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Post Drone Strikes, Artificial Intelligence, and the Legacy of Al-Khwarizmi
Created by John Eipper on 02/13/20 5:42 AM

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Drone Strikes, Artificial Intelligence, and the Legacy of Al-Khwarizmi (Mendo Henriques, Portugal, 02/13/20 5:42 am)

Thank you, JE, for being the WAIS guardian.

I recently delivered a lecture about "Conflicts in the Era of Artificial Intelligence" at Lisbon Nova university with a kind of subtitle, the "Algorithm against Al Kwarismi."

On January 3rd in Baghdad, the Iranian general Soleimani was killed by a missile fired from an American drone, controlled from the US Ramstein airbase in Germany.

It strikes me how the most important figure in 21st-century artificial intelligence comes from a native of Khorasan, Iran, who lived in 9th-century Baghdad.

The drone strike that killed Soleimani was an act of war, which crosses several borders and was justified as a preventive action.

On the other side, in the past two years, we followed the Cambridge Analytica case, which used massive databases to manipulate social networks and personal messages in the 2016 US elections.

In both examples, different infosphere capacities were mobilized: GPS systems, remote control, big data, artificial intelligence, "fake news," and personal messages.

However, the first example is a well-studied form of conflict: attacking the enemy. The second shows how we can make the enemy attack itself.

For my lecture, I relied heavily on a recently RAND study, Michael J. Mazarr, Ryan Michael Bauer, Abigail Casey, Sarah Anita Heintz, Luke J. Matthews (2019): Social Manipulation in a Changing Information Environment, RAND, Santa Monica, California.

I wonder what reception the study got in the US.

I found it useful for connecting conflict with artificial intelligence, the Internet of things (and of everything), databases, algorithmic decision-making processes, social networks, photoshop, "videoshop" and "audioshop," augmented reality and so on.

To sum up: a new form of cybernetic conflict (or some other more pleasant designation) is to make the enemy attack itself.

Digital weapons are aimed to the social contract: they dilute the links between individual will and general will; they tribalize us.

JE comments:  My thanks to Mendo Henriques for the melhores cumprimentos!  Al-Khwarizmi (Kwarismi) gave us both the term algebra (from one of his books) and algorithm, which is a Latinization of his name.  There is some (a great deal?) of irony that a medieval Persian set into motion the mathematical operations that led to the death of a 21st-century Iranian general.  From drone strikes to election meddling; Mendo has perhaps identified the great tactical shift of cyberwarfare in all its forms:  use the tools of the enemy to turn the enemy on itself.  Isn't this what the Russians did in 2016?

Mendo, is your presentation available on-line?

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