In a broad daylight example of everyone’s worst nightmare,  the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) on May 28, 2024 emailed a “Policy Alert” to its membership that the US “Department of Defense (DOD) is requesting input  on how the department can help industry develop artificial intelligence (AI) for defense applications.”

If there was ever any question as to how we might end up with a real world “Terminator” scenario, this is it.

Not only is the combination of AI with weapons systems at the earliest point in its evolution a remarkably (yet unsurprising) premature threat to humanity, it also serves to demonstrate how the world’s systems of governance are perpetually focused on the wrong things in the era of accelerating ecological collapse.

From a Real Economic perspective, one of the most persistent barriers to reorienting humanity toward a symbiotic and rehabilitative mode of co-existence with Earth is the bitter reality that populations enmeshed in conflict are not able to participate in the evolution of a new global ecological priority because they are too busy just trying to stay alive.

The extent to which the United States drives conflict zones around the world is uniformly perceived as unbridled, since, as the largest manufacturer base of weapons systems, it has a tremendous economic incentive to ensure wars are always in progress. And this also serves as a glaring example of why humanity is in the shape its in; prioritizing the economic interest over the ecological interest is a root cause of human ecological degradation.

And now, in 2024, we are beginning to appreciate the ease with which the United States political system can be co-opted to other national interests through the pervasive financial influence of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in donation activity to US senators and congressmen.

In short, financially supporting US politicians has provided Israel an unfettered access to the top tier of weapons systems American defense contractors produce. Meanwhile, in the Ukraine, whose far lesser financial firepower precludes it from injecting large donations into political campaigns, the options for weapons systems are more beggarly and representative of a lower tier of access.

But I digress…

Developing AI weapons systems is emergent realtime threat to humanity, if for no other reason than the debate over AI’s ability to achieve autonomous sentience is far from resolved, and many within the AI are already convinced that the genie is out of the bottle.

Imagine a particularly malicious and sentient AI finding its way into the US satellite weapons defense systems, just as an example. Now, the entire surface of the planet is within the crosshairs of sophisticated and powerful orbiting weapons systems. IF you haven’t seen this video, watch it.

The ability to program lethal targeting into unmanned drones armed with small explosives and base the targeting on a set of physical attributes (i.e. skin color, eye color, geographic location) has already been envisioned. (the video is from 2018).

Slipping Away

Such developments at the government level demonstrate clearly that within the human population, there eixsts and extremely unhealthy representation of those who would drive humanity to extinction. But not through ecological devastation caused by economic naïveté; the juvenile human desire to wield power above everyone else and the destructive devices that result may just render the entire ecological/economic debate moot while we sleep in our beds.

About the Author

James West is the founder of the Real Economic Society and author of the Real Economist. He is an unaccredited ecologist, economist, and organic regenerative farmer seeking to reorient the values of humanity toward a rehabilitative and symbiotic mode of existence on Earth.

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