The US Military Is Quietly Building SkyNet

Maybe Elon Musk had a point…

The US’s military leaders have agreed on a strategy to guarantee the US military retains its global dominance during the twenty-first century: Connect everything with everything, as DefenseOne describes it. The result? An unimaginably large cephapoloidal nervous system armed with the world’s most advanced weaponry, and in control of all military equipment belonging to the world’s most powerful army.

Sound familiar? It should...

A networked military – an extreme take on the “internet of things” - would connect everything from F-35 jets to the Navy’s destroyers to the armor of the tanks crawling over the land to the devices carried by soldiers – every weapon would be connected.  Every weapon, vehicle, and device connected, sharing data, constantly aware of the presence and state of every other node in a truly global network.

Of course, the development of these “smart” weapons should unnerve Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has repeatedly warned that AI and machine learning poses a greater threat to the future of the US than North Korea. If not properly regulated, Elon suggested that machines could turn against their human masters.

“Until people see robots going down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react because it seems so ethereal,” he said.


“AI is a rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive. Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’s too late.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff described their vision for a completely networked military in the newest iteration of their National Military Strategy, which lays out their plans for building the military's weapon of the future. Ironically, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said he had based the plan on a certain money-losing electric-car manufacturer. Goldfein was particularly impressed by Tesla’s ability to remotely extend the battery life of vehicles as their owners fled Hurricane Irma earlier this month. 

In recent months, the Joint Chiefs of Staff put together the newest version of their National Military Strategy. Unlike previous ones, it is classified. But executing a strategy requiring buy-in and collaboration across the services. In recent months, at least two of the service chiefs talked openly about the strikingly similar direction that they are taking their forces. Standing before a sea of dark- blue uniforms at a September Air Force Association event in Maryland, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said he had “refined” his plans for the Air Force after discussions with the Joint Chiefs “as part of the creation of the classified military strategy.”


The future for the Air Force? The service needed to be more like a certain electric-car manufacturer.


“Every Tesla car is connected to every other Tesla car,” said Goldfein, referring to a presentation by Elon Musk about the ways his firm’s vehicles learn from their collective experience. “If a Tesla is headed down the road and hits a pothole, every Tesla that’s behind it that’s self-driving, it will avoid the pothole, immediately. If you’re driving the car, it automatically adjusts your shocks in case you hit it, too.”


Goldfein waxed enthusiastically about how Tesla was able to remotely increase the battery capacity of cars in the U.S. Southeast to facilitate evacuation before the recent hurricanes.


“What would the world look like if we connected what we have in that way? If we looked at the world through a lens of a network as opposed to individual platforms, electronic jamming shared immediately, avoided automatically? Every three minutes, a mobility aircraft takes off somewhere on the planet. Platforms are nodes in a network,” the Air Force chief said.

As DefenseOne explains, the idea of a networked military borrows from the  “network centric warfare” concept that first emerged more than a decade ago. However, the concept that military leaders proposed in their latest review is less a strategy for increasing efficiency than a plan to connect all military equipment on a single network. The result would be better coordinated, faster, and more lethal operations in air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace.

The Air Force has begun making broad investments in data sharing. And its experiments with next-generation light tactical attack aircraft are as much about hardware as networks, he said. “Not only what can I buy and what can they do, but more importantly, can they connect? Can they actually share? And can we tie it to a new network that’s based on sharable information that gets me beyond the challenges I have right now in terms of security?” Goldfein said.

The Air Force Science Board is studying how to control a network of military equipment including light attack aircraft, tanks and even unmanned drones. James Chow, the board’s new head, told DefenseOne the study would also consider how to connect to other services.

As DefenseOne explains, although most of the research into the networked military is being conducted by the Air Force, once implemented, any system would likely include weapons from across the military, like Navy destroyers, said Chow.

“Our scope would be in helping the Air Force to think about operations they would be conducting that would incorporate joint sensors and platforms, like destroyers, I think that has to be part of it. And that is within the charter of the study,” Chow  said, adding that the study has “the highest priority level for Air Force leadership.”

The Marines are also looking at tanks that are digitally connected through their armor, according to Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, who leads Marine Corps Combat Development Command and serves as Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration. Navy leaders have also authorized research into connecting every object on the sea, land, air, space and in cyberspace. This is no exaggeration. Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, said during a Navy expo earlier this year that he’d eventually like to “network everything,” explaining that creating such a system would be crucial to maintaining US military dominance.  

In an amusing aside, DefenseOne notes that, despite the obvious parallels, military leaders detest comparisons between their tech pet projects and anything from the plot of the Terminator franchise.

And while enabling instantaneous communication between military units would undoubtedly improve efficiency and tactical prowess, as Musk as pointed out, these projects should be undertaken cautiously.


Escrava Isaura BarkingCat Fri, 09/29/2017 - 04:59 Permalink

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Mtnrunnr: What terrifies me most is that people like Donald Trump AND Hillary Clinton will ultimately control this. Because these are the apex predators of intelligence power. Power, consciously or by instinct, has the ability to understand and accept that the core problem of humanity is genetic replication. Our genes keep reproducing to survive but, our reproductive gene never accounted that our intelligent gene would make us live longer and larger. Now we have a population overshot problem on the bottom and a small group living larger at the top. Population growth and intelligence are the core problems of humanity, and the intelligent gene is taking the lead here by developing the structures to protect them.  Will that work? And, for how long? Time will tell…………….But you need to be part of the small group, if you want to survive another day. The bottom is almost finished, because they lack power and they work within small structures.  

In reply to by BarkingCat

Tarzan Escrava Isaura Fri, 09/29/2017 - 07:08 Permalink

The elite, or apex predators as you aptly describe, are desperate.  They are building a network of, if we go, we'll take the world with us.  The entire world financial system is based on the philosophy of self preservation, through the fear of mutual destruction.One small nation, like Greece, failing financially can take out the entire system, thus they continue to bail them out.  The same is done militarily, with the nuke deterrent of mutual destruction.So we find a NWO plagued by their weakest link.  This will be it's limiting factor, a world order of Iron and clay. The NWO will fail spectacularly! But not before a blood bath...Prepare yourselves for what's coming, not to join a mob, but to hunker down and survive the chaos,or keep whistling Dixie America, maybe it will all pass....

In reply to by Escrava Isaura

ThanksChump Tarzan Fri, 09/29/2017 - 08:01 Permalink

If one understands the limits of current technology, then one also understands that this is just techno-bureaucracy in overdrive, and like all bureaucracies, such a thing is more laughable than fearsome. IoT is useful, but without genuine machine intelligence it's just toasters telling the coffee pot that breakfast is almost ready - a convenience thing. Genuine machine intelligence does not, and likely never will, exist. The minute it exists, we're all toast, and no one will be around to tell the coffee pot. Fear porn for the lakkies... Jesus wept, then went to hang out in Home Depot's parking lot.

In reply to by Tarzan

LightBulb18 ergatz Fri, 09/29/2017 - 03:05 Permalink

I think you are abdicating your responsibilities, and denying people the blessings and ideas they need to actually fight and defeat evil. At best you can hope that the entire revelation can be communicated without any violence or support for fascism anywhere. Somewhat an absurd starting point considering the current raging wars, and extremly unlikely for the current standards of the people in the world right now.

In reply to by ergatz

Lore tmosley Fri, 09/29/2017 - 05:19 Permalink

@ tmosley: Agreed. That series was a shambles long before the dismal end.Getting back to the article, the dynamics are interesting.  This takes "5th-generation warfare" bullshit to a new level.  Apparently, it's seen by at least some in the military-industrial complex as the holy grail of cash cows, plausibly marketable (by false-flag means, presumably) as the last, best way "to keep you safe" and "fight terror" or whatever.The most evil aspect is the way it eliminates the human element. Gone is the natural reluctance on the part of a person of conscience to pull the trigger on a fellow human being.  Militroid progress in this regard has been slow but steady for a very long time, starting with deep brainwashing of young minds and culminating recently in remote-operated vehicles that enable desk jockeys to bomb a wedding party or blow up a hospital before lunch.  In the new environment, conscientious operators are intended to play even less of a role.  It's the ultimate "fire-and-forget." (Who's doing the firing?) The warnings of the Terminator franchise could not be more relevant.  "Smart" weaponry is the militroid's wet dream: "It can't be bargained with; it can't be reasoned with; it doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead." - Kyle ReeseAnd it would be foolish to presume that such technocracy won't be turned against the domestic populace "for your benefit."  There's perverse irony in the recognition that techno-totalitarianism brings destruction marketed as salvation. but such is the way of things with psychopaths in charge. More realistically and fortunately, thinking of past experience and emergent market realities, the macabre vision will never be realized, as the product will be as misdirected, lackluster and broken as the ending to Battlestar Galactica. 

In reply to by tmosley

Lore BennyBoy Fri, 09/29/2017 - 05:44 Permalink

The bulk of damage wrought by an EMP will be to the unprotected civilian surface grid, not military systems, which are supposedly "hardened" (shielded / protected) against EMP -- but thinking of the fabled Russian plane / USS Donald Cook incident and similar stories, who knows? EMP is the first reason why I chose to disregard cryptocurrency as a replacement for conventional currency or money. Distributed or not, a ledger is still nothing more than a database: a list.  It's foolish to confuse it for a store of value.  One way or another, the market is going to demonstrate the true value of all crypto-lists. (The very name is an in-your-face inside joke: the literal translation of 'cryptic' is "having a meaning that is mysterious or obscure."  Remember 'Swine Flu?'  How is this any less obvious?) 

In reply to by BennyBoy

fockewulf190 Lore Fri, 09/29/2017 - 06:48 Permalink

Yeah well if the "civilian" grid is fried by a man made EMP pulse or from another Carrington Event, the biggest problems will we all be facing is how to keep the nuclear power plants from turning into Fukushimas everywhere. Even more dangerous, is how to keep the spent nuclear fuel rod pools from evaporating. Without constant cooling, the rods will start to react and explode, spewing massive amounts of radiation into the atmosphere and contaminating the entire globe. Point being, your military may be hardened against such attacks and be capable of survival, but only for as long as the poison outside can be kept at bay.

In reply to by Lore

HalinCA Lore Fri, 09/29/2017 - 05:25 Permalink

This is driven by the attempts to 'get inside' the enemy's  OODA loop. Russians/Chinese/Indians claim to have cruise missiles that hunt 'in packs' and that any of them can act as scouts, decoys, etc.  They dynamically reconfigure their attack pattern to maximize the chances of getting the primary target [our CVNs] and after the primary is gone, the focus shifts to the lesser value targets.The Iranians, to me at least, have proven the ability to spoof GPS and are working on disrupting the comm link for guiding our F18s onto ships in bad weather.  Assuming they can do that, and they are sharing ideas/technologies with Russia and China, I'd say we have  some serious problems on our hands:- Can we trust our positioning systems to deliver PGM anymore?- Can we trust our inter platform communication links?For years now China Lakes conducts GPS testing that affects GPS accuracy all over Eastern CA and Southern Nevada.  FAA announces the timing, duration, and affected areas when they do the testing.  This testing did not begin until ater the Iranians forced that drone down ... But by now we all should realize trusting AI and autonomous killing devices is a bad idea ...

In reply to by Lore

Lore HalinCA Fri, 09/29/2017 - 06:28 Permalink

Thanks. Many ZHers (myself included) are handicapped by lack of prior study.There are interesting ramifications with regard to sense of self and place in the battlefield.  One can glimpse the challenges involved, but also potential workarounds. Trivially: the ultimate OODA loop is pre-emptive.

In reply to by HalinCA

cheeseheader Herd Redirecti… Thu, 09/28/2017 - 23:09 Permalink

“Every Tesla car is connected to every other Tesla car,” said Goldfein, referring to a presentation by Elon Musk about the ways his firm’s vehicles learn from their collective experience. “If a Tesla is headed down the road and hits a pothole, every Tesla that’s behind it that’s self-driving, it will avoid the pothole, immediately. If you’re driving the car, it automatically adjusts your shocks in case you hit it, too.”~~~~~~~~~~~So. if one tesla catches fire, then all those behind it catch fire also?  (one can only hope...). I'm telling you, I am so through with the mere mention of this clown elonski. Throw-up material....

In reply to by Herd Redirecti…

NoDebt IH8OBAMA Thu, 09/28/2017 - 20:26 Permalink

It's more likely that we'll find our that our own military is a shell of it's former self.  A military built for counter-insurgency ops the last 20 years being thrown into a REAL war against a REAL opponent would probably still win but at a loss of life nobody would accept.  If you even saw the procurement processes for the military (I have) you would be shocked at how much money is paid for shit that flat-out doesn't work and never will.  They can barely get the F-35 to work and we're worried about them making something as technically complex as Skynet work?  On paper, maybe.  In the real world, no way.  Not in a thousand years.  The rot that's happened in this country and it's government has infected the military like everything else.

In reply to by IH8OBAMA

FixItAgainTony runnymede Fri, 09/29/2017 - 03:08 Permalink

Improvements to automated decision making for strategic weapons won't come from US weapon labs, but some other top dog's. Therefore, it will be programmed for total ferocity in decapitating the US empire and fighting the DoD hegemon to the ugliest death possible as everybody now knows we don't do diplomacy and we never keep our word.

Most other major powers have very long histories that required real sacrifice, so they will be willing to risk mass causalities to achieve decisive victory.

I can only imagine the Joint Chiefs bugging out to the COG bunkers when the Pentagon big board goes all red. After all, what would be worth saving? The country's industry and workers are basically already destroyed.

In reply to by runnymede

hongdo NoDebt Thu, 09/28/2017 - 21:34 Permalink

I guess they will have to figure out how to make pencils, rulers and compasses "things" on the network since that is how the Navy has now dictated that Navy ships calculate tracks to avoid collisions.Officers were not always as dumb as they seem now.  After Vietnam those left were very practical and conservative. Sobered by a real war and not a fabricated drama.   A series of purges over the years flushed the non-PC compliant out (ie the ones with initiative and leadership skills).  I knew a lot of them.  As I said numerous times it all turned into play-acting.  When you write all the after action reports and news headlines with no minority report, you can be a hero regardless of facts - for a while.Every one now has to sell some flim-flam to gain a quick rep in a short tour.  First throw out the earlier guys idea, no one got promoted for finishing someone elses idea, then sell your pie-in-the-sky concept.  Therefore no continuity.If you were in procurement you would have seen the old cartoon about procurement of the tire swing.

In reply to by NoDebt

RockySpears NoDebt Fri, 09/29/2017 - 05:57 Permalink

ND,  WE cannot make it work, but if only a tiny bit of "code" suddenly "gets it" and starts doing things properly, then maybe we have stuff that works really well, but we did not build it.   I guess that is what we should be looking for, Military stuff that actually works, because then we will know that WE did not design/build it, RS

In reply to by NoDebt