boost soldiers’ performance, allowing them to remain vigilant without sleep, heighten their perceptual powers and erase memories of their actions on the battlefield. Because neuroscientists are beginning to understand how the brain forms memories, it’s not inconceivable that a drug could be designed to prevent PTSD. Such technology could enable more sinister applications, though, such as creating soldiers who wouldn’t remember atrocities they committed or detainees who couldn’t recall their own torture.

I’ll be meeting with my ex KGB source again, and plan on asking his thoughts about this. I’ve got more of his accounts on interrogation before we move on to torture and sniper work.

"How Blasts Injure the Brain"

neurocide:

Published today on PLoS, “A Possible Role for Integrin Signaling in Diffuse Axonal Injury” researchers shed light on understanding cellular injuries in the brain caused by explosion blasts. Unfortunately, the relevance of this expands further than the 300,000 soldiers that have experienced a traumatic brain injury. So how can a explosion of sound cause brain damage?

Through a microscope, the researchers saw that the “blast” caused swelling, breakage, and other signs of injuries to the neurons’ spindly axons and dendrites, which send and receive signals from other neurons. A series of biochemical experiments found that the mechanical force disrupted proteins called integrins that help anchor cells to the scaffold of protein that surrounds them. Integrins have roles in a wide range of biochemical signaling pathways, but Parker’s team identified one particular pathway that seems to play a role in injury to axons

A previous, but related study found:

… recent findings of damage to the brain’s white matter, which is made up of axons, in Iraq war veterans injured in blasts, Parker says. All the same, he cautions that much more work will be needed to see whether these culture dish findings are relevant to what happens in the brain of a soldier exposed to a blast. “It would be inappropriate to extrapolate from a dish to some dude’s head,” Parker says. via

These results potentially can do two things: explain why Vasospasms can exist sans bleeding in the brain and of course lead toward treatments.

nightline:

Alleged cabbie stabber freed on $500,000 bail.
[Michael] Enright has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer says the film student was beset by alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder from a trip to Afghanistan.
—The Associated Press

I don’t know the whole story with this guy…but it doesn’t seem like it’s adding up so far. Some experts say that those returning from Afghanistan who have been dx’ed with PTSD can have violent reactions in response to something or a feeling, that is typical here but that over there would have sent them into an attack mode. It’s as if the neural systems were re-trained to react a certain way to stimuli there, forming direct, fast acting pathways. Naturally just coming back home out of a threatening environment doesn’t return the perception and response back to pre-soldier. Usually, the people also are uninterested in going out or socializing and have admitted they are afraid of what they might do if provoked, and for that reason become recluse.  I think NPR did a really great story about this recently. If nothing else it will be an important case to see how the courts will treat this issue.

nightline:

Alleged cabbie stabber freed on $500,000 bail.

[Michael] Enright has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer says the film student was beset by alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder from a trip to Afghanistan.

—The Associated Press

I don’t know the whole story with this guy…but it doesn’t seem like it’s adding up so far. Some experts say that those returning from Afghanistan who have been dx’ed with PTSD can have violent reactions in response to something or a feeling, that is typical here but that over there would have sent them into an attack mode. It’s as if the neural systems were re-trained to react a certain way to stimuli there, forming direct, fast acting pathways. Naturally just coming back home out of a threatening environment doesn’t return the perception and response back to pre-soldier. Usually, the people also are uninterested in going out or socializing and have admitted they are afraid of what they might do if provoked, and for that reason become recluse.  I think NPR did a really great story about this recently. If nothing else it will be an important case to see how the courts will treat this issue.

criminalwisdom:

‘That 2,000 Yard Stare’ painted by Tom Lea, World War Two. (via)

“Art of the American Solider” is a art exhibition made up of 300 painting by American Solders depicting every conflict fought by American Soldiers from the First World War all the way through to the current conflict in Afghanistan. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was quoted saying “groundbreaking exhibition depicts the human dimension of war in ways no photograph or newsreel ever could”.


Be sure to listen to each time period’s audio while looking here. Hauntingly beautiful.

criminalwisdom:

‘That 2,000 Yard Stare’ painted by Tom Lea, World War Two. (via)

Art of the American Solider” is a art exhibition made up of 300 painting by American Solders depicting every conflict fought by American Soldiers from the First World War all the way through to the current conflict in Afghanistan. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was quoted saying “groundbreaking exhibition depicts the human dimension of war in ways no photograph or newsreel ever could”.

Be sure to listen to each time period’s audio while looking here. Hauntingly beautiful.

The evolutionary psychology of war

"Nothing too shocking here for students of evolutionary psychology but it’s always interesting to see real world examples of how our shared behavior. There is a new book by Sebastian Junger called War, in which he recounts how men do not fight for larger ideological goals (eg. “a safer Iraq”, “finding Bin Laden”) but instead they can overcome fears because “they’re more concerned about their brothers than what happens to themselves individually”. Here’s Junger on Good Morning America, and more on group cohesiveness” with Jon Stewart here.