The Coming Lethal Autonomous Future

Though I’ve spoken of their potential upsides, there are still a lot of challenges to overcome before any lethal autonomous robot is ever deployed. For Defense One, I explore some of them: Drones have been hackable for years. In 2009, defense officials told reporters that Iranian-backed militias used $26 of off-the-shelf software to intercept the ...

Capturing Terrorists is Hard

Over at Beacon (subscribe here!), I explain why capturing terrorists is so difficult. The politics of capturing terrorists can be challenging for two reasons: the governments in question may not agree on custody of the prisoner, and in many cases the local government is extremely sensitive to any action involving U.S. boots on the ground. ...

Revenge of Meatspace

Over at War is Boring, I wrote about the arrest of Silk Road founder Ross William Ulbricht. On Wednesday, the FBI announced a fascinating arrest: they had nabbed Dread Pirate Roberts, or DPR, the founder of Silk Road, a black-market Website famous for selling narcotics over the Web. In the indictment, the Bureau listed activities worthy ...

Challenges facing the IC in InfoSec

Over at TPM, I wrote a feature article about the looming cultural clash between hackers and the intel community. For the Intelligence Community, Snowden was a scary example of someone who once believed in the government’s position but had turned, suddenly it seemed, resolutely against it. Technology website Ars Technica dug up enthusiastic old posts ...

BEACON: A Broken Political System

My latest piece for Beacon is about how the shut down is only the latest crisis of legitimacy for the federal government. What the GOP is saying through its shutdown gambit is that it has decided to reject the system of American government. When the politics don’t break their way — and when they lose ...

Robo-Ethics: Do Autonomous Weapons Pose Greater Ethical Dangers or Rewards? (Video)

Robo-Ethics: Do Autonomous Weapons Pose Greater Ethical Dangers or Rewards? (Video)
I had the tremendous pleasure this week of visiting the Naval Postgraduate School, where I participated in a discussion with Dr. Heather Roff and Dr. Bradley Strawser about the ethics, morality, legality, and practical implications of allowing weapons to autonomously make lethal decisions. The full session is below:   [LINK IS HERE]   I’ll be writing ...

A New Platform for Writing

Starting today, the substantial analytic blogposts that normally appear here a couple of times per week will be appearing at my new perch over at Beacon. It’s a new platform where readers actually pay for the content writers produce — a novel concept! You can subscribe to me here, it’s how you can support, for ...

Chemical Weapons = Boots on the Ground?

Last week, I wrote for Defense One that securing chemical weapons in Syria will require boots on the ground. As the talks between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov play out, it’s worth keeping in mind: In the midst of a raging civil war, dismantling chemical weapons is practically impossible. “We’re talking boots on the ground,” a ...

The Israel MOU: What We Don’t Know

The Guardian published another NSA document today, this time about a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSA and Israel’s SIGINT agency, ISNU, that looks worrying. The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data withIsrael without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals. Details ...

Keen Perspective on Snowden

Paul Pillar is unexpectedly blunt in his rather disparaging portrait of Edward Snowden. Snowden, and his collaborators such as Greenwald, had a shrewd public roll-out plan. They started with the stuff about NSA collection activity within the United States, to get on the good side of a lot of public opinion by having Snowden pose ...