Carnegie-Mellon's Dr. Strangeloves

Carnegie-Mellon is a great university and when it comes to robotics and computer science is always on the cutting edge. But does that cutting edge have to be so sharply lethal?

Unmanned aircraft are showing up in the skies more often and today the US Army awarded $14.4 million to Carnegie Mellon to build a remote-controlled unmanned tank.

A certain amount of the award will go toward significantly improving the Crusher, a 6.5-ton unmanned support vehicle Carnegie engineers developed in 2006 in conjunction with DARPA. Since its introduction, the Crusher has demonstrated unparalleled toughness and mobility during extensive field trials in extremely rugged terrain, according to Carnegie Mellon. (Network World)

I'm sure these researchers and their students and postdocs have rationalized this in some way. Maybe they think it's a good thing or just another way to do things that are "interesting." But research on how to make unmanned weapons more lethal is reprehensible, a perversion of science. Of course we all know perverts are not uncommon. Maybe we should make them register so we know when they are in our academic neighborhood.

CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) is on the case, proud to say they will work closely with US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Probably most of these guys are just ordinary techies who don't care what their creations are used for.

But they should care.

More like this

tags: cyborg-moth, robotics, insects, warfare Would you think I was talking about a science-fiction novel if I told you that scientists can control the movements of a live moth using a joystick, and this moth was being used to spy on terrorist training camps in the hills of Pakistan? Just imagine;…
This is the first of three discussion posts for Week 1 of Feminist Theory and the Joy of Science. You can find all posts for this course by going to the archives and clicking on "Joy of Science" under in the Category section. This post deals with the readings by Eisenhart & Finkel and…
In a breakthrough heralded by some as "a major advancement toward the annihilation of the human species," a military contractor known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is utilizing robotic hybrid insects for surveillance and intel gathering. Using microelectromechanical…
REMOTE-CONTROLLED insects may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but they have already been under development for some time now. In 2006, for example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA, the Pentagon's research and development branch) launched the Hybrid Insect Micro-…

Revere, robotic tanks as lethal and effective as current American tanks means fewer dead American tankers. Opposition to THAT is reprehensible.

Go CMU!!

By WoodyTanaka (not verified) on 03 Dec 2007 #permalink


I appreciate your stand on this issue. I was disappointed to see CMU jumping on the weapons development gravy train just like everyone else.

I've received repeated inquiries from DARPA and associated agencies myself, either to do some variant of this sort of thing or (equally odious) to help them figure out better ways to spy on Americans. The answer is always no way, and I'm not the least bit ashamed of it. Such work is a perversion of science, and I won't let anyone in my lab be involved in this kind of work.


The A-10 Thunderbolt remains a potent anti-armor weapon. Though it is very tough and the pilot is heavily armored, the pilot is still at risk.

If for the price of one main battle tank (MBT) we could field 50 unmanned armored antitank platforms, we could protect large areas from armored attack rather cheaply, both dollar terms, and especially in soldiers' lives. With no humans to protect, the volume shrinks a lot, the vehicle becomes harder to hit, and with the shrunk size the same fuel takes it farther and longer.

The enemy, contemplating an armored attack, would have to face the threat of a large number of very dangerous tank-killers that are literally fearless. It would take some great speechmaking to rally his troops into that battle.

Anti-ship missiles (Exocet and the like) replaced kamikaze attacks. Tank-killers could replace manned armor in both defense and offense.

Predators in Iraq are flown by people seated at consoles in Nevada, and that's real-time flight -- surveillance and combat. Operating a tank-killer half a world a way would be no big deal, easier than flying. As skills develop, gangs of TKs could hunt the enemy, ambush, overrun, and move on.

If you don't think being overrun by machines would be instantly demoralizing, you haven't read enough science fiction.

CRM-114, I find work aiming at creating the kind of world where people have to fear being overrun by automated weapons to be reprehensible and immoral. What kind of society actually thinks that finding better ways to kill people is a good thing?

Woody: I am not in favor of more dead Americans. I am opposed to more dead human beings.


Your comment is spot on!

Of course these unmanned weapons will be sold in the arms trade industry. And despotic rulers who want to "control" their own populations by force will have the last inhibition removed. If they order their own troops to fire on their own citizens, there is a certain inhibition in that, or am I being too naive?

Of course, you Americans all have 12 gauge shotguns to keep the remote controlled tanks at bay...

But with a bunch of remote controlled machines, hey, now we're talking complete control. Let's watch that Terminator DVD again...

But then again we do have people who would do us harm so it requires a response in kind. Medical technology has been advanced many times by military medical research...Yellow Fever for one. The plastic screens to keep mercury amalgam fillings from getting into your stomach. This is just an offshoot and its there to ensure that humans dont get dead.

The F-22 is the last starfighter that will be piloted. Everything from now on will be RPV's of somekind. Humans cant take the g's that the next generation of aircraft will require.

RobT-I would never bring a 12 gauge to this kind of fight. Thats for up close and personal work. RPV tanks have been on the boards for years but the electronics simply were not up to the job. I can tell you that 10-20 of these kinds of machines would likely end the bloodshed in a place like Darfur because they suddenly become outgunned and definitely in a response mode that makes it not so worthwhile.

Terminator DVD might not be too far off the mark. Watch for the one thing that we learned about it years ago....Autonomous reaction and action.

Janne-This is the logical progression of what happened ever since the first Flash Gordon and I, Robot by Asimov.

Get used to it. In 20 years we wont be worried about illegal aliens, it will be robots. We will field full armies and air forces with them and politics aside this will be the final thing that brings order out of the chaos of the world. I have said it many times here, the cost in human lives or destruction of infrastructure and human beliefs has to be so high to prevent a war, that no war is ever contemplated. Just have to watch who has the politics side of it.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 03 Dec 2007 #permalink

I am at a loss to understand why this should be news or a surprise to anyone. Academia has been up to its armpits in DoD funding since WWII. You may not like it very much, but without it the Internet would not exist nor, in all probability, would the entire field of computer science. See here for more. CMU has always been near the front of the line when it comes to taking DARPA money. And it's not like DARPA came up with the idea that the scientists and engineers could be induced to come up with innovative weaponry. This is merely business as usual.

Since nobody here, I assume, would take the position that the US should unilaterally disarm or that it should not pursue weapons development programs at all, I read this as a call that such work should not be undertaken on university campuses. This strikes me as nothing more than a manifestation of unconscious class prejudice. You are willing to have the work of violence done, as long as it doesn't intrude on your leafy and idyllic world.

FWIW, I am not particularly a fan of the military, but I dislike hypocrisy even more.

Unless a researcher is 100% pacifist, why should they feel bad about what they are doing? They are actually removing human beings a level away from direct combat. I would love for more unmanned tanks to go at it from both sides, having soldiers (read: technicians) removed from the line of fire.

Now I am no fan or violence. I hate what people can do to one another... But from my perspective, the idea that the use of force is never a solution is absurd on its face.

If I were waging a just war, I would love to have a device that removed my tank operators from harm.

Moreover, if you allow for the possibility of a war to ever be just, to blame the people coming up with these devices is simply misguided. This ain't the atomic bomb.

mtraven: It's not news. I've been at several universities where this work goes on. Some of it is much worse. I am not OK with this work elsewhere, either, not because I am a pacifist, but because I believe there are limits to what is appropriately self defense and what enables aggressiveness. For years the US has been in a technological arms race with itself. It designs and builds increasingly lethal weapons, sells them to others and then gives the existence of these weapons as an excuse to build even more lethal ones. Your arguments are warrant for the "chemical Ali's" of this world. Maybe in the future Iraq will be nvolved in a just war. It assumes there are no limits. While it isn't the atomic bomb, what would be wrong with the atomic bomb by these lights? Or poison gas? Or biological weapons? Nothing I wrote in that post is an argument against use of force in all circumstances.

I am a doctor and a scientist. By your reasoning doctors can take part in research to kill people instead of healing them. I disagree. Your view, IMO, is entirely amoral, and in some cases, immoral.

"But then again we do have people who would do us harm so it requires a response in kind."

But what the hell are you talking about with the above statement? Please specify the right wing organization you said you joined years ago.
If we follow the logic of your statement, it means you approve of using torture against terrorists? Am I correct?
You would approve of using tactical nuclear weapons with the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima to take out the nuclear installations in Iran, even if it kills millions with radiation as the nuclear reactors in Iran go critical, killing innocent people. And this is because our government informs us Iran will nuke Isreal soon?
Your general attitude seems to be: Identify the enemy and nuke them, period.
What is your opinion regarding the use of torture by the US government? Do you approve of the CIA Rendition program, and if so, why? Do you approve of the destruction of the Bill of Rights by passage of the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act? Do you think US citizens should be arrested under these new anti-terrorist legislation, spied of by the FBI, and kept in prison for indefinite periods, without the right to contact a lawyer?
Do you think the use of poison gas during WWI was acceptable?
You enjoy expressing your ideas, so please explain.
Please tell me what you think about the law passed by the House, and waiting approval by the Senate, called the Violent Radicalization and Hoemgrown Terrorism Prevention Act. This law will encompass both First Amendment political activities and traditional forms of protest such as nonviolent civil disobedience.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has announced it is a threat to American citizen's rights to gather and organize for peaceful protest of Government policy.

Woody: I am not in favor of more dead Americans. I am opposed to more dead human beings.

Bullshit. You won't bring about your goal by opposing this research, because whether a weapon is used or not is a political question. Opposing this research will not change whether tanks are ever used; all it will do is ensure that when tanks are used, American soldiers will die needlessly.

So if you really want to reduce the number of humans and not just make impotent but self-aggrandizing statements, you need to get involved politically and become a part of the process. Elect and work to elect those politicians who you think will not use these weapons unwisely or run for office yourself. Hiding behind a pseudonym and taking potshots at these folks at CMU who are trying to save the lives of American soldiers is bullshit. You should be ashamed of yourself.

By WoodyTanaka (not verified) on 04 Dec 2007 #permalink


What sections of that bill, specifically, do you find offensive? Please cite to the sections which you find to be of concern. Thanks.

By WoodyTanaka (not verified) on 04 Dec 2007 #permalink

Woody: Or when they are used innocent people will die needlessly (does it matter if they aren't Americans or is that the "cost of war"). You assume I am not politically involved (I don't know why you assume that, but I'll guess I've been politically involved since before you were born, but maybe you're a geezer like me, I don't know). I spent over a decade at MIT and I know that most people who work on these things aren't trying to save lives. They are just working on "interesting projects" and paying for their educations and salaries. CMU isn't alone. If you think that's what they are doing you don't know this world -- or the world in general. I value human life regardless of nationality. Maybe that's a reason to be ashamed, but not where I come from (which is the American heartland).

revere, you misread my argument. I am not a fan of war or weaponry. What I am objecting to is the very common political tactic of academics who are shocked to find war-related activiites going on in their neighborhood, but don't seem to have a problem with it if it is going on over on the other side of the tracks. Pushing ROTC off campus, or weapons research off campus, gives campus leftists a warm glow of righteousness but does very little to slow down the war machine, All it does is push war-related work out of sight and out of mind. It seems based to me on class prejudice -- you are OK with war, as long as it is kept out of the better neighborhoods. Your line: I am a doctor and a scientist. By your reasoning doctors can take part in research to kill people instead of healing them. is exactly a manifestation of this kind of class prejudice. You are saying that you are too good for this kind of dirty work. There are the doctors and scientists who belong to polite society, and then somewhere out there are the lower-class grunts with guns and the rather downscale engineers who do weapons work. You are not against war, you are just against war when it intrudes on your upper-class world.

mtraven: You make a lot of generalizations both about me and others who work in universities. I wonder what your experience is in that regard. I was in ROTC (land grant university) so I know that world, too. My wife comes from a working class family and I have spent a great deal of my professional life working with communities and unions. I have firefighters and cops in my family. I don't know what you think you know about the "grunts who do the dirty work" but many of them are nothing like you (are you in the working class, politically speaking?). I'll wage I have much more to do, on a daily basis, with those you refer to as lwer-class grunts than you do and see more of their problems than you know about. There are a lot of ways to be an elitist, and one of them is to accuse others of not knowing the world that only you "elite" understand and have a right to speak about. Your pre-occupation with "campus leftists" betrays your agenda here which has nothing to do with my actual post.

And engineers? Unless you are an engineer (and maybe even if you are) I may know more of them than you do. They are of all types, the good, the bad and indifferent, just like doctors. I am directing my remarks to the indifferent.

I have principles that are important to me. I've lived by them and sometimes suffered for them. Maybe you don't like them. Tough.


You make a lot of assumptions about me and my motives, and a lot of them are false. Let's take just one of them. It's not just that I want research on semiautonomous battle robots that kill people kicked off my campus. I want research on semiautonomous battle robots that kill people halted entirely, everywhere.

Because I know lots of academic engineers and others who do this sort of work without asking themselves the hard questions, revere's post resonated with me. Damn straight about the principles, Revere.


Where to begin? Herman, I am a peacenik by heart but reality dictates that we keep these things around and improve them constantly and for guys like me to be willing to use them. WWI was a good example of politics fighting a war. We wouldnt tell the goddamn French (for 8 months) that frontal assaults werent working... After all they were our allies right? Then when the airplanes started flying over the lines it changed the math tremendously as 50 pd artillery shells were being dropped.

Later, the Germans actually bombed London for the first time with a blimp! Technology has improved from the time the first ape hit the other ape with a rock, rocks went to spears, spears went to arrows, arrows went to siege machines and armor, armor went to armored carts, armored carts went to half tracked vehicles simultaneously to tanks, tanks went to airplanes, airplanes went to fast airplanes and tanks and really high output hand held rifles and automatic weapons. Then the big poof! The big poof went to the bigger poof. So along the way did we forget evolution? Survival of the fittest? We evolved and so did our weaponry.

Did I mention that the Hilary stink about armoring up a HumVee was for a vehicle that was never designed to be armored up. Its a desert vehicle in a close quarters situation. Armor the thing up and take it into the sand two hundred feet, watch what happens. But it sure sounded good on the campaign trail. It made the military sound inept, which we aint. Its the politics that get soldiers killed. Peacekeeping missions? For WHOM? Once you are there you cant fire unless fired upon.....Duh!

Where were the Clintons to save us during WWII when those open Jeeps were called sniper bait? OOOOOOOhhhhhh! I just cant see how we got thru that one without armored up Jeeps. Later they did, its called a gas guzzling SUV now.

But as to torture? Shit Herman I said it before, I would use a chain saw on someone to stop a terrorist attack and on national television, live. Would I want to? Not really but some things are necessary. I dont agree too much with the randomization of torture. There are plenty of ways to make someone talk without it if you have time. Sleep deprivation is really good. Loud music. Scopalamine. Yep, all sorts of ways. Waterboarding is just one way. Far better tactics out there. But yes, I would use them all if necessary. Necessary is whats on the definition board that day. I hear all sorts of things about these peoples "rights". Their rights have been known and established for about 80 years. They aint got any.

You dont have to worry about the Israeli's Herman. They already asked for overflight permission for a strike against Iran themselves. And yes Herman, dropping a tactical nuke that kills millions to prevent a wider war, yup. It would be a measured response and IMO its a question at the time what would justify it.

As for the arrest bullshit Herman... How many have been arrested under the Patriot Act? Very, very few. Now I expect my Democrat brothers to abuse it in the future as they have in the past with laws that were enacted to prevent anti-American activities. But at that time we had the SDS, The Weathermen, the Black Panthers and oh shit the Communists. But it was enacted at the time. You also might want to look at the Patriot Act. Its very reminisce of the laws in place during the Cold War.

The Raven has it. Nearly every application has a military one if used right. Velcro, Chobham Armor, body armor and down the line. Its not hypocritical to support your country and government in your job. Hell, Revere doesnt want to pay taxes for the war in Iraq. Ok, I can understand but thats at least one of the things in the Constitution. Cant find entitlements in there......or UHC, or Medicare.

And Herman... Jump all over the place will ya? Cant hit the moving target. We used gas in response to gas attacks during WWI. We also had Hitler threatening to gas bomb London so response in kind. I have said it before as well. Dont bring a knife to a gun fight.

BTW-I wouldnt use nukes in Iran on the nuke sites. I would cruise missile the leadership and then persistent agent the sites so they couldnt use them. You are right a runaway reactor isnt a good thing. Its especially bad when you have a "China Syndrome" possibility. We could though cause it to scram by hitting the water feeds. Once those rods drop its not going to restart for a long time.

But then again you really seem to want to go all out to support people who certainly have been blowing up buildings, jacking airplanes, blowing up airplanes and not supporting the people who trying to interdict that. With the exception of Eric Rudolph, I havent seen any Baptists jacking a plane or blowing up buses and daycares.

I am totally confused by your positions on most things. You actually seem to me to be supporting them and asserting that the Constitution is being trampled and someones rights are being destroyed. You are right. Its the people who didnt do jack shit to any of them whose rights are being affected. Show up down here and start that rant and we will show you the pictures of the local girls who were in London when the bus blasts went off. Rant really long and the necks will show you the way out of town.

As for the rights, the problem is that the Congress decides what they think are your rights are. They are fluid as the Supreme Courts rules upon and how any President administrates them. You cant have security and have a whole pre-9/11 load of rights. Cant have both. Has YOUR life been affected by the Patriot Act? Yeah, I have to take my shoes off so a show can be made about security. Total waste of time and money. But, no one would fly if they didnt so do what I do and wear a pair of socks for four days and THEN go ride a plane. Silent protest.

But back to your rights thing .

Terrorists Bill of Rights

1. You Americans, you have the right to be dead. Attorneys? First to be killed.

2. You Supporters of American Ideals, you have the right to be dead. Attorneys who say we have rights? We applaud and pay you big money. Once its over though, first to be killed.

3. You people who wussied and didnt support your country, will be converted or dead. We can arrange that. Be in the Sears Tower on the top floor on _____ of 20__.

4. You pacifists. Thank You. Atheists though we thank and revile. Time for a conversion.

5. You appeasement people. Yes we did and were building a bomb.

Sensitive and apprehensive to the issues Herman? There is a new Disney ride coming out, its called the Twin Towers. You get to sit on the top 20 floors while someone sets fire to it, then it collapses and you get a 3 second ride into Hell.

Nice post Revere. Got the natives restless. You are right though and I wish it werent so but it is literally IMO just evolution at its finest. The diff between us and the bugs is that we use tools. They grow an appendage to kill with or some poison internally to defend. How much different are we really?

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 04 Dec 2007 #permalink

Mr Kruger: I'll take your word that "very, very few have been arrested" in spite of more than 100.000 warrantless searches authorized under the USA PATRIOT act. It doesn't surprise me one bit.

Please read the following from a speech by Adolph Hitler in 1932, and tell me if you would support these ideas.

"I know quite well, gentlemen, that when National Socialists march through the streets and suddenly in the evening there arises a tumult and a commotion, then the bourgeois draws back the window-curtain, looks out, and says: "Once again my night's rest is disturbed: no more sleep for me. Why must these Nazis always be so provocative and run about the place at night?" Gentlemen, if everyone thought like that, then, true enough, no one's sleep at night would be disturbed, but then also the bourgeois today would not be able to venture into the street. If everyone thought in that way, if these young folk had no ideal to move them and drive them forward, then certainly they would gladly be rid of these nightly fights. But remember that it means sacrifice when today many hundreds of thousands of SA and SS men of the National Socialist movement have every day to mount on their lorries, protect meetings, undertake marches, sacrifice themselves night after night and then come back in the grey dawn to workshop and factory, or as unemployed to take the pittance of the dole: it means sacrifice when from the little they possess they have further to buy their uniforms, their shirts, their badges, yes and even pay their own fares. Believe me, there is already in all this the force of an ideala great ideal!]"
Randy, do you think these Brown Shirts of Hitler, who beat up, tortured, and killed Jews, Communists, and anyone who opposed the Third Reich should be admired for their dedication to the fatherland?
Because what you present in your post is exactly the attitude of members of the Third Reich. Torture and murder of your own citizens is good, if they are terror suspects, correct? I truly admire your attitude. You will go far in life.

revere, I think my messages have been sounding more like personal attacks than I intended, so I apologize for that. I've spend decades around elite engineering schools and for the most part shared in the attitudes that I am now attacking. So I am arguing with myself and the social mores I have observed around me. I don't know anything about your personal class background and you don't know anything about mine, but it is a fact that engineering has traditionally been relatively lower-class compared to other professional occupations (maybe this has changed in recent decades, when a few engineers could end up as cool and/or rich, but think about, for instance, the relative social status of an MIT degree vs. a Harvard degree in the mid-20th-century) and military-related work is looked down on since the 60s. I look down on it myself, but I'm trying to free myself from or at least understand my own prejudices.

You say you are trying to live by principles. What are they in this regard? "Doctors and scientists shouldn't do war research" doesn't sound like a principle to me, it sounds like a statement of caste rules, like Brahmins should't do manual labor.

I don't mean to attack you personally, because I suffer from the same prejudices. I think war research is rather icky and nasty and I wouldn't want to work on it. Ideally, nobody would work on it, but we don't live in an ideal world, and military technology work will go on with or without me.


Here is where our perspectives seem to diverge. You write "Ideally, nobody would work on it, but we don't live in an ideal world, and military technology work will go on with or without me."

True. But for me, the only ethical course is to refuse nonetheless to work on military technology. Just because someone else will do it if I don't is in no way a justification for doing it myself, unless I subscribe to some extreme form of utilitarian ethics - which I do not.


mtraven: Doctors get asked to be involved in war work, too. In my day it was called the doctors draft and we were sent to Vietnam. I refused, not because I am a Brahmin (which I am not) but because I thought it was wrong to be complicit in the violation of my oath and what I meant to do with my profession, which was to heal people. Although I was only asked to tend the wounded my reasoning was this. If I were passing a bank during a robbery and one of the robbers fell at my feet, bleeding in a hail of bullets, I would be compelled to tend to him. If I were asked to be the doctor for a gang of bank robbers because it is hazardous duty, I would refuse. I spent a decade at MIT, one of the best places I have ever worked. I loved working with engineers (I was a doctor by then) and still do. MIT did and has done a huge amount of military research, much of it absolutely reprehensible in my book. Example: a materials scientist looking at interaction between electromagnetic radiaiton of various frequencies and certain kinds of materials. Interesting topic, that MIT scientists and engineers are well equipped to handle. The object from the miliary's point of view was to make shrapnel not visible on x-ray. Admittedly, just because it is military research doesn't automatically make it wrong. But a lot of military research -- and I am counting those things designed to make weapons more lethal -- is wrong in my view and is being engaged in just because contracts are available to do it. No questions about whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. And there are some things it is proper to ask that about. I know a lot of engineers who have asked that question and switched to another area of research or another funding source or another employer. Not always easy, not always (personally) feasible, sometimes a close call (although CMU is not a close call IMO). So mine is not a knee-jerk response, and I think that is true of many like me who are appalled at the unthinking chase after money that characterizes so much of academic practice. It's not that I think so highly of academia, it's that I think too little of it. I know it is far from only interested in the pursuit of knowledge. It's a business like other businesses and some things businesses do are bad.

Not really sure about how I feel about this issue. Let's face it, if it was not for science and scientists we would not have any of our modern weapons.

This goes further back than Oppenheimer and the other physicists to even encompass Archimedes. I just don't know if we can escape it. So this issue has been prevalent long before we had modern universities.

Maybe just manage it in some way....

I don't think Mr. Kruger is concerned about the welfare of those arrested under any type of anti-terrorist legislation. What he is concerned about is terrorists, and the dangers of terrorism. I assume he will applaud when the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which has been approved by the House; and which will most certainly be approved by the Senate and signed by the President into law, is activated. No politician who is sane would vote against this law, because he would be accused of being in favor of terrorists.
So we see one anti-terrorist law after another passed, totally killing the citizen's rights under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Those who have studied the rise of Nazi Germany, starting about 1925, realize the US will slowly but surely arrive at the same place Nazi Germany did.

If you want to read the entire legislation regarding the Homegrown Terrorism Act, you can go to my previous post of the subject and click on the referenced article.
But please read this summary of one section:
"The language of the bill is very broad and includes in its designations of terrorist activity a category of intent. For example, ideologically based violence is defined as the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individuals political, religious, or social beliefs. No force or violence need have occurred; the government commission needs only charge, without the burden of evidence, that an individual or group thought about violence."
I want to emphasize the last part. The government, without burden of evidence, need only charge the individual or group thought about violence.
It appears we are now in the realm of thought crimes. So please be careful what you think, or you may disappear in a secret govenment prison, without information regarding the charges, and perhaps sentenced to do life. And do you think you would get an adequate defence. I doubt it.
And after a few hours of waterboarding, you would probably confess to anything.
We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, or at least we did.

If you search YouTube for "crusher tank" there are a number of videos of this thing, some with the commentary by researchers/others cut out, and some with that video included. Yes, the machine itself can be a little frightening, but what is really scary is the looseness in how the researchers talk about the goal of their program--they're essentially making a gadget that can do stuff, which the military happens to like. Worse, the fellow from popular mechanics (?) sounds like he'll try to make love to the thing any minute, and towards the end he babbles about how this'll lead to technology for the "ordinary person".

I think we should realize that even very smart people, who can build fancy robots, don't necessarily have very well developed ethics (using 10 year old as a standard for well developed) and if DARPA is the only group with money for their toy-making, they'll happily take DARPA money. If there was good NSF money for autonomous vehicles, this would be a civilian project, and DARPA would be scratching its head over how to make a tank out of a system designed for a Prius.

But a lot of military research -- and I am counting those things designed to make weapons more lethal -- is wrong in my view

Dude, being lethal is what the military does, that is what they are for, that is what they are good at (or, if everyone is lucky, they simply threaten to do so without having to actually kill anybody -- but the threat has to be credible). Non X-ray-able shrapnel sounds pretty heinous, but it's just an added twist on top of the basic fact that your country is deploying weaponry designed to shred human flesh. If you're going to have shrapnel, why not have superior shrapnel? And if you're going to have a military, why not have military research?

for me, the only ethical course is to refuse nonetheless to work on military technology...

Why should I care about what you refuse to do? The original poster was telling other people what they should do, in fact calling them "perverts" for their poor career choices. Unless you are a completge pacficist and believe everyone else is obligated to practice pacifism, then you favor practicing some form of legitimated violence, or letting others practice it for you so you don't have to sully your pretty little hands.

Yep, MtRaven still has it right.

Look Herman, your little playschool world is over and it ended in 68. They now know they can hit us and hard, when and where they want.

The Germans were a different lot and directed at the Jews. Be advised, I had family on both sides of this fence in WWII. Couple of course wouldnt surprise you to find out that they were SS. But then again I am 1/4th Hebrew. So how does that set? Dunno, dont care. The home grown act will apply to gangs and illegals and anyone else who doesnt follow the laws of the land. Have to do something to regain control of the streets. How about trials and executions. Lower the standards for execution... See that will give you something else to talk about and how they got rights and the people they attacked, killed, robbed didnt.

I also remind you that this proposed law was introduced by Congress and not the President or Cheney or the John Birch Society. You dont like it? Fine. Go and vote accordingly. The day they start to take up our weapons will be the day that they will have gone over the line. If it happens, I would fear for those that tried it. If the SS had been met with a Jew packing an Uzi in advance of WWII we wouldnt have had it. We would have had those same brown shirts lying in rapidly expanding pools of blood.

Violence is always the last resort. So is torture. If I am going to do either, I will do them well and let God and Santa decide whether I was a bad boy afterwards. You constantly harp about torture and how bad it is...Shit Herman you dont know the half of it. I have seen everything except for the helicopter rides. A 2 pound sledge finger by finger, then the hand. Long about the third finger those guys in C. America got what they wanted or knew that they didnt know. We didnt do it and we didnt cut off any fucking ears either. See Lurch (John Kerry) about that.

As for the speech Herman, I want you to know that I support Louis Farrakhan too. I really do, about 85% of it. Right up until he adds the touch of hate at Israel. He has the problem nailed for American Blacks and they should listen with respect. Thats diplomacy. On the other hand the other 15% makes me clean my rifle often. Just in case.

You again try to put things into peoples positions Herman and thats bullshit. You make assertions and cant back that up. There are no armed police forces running about in the middle of the night collecting people for the camps. You might also be reminded that the government did not act against the brown shirts in Germany. They were a gang and they were NOT the police and thats where this rub ends. You need to go and visit a shrink Herman as I think you are obsessed with this torture and use of weapons and all. Hell, I used weapons and I did it with extreme order of detonation or penetration. In otherwords I killed the bastards I was aiming at. That disturbs you. Okay, it disturbs me too but I can live with it. Pragmatic in fact.

Now if we had done what should have been done years ago which was to knock Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, S. Yemen and especially Syria off their perches we might have had more attacks but we would have less coordinated ones. They are organized now and in the country and they are not AMERICANS because they would be tried and executed as provided under the law if they were. All of the Acts to date have given the government powers they didnt have but did in the 50's.

As for the "others". These people are legal immigrants and they can practice their faith, they can go to work, they can drive their cars. The SECOND that they step outside the law and try a WTC's or an embassy or whatever I am going to fuck them up. I will kill their families, their cousins, their dog and then I would chem weapon the earth so that it would sustain no harvest ever. Yeah, Herman. I am your worst fucking nightmare when I get cranked up. Best way to ensure that I dont get cranked is to let the government specifically the Congress decide what your rights are under this or future regimes. Me, I think its a bad idea to put it into place because the Democrats used the same laws to screw with people in the 60's.. They had illegal break ins, people shot wrongfully on warrants. But oh shit now blame al lof this stuff on GWB. Cant be that we were sitting fat, dumb and happy on 9/10 and none of this was necessary until then. Who did what Herman. Your mind forgets this and when it does acknowledge it, you and others suggest it was an inside job and not the huge fucking airliner running into the buildings. Nope, cant be that.

Warrantless seaches by the way are NOT blanketed. They still have to have probable cause and they also cant tap your phone domestically unless you are talking to an area or person. If they cant ascertain in 1 minute that the call is a terrorist one, they have to cut the tap. Hell they listen to my calls all day long because I do business over there. I got this little light thing on the phone and it lets me know. Great, good to see they are doing their jobs.

Now I dont want it to get out of hand either. It should have an iron hand of Congress on it. Put Waxman on it. He will go thru every call ever made to determine if the government is out of control. For him though any Republican government is out of control... period.

If anything, this is the most tightly worded law I have seen for a while. I dont want it, but if we have to have it, it has to be limited. Get some smoke Herman, you need a break. I actually feel that by expressing myself I am hitting your buttons. I am going to break that now. Wont respond to your diatribe anymore because it goes full circle each and every time. Hear me loud and clear though so you can write it down. Print it in fact. I would kill, torture, maim, butcher and really have a fun time with a broomstick on anyone that would attack US or our allies citizens. You can bet that if I did I would know that he/she knew something that was of utmost importance to get out of them, and that said, I would do the above in the most extreme way I could think of short of killing them. They would be a shambles of a human being left no doubt. Not my problem.

But you know, they always have the right not to do any of the things they do now dont they? Then guys like me dont get wheeled out.

I always have a nice day Herman even with the things I have done. I figure it this way. If God wants me to run to the M.East and kill Muslims he'll let me know. Until then I'll go to dinner with my Pakistani family on the street and help them out as much as possible. Balance, its all about the balance.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 04 Dec 2007 #permalink

"Mr Kruger: I'll take your word that "very, very few have been arrested" in spite of more than 100.000 warrantless searches authorized under the USA PATRIOT act. It doesn't surprise me one bit."
Please read the above statement again and think about what it means. It is fine to kick butt on terrorists until you are the one arrested for a thought crime under the new legislation approved by the House and which will soon become law.
Do you approve of the destruction of citizen's rights protected under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If you are arrested under this new anti-terrorist legislation, the govenrment can kick butt all they want, and citizens can do nothing about it. Is that what you want?
It is easy to talk tough until some government spy turns you in for a thought crime, and then it will not be so easy.

I know you think I am overstating my case, but please read the statement below and study this new legislation.

On October 23, 2007, the House of Representatives passed the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 by a vote of 404-6. The bill will be referred out of committee this week and will then go to the Senate floor. The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers strongly oppose this legislation because it will likely lead to the criminalization of beliefs, dissent and protest, and invite more draconian surveillance of Internet communications.

This bill would establish a Commission to study and report on "facts and causes" of "violent radicalism" and "extremist belief systems." It defines "violent radicalism" as "adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change." The term "extremist belief system" is not defined; it could refer to liberalism, nationalism, socialism, anarchism, communism, etc.

Randy, the issues presented here are deadly serious. This legislation is a threat to every American. If your friend from Pakistan is Muslim and goes to a Mosque, he could easily be arrested under this new law. Please tell your friend to observe carefully the passage of this new legislation.