Understanding Military, Democracy, and Ethics

Actions have consequences. Military actions have very big, wide-ranging, and long-lasting consequences. However, military actions are ultimately within our control. Who we vote for, what we vote for, what we support and what we condemn, are all elements that directly shape our ideas of the military and its use. Understanding these issues is a necessary part of functional democratic participation, as well as an ethical engagement with the world.

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Finding the True Scotsman

The recent trend of “excommunicating” people from various groups, as a rejection of their behaviors, is a bad option for several reasons. Yes, the idea that ISIS members are Muslim sounds abhorrent to Muslims, and the idea that Myanmar’s genocidal government sounds abhorrent to Buddhists. But the attempt to simply call them non-Muslim or non-Buddhists creates far more problems than it solves.

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Assessing the Military Implications of AlphaGo: A Year On

As Deep Mind prepares to retire AlphaGo from professional play, a mere 14 months after its release, the implications for militarized AI are staggering. Following up on “The Military Implications of AlphaGo,” the present analysis explores how the progress of AlphaGo, as well as development of commercial drones and changes in international relations, over the past 14 months, is likely to reshape the role militarized AI.

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Military Implications of AlphaGo

Google Deep Mind Challenge (March 8-15, 2016), is likely a seminal moment not only in Go and human vs. machine competition, but also in military operations. With various databases and robotic tools at its disposal, one can imagine AlphaWar (a hypothetical militarized version of AlphaGo) would be able to take in real-time data from a battlefield and beyond, run a deep analysis of all available data and metadata, prioritize targets, key regions, etc. and carry out appropriate strikes faster and more efficiently – all without human input. The process itself is not new to our military. AlphaWar would only streamline the existing, human-based analysis, make faster decisions, and likely do it all better.

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Value of Traditional Wisdom

Traditional Wisdom includes short stories, sayings, and even jokes, produced as easy to remember/easy to digest bits by various cultures, in order to communicate crucial and complicated ideas to the general population. For all their simplicity, they can serve as an important source of critical thought, and even answer deep philosophical questions, without the need for specialized knowledge.

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The (im)possibility of Translation

Translations are a common part of our every-day experience, whether in terms of world news or texts we read. What we often fail to appreciate is the relative impossibility of translation, especially when complex ideas or texts are in question. To demonstrate this impossibility, the analysis relies on three languages (Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese), with two examples each.

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