Based on a data archive, each miniature sphere in the above image represents an existing object orbiting in space.
There are around 22,000 objects in orbit that are big enough for officials on the ground to track.
What are they all doing up there?
How can we ever know for sure what their purpose is?
AM I THE ONLY ONE WHOM THIS IMAGE MAKES CLAUSTROPHOBIC?
LOOK AT ALL THOSE THINGS!
Above: NASA's new "cubesats", mini-satellites sent up in"swarms".
"MILITARY ROBOTS AND THE FUTURE OF WAR", ALTHOUGH CREATED IN 2009, IS A VERY GOOD EXPLANATORY VIDEO OF WHERE WE'RE HEADED. AND WE'RE HEADED THERE AT "WARP SPEED".
JUST A FEW RECENT HEADLINES:
~ The Robot Tank That’s Taking on ISIS in Iraq’s Battle for Mosul
~ The future of war will be robotic - CNN.com
~ BBC - Future - Killer robots: The soldiers that never sleep
~ Military and Police Robots of the World
~ The Morality of Robotic War - The New York Times
~ Do Killer Robots Violate Human Rights? - The Atlantic
As bizarre as it sounds, the United Nations just held an arms-control conference to figure out if killer robots might violate the laws of war.
Bionic technology has enhanced people's lives with everything from robotic limbs to electronic eyes.
I WOULD NOT HAVE IMAGINED, EVEN 25 YEARS AGO, THAT WE'D SEE SUCH HEADLINES AS THOSE ABOVE IN THE YEAR 2016.
HOW QUICKLY TECHNOLOGY HAS ADVANCED!
BUT IS THIS A TRULY GOOD THING OR SHOULD WE RAISE ALARMS?
FEW MAY REALIZE THAT BEFORE TERMINATOR, NASA LAUNCHED A SATELLITE NAMED SKYNET I, IN 1969....YES, ALMOST 50 YEARS AGO.
WHILE THAT WAS A BRITISH ENDEAVOR, WE FOLLOWED SUIT WITH OUR OWN 'EXPERIMENTS'.
1977...Space environmental effects on the SKYNET 2B spacecraft.
Publication Date: Feb 24, 1977
Large surface areas (approximately 1 sq m) of the Skynet I qualification model satellite were exposed to the environments of a flux of monoenergetic electrons and pulsed high-intensity X-ray photons from an exploding-wire-radiator source, separately and simultaneously.
The SKYNET 4 constellation consists of three spacecraft which were launched between December 1988 and August 1990.
The spacecraft are three-axis stabilized geostationary earth-orbiting MILITARY communications satellites with a design life of seven years on station.
The improved Stage 2 satellites (4D, 4E and 4F) were built by Matra Marconi Space and Astrium to replace the earlier versions.
Improvements included increased power and resistance to electronic jamming.
Skynet 4D was launched in 1998, 4E in 1999 and 4F in 2001
Skynet 5 is the next generation of satellites, replacing the existing Skynet 4 Stage 2 system.
The first of the constellation of Skynet 5 vehicles (Skynet 5A) was launched by an Ariane 5 rocket at 22:03 GMT on 11 March 2007, in a launch shared with the Indian INSAT 4B civil communications satellite, and entered full service on 10 May 2007.
The second Skynet 5 UK MILITARY communications satellite (Skynet 5B) was launched at 22:06 GMT on 14 November 2007, from Kourou in French Guiana.
The third Skynet 5 UK military communications satellite (Skynet 5C) was launched at 22:05 GMT on 12 June 2008, also from Kourou.
The fourth Skynet 5 UK military communications satellite (Skynet 5D) was launched at 21:49 GMT on 19 December 2012, again from Kourou in French Guiana
NASA to Launch 'Swarms' of Small, Earth-Observing Satellites.
WE'RE TOLD IT'S TO TRACK CYCLONES, HURRICANES, TYPHOONS, WHATEVER ONE CARES TO CALL THEM...
NASA Will Launch Swarms Of Cyclone Tracking Microsatellites
NASA's latest innovation: swarms of tiny satellites - CSMonitor.
"Starting later this month, NASA plans to launch a group of very tiny satellites into space.
These cutting-edge devices will orbit the Earth, taking atmospheric measurements, monitoring storms, and studying factors associated with climate change. They will also serve as tiny stepping stones toward NASA's new focus on small satellites, or "smallsats," as an alternative to bulkier traditional satellites."
I JUST CAN'T BE HAPPY ABOUT THAT.
CALL ME PARANOID, BUT WITH THAT TOP-SECRET, UNMANNED PAIR (OR ARE THERE STILL 4?) OF ORBITING X-37 SHUTTLES (OTVs) AND RUSSIA'S DESTROYED BURAN SHUTTLE DOING WHO-KNOWS-WHAT UP ABOVE US, NOPE, I DON'T SEE THE GOOD THAT WILL COME FROM "SWARMS".
[BTW, as of 11 October 2016, the OTV-4 vehicle has spent 509 days and 8 hours in orbit. What's the X-37 Doing Up There? | Space | Air & Space Magazine]
OUR EARTH IS ALREADY SWARMED BY MAN-MADE SATELLITES.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
BESIDES...."NASA's Secret Relationships with U.S. Defense and Intelligence Agencies" , National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 509, did not assuage my concerns one bit.
On the contrary, it made me wonder even more what really goes on "up there".
NASA HAS A 'DARK SIDE', AFTER ALL...
"Because of security classification, very little of the story of NASA's hidden relationships with the DoD and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the spaceflight area has been made public until now.
The documents presented were obtained in the research and writing of Spies and Shuttles: NASA's Secret Relationships with the DoD and CIA.
Most were declassified by agencies under the automatic/systematic declassification review program or acquired through declassification requests. They are grouped into the following categories:
~ NASA as a consumer of intelligence
~ NASA's assistance to analyzing intelligence on foreign aeronautical and space programs
~ NASA's participation in cover stories
~ NASA's acquisition and use of classified technologies in its lunar exploration program
~ Restrictions on NASA's remote sensing programs
~ NASA's application satellites and national security requirements
~ Space Shuttle
BEYOND SCIENCE FICTION...
Science fiction has, for many years, looked to a future in which robots are intelligent and cyborgs are commonplace.
Movies like The Terminator, The Matrix, Blade Runner and I, Robot are all good examples of this vision.
While the public flocks to theaters to be entertained by futuristic thrillers, the U.S. Defense Department is quietly working to make the convergence of artificial intelligence and autonomous robots a present reality.
The Defense Department is racing with nations like China to design functional robotic fighter jets that serve as wing men for manned aircraft.
Along with semi-autonomous aircraft, the DOD is far along in developing autonomous submarine hunting crafts that can cover thousands of miles of territory without the help of humans.
Until the last decade, consideration of what this might actually mean in the future was unnecessary because it was all science fiction, not scientific reality.
RECENT ARTICLES SHOW US TWO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES:
NOV. 11, 2016, DISCOVER MAGAZINE
1~ On Friday, AI2 expanded its artificial intelligence-based search engine, Semantic Scholar (link is external), to the field of neuroscience. The launch is just another step toward AI2’s long-term vision: bringing man and machine together to advance science and save lives.
NOV. 11, 2016, DAILY MAIL, UK
2~ Russia unveils killer robots that can seek and shoot humans from more than FOUR miles away.
he final product aims to accurately distinguish between enemy and allied troops with total autonomy.
TOTAL AUTONOMY... A MOST DISCONCERTING TERM.
Retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee has logged thousands of hours engaging in simulated battle with artificial intelligence aircraft and has proven, overall, that man remains superior to machines.
Lee holds extensive aerial combat experience as an instructor and Air Battle Manager with considerable fighter aircraft expertise and makes a most worthy pilot to test the worthiness of AI's.
Recently, however, the retired top gun has found himself consistently outmaneuvered by a new AI developed by a University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate.
The artificial intelligence (AI) , titled Alpha, was the victor in that simulated scenario, and according to the Colonel, is "the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I've seen to date".
Autonomous robotics and artificial intelligence are no longer on the back burner but rather at the forefront of military technology.
THE NEW REALITY HAS ARRIVED.
Science has been very busy catching up to science fiction while, at the same time, introducing practicalities that the original fictional story lines didn’t appear to include.
TODAY there are several different experiments linking biology and technology together in a cybernetic way—essentially ultimately combining humans and machines in a relatively permanent merger.
We must now consider the robot which has a biological brain made up of brain cells, possibly even human neurons, neurons grown under laboratory conditions on an array of non-invasive electrodes.
[MY NOTE: THAT ARTICLE, "The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics" is very in-depth and most disturbing when one does consider the ethics involved. I hope you get a chance to read it all.]
Growing networks of brain cells in vitro (around 100 000 to 150 000 at present) typically commences by separating neurons obtained from foetal rodent cortical tissue.
They are then grown (cultured) in a specialised chamber, in which they can be provided with suitable environmental conditions (e.g. appropriate temperature) and nutrients.
An array of electrodes embedded in the base of the chamber (a multielectrode array, MEA) acts as a bidirectional electrical interface to/from the culture. This enables electrical signals to be supplied to stimulate the culture and also for recordings to be taken as outputs from the culture.
The neurons in such cultures spontaneously connect, communicate and develop within a few weeks, giving useful responses for typically three months at present. For all intents and purposes, it is rather like a brain in a jar.
That development will raise many social and ethical questions.
Would such creations have "rights"?
If such robots have far more human neurons than in a typical human brain—for example, a million times more neurons—would they, rather than humans, be preferred when making decisions for humanity?
Many human brain–computer interfaces are used for therapeutic purposes to overcome medical or neurological problems in humans, and can be seen as giving people abilities that humans don’t normally possess—in other words, human enhancement.
Connecting a human brain with a computer network via an implant could, in the long term, open up the distinct advantages of machine intelligence, communication, and sensing abilities to the individual receiving the implant.
Such experimental cases indicate how humans—and animals, for that matter—can merge with technology.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE "NORMAL" HUMANS IN COMPARISON?
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THOSE WHO EITHER CREATE OR ARE GIVEN SUCH "ENHANCEMENTS" CAN BE TRUSTED TO EMOTIONALLY AND ETHICALLY DEAL WITH THOSE, TO NOT SEE THEMSELVES AS SUPERIOR, AS BETTER QUALIFIED TO BE IN CHARGE OF....EVERYTHING?
WE HAVEN'T STUDIED THE VERY LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF MUCH OF ANYTHING, JUST RUSHED HEADLONG INTO IT.
Cyborgs Among Us: Human 'Biohackers' Embed Chips In Their Bodies
Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, for example, has several implanted chips, which may very well define him as a cyborg.
He is one of 7 "cyborgs" named in the article linked above.
Groups like International Committee for Robot Arms Control, Human Rights Watch and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots actively advocate an outright ban on the development of autonomous weapons systems (AWS).
AS ONE WEBSITE WARNED:
It has been observed that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity, and humanity has been known to plunge ahead without regard to the possible consequences of its inventions.
With self-driving cars now roaming our streets and the exponential growth of artificial-intelligence-driven robotics, the wisest observers say such technologies may not need to be banned but they should be carefully regulated.
LOOKING BACK ON 70 YEARS OF "PROGRESS", LET ME JUST ASSURE YOU THAT MUCH OF WHAT WE'VE DONE HAS BEEN IN HASTE, MUCH HAS BEEN TO MAKE SURE WE DOMINATE IN EVERY FIELD, AND THAT DESIRE, THAT "NEED" TO DOMINATE CAN CAUSE MANY PROBLEMS, CREATE MANY THINGS THAT, IN HINDSIGHT, WE'D BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT.
HAD WE NOT SEEN THAT NEED TO DOMINATE WE WOULDN'T HAVE CREATED NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
THE ENTIRE PLANET WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE WITHOUT THOSE, WE MUST ADMIT.
IF YOU CAN'T LOOK AT THAT IMAGE OF ALL THOSE SATELLITES ORBITING ABOVE US AND SEE THAT THE SHEER VOLUME OF THEM ALL HAVE TO AFFECT HOW WE RECEIVE SUNLIGHT, THAT ALL THAT HIGHLY TECHNICAL JUNK MAY BE PART OF WHAT'S WRONG "DOWN HERE", THAT IT'S JUST TOO MUCH, THEN YOU'LL LIKELY BE JUST FINE WHEN HUMANS, NORMAL HUMANS, ARE PASSE'...ANTIQUATED, EVEN UNNECESSARY.
IF 'ROBOTIC WARFARE' DOESN'T SEEM TO CARRY WITH IT THE POSSIBILITY THAT WE'LL COME TO VIEW WAR AS WE DO A VIDEO GAME, THEN WORLD WAR WON'T SEEM LIKE A BAD IDEA TO YOU, MAYBE.
THE MANIACS AT CERN's LARGE HADRON COLLIDER SEARCHED FOR THAT "GOD PARTICLE", SCIENTISTS FROM ALL FIELDS SEARCH FOR THE 'BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE' AND MAN HAS LONG TRIED TO "PLAY GOD"... TO BECOME THE RULER OF HIS OWN 'DESTINY'....BUT, IN DOING SO, ALL OF THE ABOVE MAY HAVE SEALED THE FATE OF THE REST OF US.
WE MAY BE RELEGATED TO THE CLASSIFICATION OF "HAS-BEENS", A GROUP OF BILLIONS OF HUMANS WHO ARE JUST NOT NEEDED TO RUN OR PARTICIPATE IN THAT "BRAVE NEW WORLD".
TIME WILL TELL...AS IT ALWAYS HAS.