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Pentagon Drafts Kids To Build Drones and Robots

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the war-kids dept.

Education 173

MrSeb writes "In a world where warfare is fast becoming fielded by remote controlled and autonomous robots, innovation is the key to victory. The most technologically advanced superpower can see more, plan better, and attack from further away than its inferior adversaries. What better way to revolutionize the drone and robotics industry than use the brilliant minds of our children? That's what DARPA and the Defense Department's research and development arm thinks, anyway. The Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach Initiative, part of the Adaptive Vehicle Make project, is slated to reach a thousand schools in and out of the country, roping in the brightest minds to develop robotics and advance technology in new and interesting ways. Funded by the Department of Defense, the program comes with a steep cost: The DoD wants unlimited rights to everything the students build. It sounds almost like something Orson Scott Card would dream up."

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Too much Hollywood for you?? (2, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838343)

"In a world where warfare is fast becoming fielded by remote controlled and autonomous robots..."

You've been watching way too many sci fi movies to make that statement.

Besides that US, I don't think any other country has the kind of robotic arsenal you're dreaming of.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (4, Informative)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838377)

See: Remote Control War [imdb.com] , available on Netflix watch it now. It may not be the robotic arsenal _you_ are dreaming of, it's a different one, and probably bigger and more capable than you imagine.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838453)

"Besides that US, I don't think any other country has the kind of robotic arsenal you're dreaming of."

The US spends almost as much each year on the military as the entire rest of the world combined. It's hard to even count how many conflicts we're currently involved in. We're the trendsetters. And robotic warfare is the trend we're setting.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (4, Interesting)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838659)

"Besides that US, I don't think any other country has the kind of robotic arsenal you're dreaming of."

The US spends almost as much each year on the military as the entire rest of the world combined. It's hard to even count how many conflicts we're currently involved in. We're the trendsetters. And robotic warfare is the trend we're setting.

The U.S. spends 5% of GDP on military endeavors, down from 10% 50 years ago. Perhaps still too much, but less than a lot of countries.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (2)

thelexx (237096) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839239)

According to this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures [wikipedia.org]

the US outspends everyone on a GDP basis except Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Israel, Eritrea, and Chad.

And on an actual dollar basis, the difference is truly staggering.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839729)

According to this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures [wikipedia.org]

the US outspends everyone on a GDP basis except Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Israel, Eritrea, and Chad.

And on an actual dollar basis, the difference is truly staggering.

According to this page [wikipedia.org] , a big part of that U.S. military spending can be attributed to the fact that we pay our soldiers, rather than conscript them.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (2)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839269)

"Besides that US, I don't think any other country has the kind of robotic arsenal you're dreaming of."

The US spends almost as much each year on the military as the entire rest of the world combined. It's hard to even count how many conflicts we're currently involved in. We're the trendsetters. And robotic warfare is the trend we're setting.

The U.S. spends 5% of GDP on military endeavors, down from 10% 50 years ago. Perhaps still too much, but less than a lot of countries.

Your using percentage of GDP to make it seem like the US spends hardly anything on the military. That is, at best, misleading. Half of our national budget goes to the military.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures [wikipedia.org]

The US military budget exceeds the rest of the world's combined military budget by $200 billion. Our military budget represents about 43% of world military spending. We spend 586% more than China, which is second place (our budget is about $700 billion, theirs is about $120 billion). The only country that spends more as a percentage of GDP is Saudia Arabia (10.4%) and their GDP is considerably smaller than the US.

No matter how you look it, we spend A LOT more on our military.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839323)

Half of our national budget goes to the military.

That's so wrong it's not even wrong.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (1)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839413)

The US military budget exceeds the rest of the world's combined military budget by $200 billion. Our military budget represents about 43% of world military spending.

I'm, not disagreeing with your basic point, but the above two statements are mutually exclusive.

Mod DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839511)

That isn't the point. The point is that the US government's military spending absolutely dwarfs every other country on the planet. The fact that the US government takes in shockingly more revenue every year than any other country is an entirely different statistic (but equally appalling.)

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839675)

Someone's been reading "How to Lie with Statistics"!

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838497)

Besides that US, I don't think any other country has the kind of robotic arsenal you're dreaming of.

Given that the US robots are dropping like flies all over Asia, I can think of some countries that soon will.

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838583)

Everything from a guided missle to a remotely controlled drone (armed or unarmed) fits the classic definition of a robot. We call them drones because it's weirdly more politically correct to say, "We sent a (drone/missile) to country X to kill some (insurgents/terrorists)" rather than "We sent a robot to country X to kill some people."

Re:Too much Hollywood for you?? (5, Insightful)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838675)

We call them drones because they do not do actions (other than stabilization or stay on course) without initiating the action by a human. Robots do things automatically without user intervention - i.e car manufacturing by a robot is completely automated via sensory/trigger input unless a an interrupt is encounter to stop. In actuality we should be calling the remote operated vehicles (ROV) but drone rolls off the tongue easier.

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838657)

By some measures, the U.S. government is the most violent government that has ever existed. The U.S. government has 6 times the percentage of citizens in prison as European countries. The U.S. government has invaded or bombed or interfered destructively with 27 countries since the end of the 2nd world war. The U.S. government killed more people in Iraq than Saddam Hussein. The U.S. government believes it can torture or kill anyone at any time. The U.S. government can require executives of U.S. companies to take actions without disclosing what was done.

In comparison, taking intellectual property while giving little in return is a smaller crime, but it is a crime.

In what other country would Newt Gingrich or George W. Bush be considered a serious candidate for public office? They are or were candidates only because they deliver corruption.

All of that destructiveness will soon become much worse. The U.S. government is trying to arrange a war with Iran. That will benefit people like the Bush family who have investments in companies that profit from war. It will benefit Israelis who want U.S. taxpayers to pay for Israel's security. It will hurt U.S. taxpayers who will discover that their money will lose value even faster than before.

Re:The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838941)

[sarcasm font on] Yes, but you really are failing to see the benefit here. These countries are blessed with an abundance of natural resources which the military rulers are pissing away by enslaving the people and buying guns from non-Democratic based countries. By intervening we are allowing our democratically based companies to help these poor people develop their natural resources and improve their lives. We only take our half of the revenue as fair compensation for helping to develop these countries and the lives of the people. We help these people develop their self esteem and independence as we educate them in how to properly serve in crony capitalism.

This is not corruption; this is enlightened self interest. [sarcasm font off]

That's crappy (0)

Alunral (2477578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838357)

Well that certainly doesn't sound good at all. Since when do we make/coerce/trick the children into doing work? And then not pay them a single dime. And then say they can't have a single right to anything they make. Godsdamn does that sound terrible. Worst part is that it'll be in schools, so you can't really get away from it...

Re:That's crappy (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838411)

It all works out in the end. Orson Scott Card foretold of this and how it will lead to us defeating the Buggers, which opens up the galaxy to Human colonization.

Re:That's crappy (0)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838483)

Well I'd rather see kids using their mind this way then Newt's plan of putting kids to work cleaning their schools for pennies a day.

Re:That's crappy (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838711)

The problem comes when the kids grow up and decide to use this against their former masters. Adults don't often switch sides unless immediate survivability is on the table.

Re:That's crappy (4, Funny)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838857)

The problem comes when the kids grow up and decide to use this against their former masters

Yes, but when that happens, it's because those kids have to right the wrongs. they do noble things like find a new world for the hive queen to live on and learn the ways of the piggies, and redeem humanity. Though it's true, they are never quite as interesting as when they were kids.

Re:That's crappy (1)

Brian Feldman (350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838779)

To be fair, "unlimited rights" does not have the same meaning as "unlimited exclusive rights." It is a shitty summary though, and as with any samzenpus article, I feel dirty by spending more than a few seconds dedicated to it.

Not at all shocking. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838359)

The DoD wants unlimited rights to everything the students build.

Just like Apple wants rights to the e-books made with their ebook software,

Or how Corporations want the rights to whatever you create, on or off the clock.

How many of you remember the old days when DARPA made a CAD package with tax dollars and felt the citizens should have full access to that source code?

Re:Not at all shocking. (2, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838633)

Just like Apple wants rights to the e-books made with their ebook software

Apple doesn't want the rights to the ebooks made with iBook Author - all they say is any book made with their software, which they provide for free, can only be distributed ,in Apple's iBook format created by the software, by them. The author owns the content and can do whatever else they want with it, just not with Apple's software.

While I would like Apple to release a version of iBook Author that created a standard ePub formatted file that could be used on other devices, and I would pay for such software, I don't think their current terms are unreasonable and the notion that "Apple wants the rights" is simply FUD.

Re:Not at all shocking. (1)

dabadab (126782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838795)

"Apple doesn't want the rights to the ebooks made with iBook Author - all they say is any book made with their software, which they provide for free, can only be distributed ,in Apple's iBook format created by the software, by them."

Sorry, but all you do is to prove the OP's point: the copyright grants the author the right to distribute his work as he sees fits - and Apple wants this right for themselves for ebooks made with iBook Author. Q.E.D.

iAuthor (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839019)

You're not an author. You're an iAuthor.

Re:Not at all shocking. (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838643)

How many of you remember the old days when DARPA made a CAD package with tax dollars and felt the citizens should have full access to that source code?

People wanted for the longest time for the Govt to operate as a business to find efficiencies and cost savings. Well, operating as a business means that income needs to be generated by investments. So that is what they are doing, using their income (tax) to generate more income (patent holdings).

Re:Not at all shocking. (1)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839147)

All things considered, the Gov offer is extremely generous and pretty much standard for any government science and technology effort. The government is paying for the effort and all "unlimited rights" means is that they want to have access to the work so that they can use the technology in their efforts and eventually have a product manufactured. They do not force you to give your information away to anyone else. You can still patent/copyright whatever you create and make money off of it in the commercial world. That is not such a bad deal because a lot of people would argue that if the project is using tax payer money, then the resulting information should be put into the public domain.

Ender's Game: The Prequel (1, Informative)

critter42b (657340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838387)

"New and interesting ways" = "biggest body count possible"

Re:Ender's Game: The Prequel (2)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838823)

How long until insurants in Iraq, Afghanistan etc use Raspberry Pi devices to power their IEDs? Add some USB semtex, a camera (for manual booby-trapping), 3g/wifi connectivity, solar power (or a small battery). The poor man's drone!

Re:Ender's Game: The Prequel (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839393)

"biggest body count possible"

You are either a troll, or seriously uninformed about history and current events.

If it was about body count, we'd just carpet bomb entire areas containing anyone we thought was trouble, using technology we've had handy for over half a century.

But it's not, which you would know, if you bothered to digest any information (or admit it to, if you weren't a lying troll). We've lost thousands of soldiers precisly because it's not about body count. Our rules of engagement in places like Iraq and Afghanistan grotesquely favor murderous insurgents over peacekeepers. Try paying attention, huh?

Portal 2 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838389)

Why does this bring to memory the "take your children to work day" in the game? "Here, kid, see this potato? That's boring, let's play with a grenade!"

Card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838399)

Nah. If Card had dreamed it up, we'd be telling the kids it was just a video game.

OSC (1)

Matt Sam (2507148) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838401)

Ender's Game was my first thought reading this.

Time well spent (2)

slidersv (972720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838409)

Well, at least kids are not going to do drugs after school. And it'll give them common intellect-based goal, creating communities of capable people, which in turn can spur interesting startups and just maybe even the next Google. It's just so much better to invest in people, than to buy overprised pieces of outdated warfare machinery. Manhattan project also sounded pretty evil, but it turned out to be pretty good.

Re:Time well spent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838529)

Well, at least kids are not going to do drugs after school... ...And it'll give them common intellect-based goal, creating communities of capable people

...who will be working on killing other communities of capable people.

Re:Time well spent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838539)

I somehow doubt that most of the kids doing drugs after school are the ones that DARPA will be targeting. I'm not saying they wouldn't do drugs, I'm saying the cool kids won't sell them to them.

Re:Time well spent (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838565)

Fully agree w/ this - that's exactly my thought. This way, kids get good practical experiences that they can put on their resumes, and use later on in their line of work. It also reduces the need for conscription, and since such products are consumable items, some of which will be destroyed by enemies, it will have to be manufactured. Since it's a defense item, it's not something whose manufacture can simply be dumped on China. This could start the trend of some manufacturing coming back to the US, and such technologies becoming dual use later, going into ciivilian use. Now, if only something could be done about preventing such manufacturing from later on slipping into China. Probably, by then, the cost of Chinese manufacturing would be high enough that it won't be an advantage for the US to move manufacturing there.

Re:Time well spent (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839503)

Instead of children, it should be young men and women who want to get trained in plane maintenance. Before you learn how to fix them, you start by building them. The Air Force could take over a final stage of assembling the drones. Send approved (for security) vendors a parts list, and buy from each what you need. Have parts delivered to an Air Force assembly location. Have young men who want a free education in assembling and repairing planes put them together, for which they get paid. Force the defense contractors to compete for price on parts, which would hopefully drive down prices instead of allowing them to run out of control like in the F-22 and F-35 boondoggles, where the companies don't need to worry about price because they know they've already won the bidding and the government is unlikely to walk away from buying the hardware because voters will vote out a few representatives and senators if the spending is shut down.

Insufficiently radical thinking... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838413)

Why use the brilliant minds of our children to merely build drones and robots when we could use the brilliant minds of our children to control drones and robots?

As a bold step down our path toward becoming a computerized, transhuman dystopia, I suggest, nay, Demand, the following proposal be enacted:

All the nation's youth shall compete in brutally demanding cyber-athletics championships. Every year, the most superb competitors will be selected for the Ceremony of Transcendence. After a celebration of their excellence, their brain-meats shall be harvested and join the honored ranks of the Bottled Warriors, fully modular brain support and interface tanks suitable for high-density containerized installation for remote control of America's drone assets, or direct incorporation into locally controlled robotic weapons platforms.

There would be a minor downside, in that the battlefields of the future would start to sound like the hell-world of Xbox live, as LRAD units with the minds of 14 year old gamer kiddies scream "NOOBFAGGOTHACKER!" loud enough to turn a man into gooey paste; but our combination of mindblowing immaturity and stonehearted resolve would terrify our foes into submission...

Re:Insufficiently radical thinking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838471)

but our combination of mindblowing immaturity and stonehearted resolve would terrify our foes into submission...

Yeah, because re-electing W worked so well...

Re:Insufficiently radical thinking... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838733)

Fuzzy Fuzzy Fungus, you may be a fungus, but you are a very funny fungus.

Human rights violation? (2)

dokc (1562391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838417)

I would say that every use of children for military purposes of any kind is a violation of international human rights: Military_use_of_children#International_human_rights_law [wikipedia.org]
and especially interseting part is:
"Under Article 8(2)(a)(xxvi) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted in July 1998 and entered into force 1 July 2002; "Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities" is a war crime."

Re:Human rights violation? (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838467)

Yeah that's a pretty big stretch.

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838557)

And if you read what the program is about it is for "High School Age" kids which leaves pretty much just freshman under 15.

Re:Human rights violation? (0)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838801)

Excellent! Let the slaughter begin!

Re:Human rights violation? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838891)

Remember you can't have slaughter without laughter!

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

qbast (1265706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838473)

Well, US ratified neither Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court nor Convention on the Rights of the Child. So everything including "Ender's Game" scenario is legal.

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838477)

I would say that every use of children for military purposes of any kind is a violation of international human rights: Military_use_of_children#International_human_rights_law [wikipedia.org]

and especially interseting part is:

"Under Article 8(2)(a)(xxvi) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted in July 1998 and entered into force 1 July 2002; "Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities" is a war crime."

Huge difference between designing weapons and participating actively in hostilities.

Re:Human rights violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838589)

tell that to Isreal and other alledged nations who alledgedly thinks scientists and engineers are legal targets...

Re:Human rights violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838933)

It makes them into targets because at that point they are, like it or not, military assets and contributers. I see this to be a poorly thought out plan.

Re:Human rights violation? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838491)

But this isn't participating 'actively,' any more than is paying taxes to a government that spends part of them on war.

Re:Human rights violation? (0)

dokc (1562391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838663)

But this isn't participating 'actively,' any more than is paying taxes to a government that spends part of them on war.

True, but how do you feel knowing that your money is used to killed people, using weapons designed by your kids?

Re:Human rights violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839033)

But this isn't participating 'actively,' any more than is paying taxes to a government that spends part of them on war.

The people working on nuclear installations in Iran aren't participating 'actively', but it doesn't stop them being murdered, apparently by agents of a foreign power.
How would you feel about laying the US' brightest children, working on weapons of war, open to the risk of murder by foreign agents?

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838501)

This doesn't mean that it is a good idea; but I'm pretty sure that sitting around CADing up robots for DARPA would have to be stretched pretty hard to be construed as "conscription or enlistment into the national armed forces" or "participating actively in hostilities".

If anything, it is a substantial step less direct than existing JROTC stuff, or even some of the Boy Scouts-esque programs that maintain a bit of their historical connection to WWI/II-era nationalist enthusiasm for development of the nation's fighting men...

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838649)

"Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities" is a war crime."

They are not conscripted into the armed forces so that is not valid.
They are not enlisted into the armed services so that isn't valid.
They are not participating actively in hostilities.
I also didn't see any ages in the link so they may even be targeting this program more to high school so the under 15 years of age might not come into it.
In other words you are complete wrong and proven so by the reference that you have provided. This is no different than teaching children math, science, first aid, or frankly even PE.
A groundless inflammatory reply to a groundless inflammatory story. The new Slashdot marches on.
Next on Slashdot how Romney and the Mormons are part of the Illuminate and how right wing elements in the government are holding president Obama's children hostage to keep him from making real changes!

Re:Human rights violation? (1, Troll)

dokc (1562391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838717)

They are not conscripted into the armed forces so that is not valid. They are not enlisted into the armed services so that isn't valid. They are not participating actively in hostilities.

All true, but it doesn't make it less scary. Children will be used to design weapons.

A groundless inflammatory reply to a groundless inflammatory story. The new Slashdot marches on.

Oh, sorry, I didn't know you are from Disneyland. Well, in the real world people die from real weapons. Sorry if mentioning that on slashdot hurt your feelings.

Re:Human rights violation? (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838965)

"All true, but it doesn't make it less scary. Children will be used to design weapons."
So what you are saying is that that the post that I replied too was in fact completely invalid and while everything I stated was in fact the truth it just doesn't matter.

"Children will be used to design weapons."
No they will not. This is a DARPA program. The "kids" will not be tasked with designing weapons. They will not be given projects like "Build a robot that can shoot 10 people but not hit friendlies". Get real this will be a basic science project kind of program. They will be given project like, create a robot that can travel through sand, gravel, and mud.
You are the one living in fantasyland not I. You are so blinded you dismiss pure manipulation when you see it because you happen to believe in the goal.
Look at your own reply. You said that I was 100% correct and factual but that didn't matter and throw you some vague emotional attack at me.
Really, have critical thinking skills completely disappeared?

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

dokc (1562391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839401)

"All true, but it doesn't make it less scary. Children will be used to design weapons." So what you are saying is that that the post that I replied too was in fact completely invalid and while everything I stated was in fact the truth it just doesn't matter.

I want to say that not everything is black and white as you are learned to believe and how you want to look at this mater.

"Children will be used to design weapons." No they will not. This is a DARPA program. The "kids" will not be tasked with designing weapons. They will not be given projects like "Build a robot that can shoot 10 people but not hit friendlies". Get real this will be a basic science project kind of program. They will be given project like, create a robot that can travel through sand, gravel, and mud.

How do you know that? And what "This is a DARPA program" means for you?
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military.

My point is that children will be used to create weapons. Directly or indirectly it doesn't mater.

You are the one living in fantasyland not I. You are so blinded you dismiss pure manipulation when you see it because you happen to believe in the goal.

What is wrong in believing in the goal?! In what should I believe? Please, help me to see the manipulation here.

Look at your own reply. You said that I was 100% correct and factual but that didn't matter and throw you some vague emotional attack at me.

I didn't say you are 100% correct and you can't be because you don't know all the facts related to this project (neither can any of us here). The whole story here (and that is a reason why we are posting this on slashdot) is that we have strong opinions about some subjects. I am against war and against violence of any kind. For me is this story a red flag. It's your right to think otherwise...

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838881)

As if the US gives a shit about international conventions, at least when applied to them.

Re:Human rights violation? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839175)

I would say that every use of children for military purposes of any kind is a violation of international human rights

And you're certainly welcome to that opinion, however:

and especially interseting part is:
"Under Article 8(2)(a)(xxvi) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted in July 1998 and entered into force 1 July 2002; "Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities" is a war crime."

The law you cited doesn't state that. Are the children being conscripted or enlisted? No, they are not being inducted into the armed forces in any way. They are no more a part of the US armed forces than a defense contractor (which is arguably what they are) is. Are they actively participating in hostilities? No.

Re:Human rights violation? (2)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839359)

I would say that every use of children for military purposes of any kind is a violation of international human rights: Military_use_of_children#International_human_rights_law [wikipedia.org]

and especially interseting part is:

"Under Article 8(2)(a)(xxvi) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), adopted in July 1998 and entered into force 1 July 2002; "Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities" is a war crime."

According to the website, they are not necessarily designing military items. It specifically identifies items like go-carts and mobile robots in the program description. However, I will agree to the extent that having the military involved in education is a slippery slope as it has the potential for abuse and really is no value added. The reason that the military is involved in this is that Congress has budgeted a specific amount of money for STEM. Congress could just as easily provide this money to other organizations for STEM or to schools directly with the stipulation that it is used to build extracurricular STEM programs. Perhaps an effort should be made to advocate for this money being given to programs through differenet means or as an alternative, put safegaurds in place to protect children from the loss of innocence that comes from building war machines.

not a new idea (3, Interesting)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838427)

somebody watched Toys [imdb.com]

Cool idea... Wrong agency to do it. (2, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838459)

I wouldn't feel as bad if it was something done by the National Science Foundation (NSF) or NASA. However having the DoD do it where their emphasis is security and not science makes me worry. There is also the feeling that this will teach our children that it is okay for the government to spy on its citizens with drones and robots. At least with NSF and NASA there is the pretext that this could be done for science in a grand scale like remote sensing (drones) or in hostile environments like deep sea exploration or vulcanism (robots).

Re:Cool idea... Wrong agency to do it. (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838747)

It's science...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_science

Sorry, I'm being a bit of a cad.

Re:Cool idea... Wrong agency to do it. (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839055)

I thought it was funny.

Boy, now THAT's thinking of the children. (1, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838463)

Gee, before we only had to worry about the mental fragility of adult engineers who "accidentally" stumble across and create the next atom bomb or nerve agent, and the psychological repercussions of creating a weapon of mass destruction...and now it seems they want kids doing that work.

Not quite sure there's an easy or gentle way of letting little Susie know that her cool little science experiment was responsible for 3 million lives lost. Good luck with that.

Re:Boy, now THAT's thinking of the children. (0)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838695)

Not quite sure there's an easy or gentle way of letting little Susie know that her cool little science experiment was responsible for 3 million lives lost. Good luck with that.

Every life "lost" on the other side is lives "saved" on the side of righteousness and virtue. Old spin, heavily practiced and usually accepted by little Susie, especially if you can prejudice [yahoo.com] her against the opponent.

Re:Boy, now THAT's thinking of the children. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838713)

I find it hillarious that, armies are now seeking to weponize drones, and effectivly remove soldiers/pilots from the battlefield, not because it would be the next logical step, but because they're cheaper.

Too many drones? (1)

lcam (848192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838479)

We are going to need anti-drone technology soon. Maybe we should enlist kids for that program while we are at it.

Drafting Kids ? (1)

brutaltruth (1147069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838505)

In the latest months of WWII, when lacking adult soldiers, the German army drafted kids, too... Are the USA at this point of exhaustion ? (oops, did I win a Godwin, here ? ;) )

Re:Drafting Kids ? (1)

lcam (848192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838567)

I think the point with the plan is to get some unbias ideas from creative minds. The true irony is that the brilliant child mind(s) that eventually get implemented will probably be used against that same individual as well as his or her entire cohort during their adult lives.

Re:Drafting Kids ? (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838707)

In the latest months of WWII, when lacking adult soldiers, the German army drafted kids, too... Are the USA at this point of exhaustion ?
(oops, did I win a Godwin, here ? ;) )

You are close. Before the war, the Germans supported several programs encourage kids and hobbyists to make things like planes and rockets. They used the ideas and the education value to build their war machine into the most advanced army in the world. I think that is what the US is doing now.

Note: My post is not a Godwin. These German programs are not what made the Nazis evil. It's simply what made their war machine the most advanced. What started as a group of hobbyists called the Verein für Raumschiffahrt grew into the Saturn V and put man on the moon!

Sub-urban US towns now legitimate military targets (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838511)

What nobody seems to be mentioning here is that remote controlled war robots will make civilian areas legitimate targets.

I remember seeing something about an Air Force Officer who "commutes" to the battlefield from his sub-urban Colorado home. Gets up, has coffee, sends the kids to school, jumps in the car, drives to the mountain AF base, gets in his office chair, flies the drone to the target, kills someone, finishes up the day, and goes and meets the kids home.

Sounds good?

His sub-urban town is now a legitimate military target.

Re:Sub-urban US towns now legitimate military targ (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838763)

What nobody seems to be mentioning here is that remote controlled war robots will make civilian areas legitimate targets.

This has been true since the Blitz in WWII, all of London was a "legitimate target", as was anything else. There were occasional moments of spontaneous decency on both sides, but churches still got bombed by all.

Economic sanctions target the entire population, why wouldn't you expect retaliation in-kind?

Decent idea I suppose (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838513)

There's a lot to be said for ignorance, bunch of kids playing around my do something that is considered stupid or that'll never work by experts.
TV Tropes has a few real life examples.
DANGER TVTROPES link http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AchievementsInIgnorance [tvtropes.org]

Creativity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838517)

So the only creativity we can count on is the creativity that the schools and colleges and corporate and government bureaucracies haven't completely crushed out of our kids?

Precision Killing (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838531)

Well, if it turns out anything like that story about a girl inventing a new way of combating cancer, we'll have one terrifyingly precise strike force. "We'll just release these tiny robots onto the battlefield, and when they cling to the terrorists, we'll scan them with a beam that triggers the robots to release X to immobilize/kill the bad guys and leave the good guys unharmed."

Tone it down a notch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838591)

You're all being silly. The DoD wants to encourage students to go into math and engineering, so they're having a student competition to build robots. It's not some conspiracy.

War is important! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838593)

We can't have kids learning how to create the next version of the computer, better car, next generation viral drug, or energy source. I mean, where would we be without the ability reign down mass death on civilians by mistake?

Yeah, Kids don't know better yet... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838599)

Look Mommy, I'm building a drone. Its gonna come down and shoot us... isn't that cool?

Re:Yeah, Kids don't know better yet... (2)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38838861)

Mommy: What did you do at school today? Johnny: My drone killed 4,500 people.

Did anyone go to the DARPA website? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838613)

Did anyone go to the DARPA website and read what they're doing? They have lots of material on the objectives of the effort. They talk about signing contracts with several large companies and universities. This is your standard DARPA effort for thinking outside of the box. And I saw nothing, I repeat nothing, that suggests that DARPA is trying to subvert the youth of this country.

America is quite safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838637)

DARPA needs to be defunded, end of story. The nation needs to get out of the war machine business. America is quite safe.

And they complain about African countries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38838859)

Boy soldiers, child labour, etc. where will it end?

Please re-read with Dramatic Anouncer voice. (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839007)

"In a world where warfare is fast becoming fielded by remote controlled and autonomous robots, innovation is the key to victory. The most technologically advanced superpower can see more, plan better, and attack from further away than its inferior adversaries. What better way to revolutionize the drone and robotics industry than use the brilliant minds of our children?"

Hollywood, listen up. I might actually want to see this movie.

On second thought, it might have to be an indie film due to the controversial nature -- Many people find brain extraction and cyberization [youtube.com] quite offensive, especially when the minds of children are on the table...

kind of stale data...BAA closed in 2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839029)

Whoever wrote the summary just copied the blurb from extremetech, which itself was poorly written. Go track back to the actual DARPA BAA.

The US govt is putting up cash, *of course* they get unlimited rights.. they bought them. You expect the govt to give you money to develop new whiz bang tech, and they don't get to use it?

Second, this is part of a big DARPA push for Open Source. THis is SlashDot...we should be jumping up and down saying "you go, DARPA" They're paying for unlimited distribution, not the usual "limited government rights"

Finally, this was for a program in 2010, and the BAA has been closed for more than a year.

Publicly funded research (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839043)

Funded by the Department of Defense, the program comes with a steep cost: The DoD wants unlimited rights to everything the students build.

How is this different that the call for all government funded University research to be publicly available?

Is the DoD asking for exclusive access, or just access? Will they be able to take a kid's research, classify it, and forbid that kid from ever working in that area again? (See Gordon Gould and his laser research for an example)

Next they'll invite some kids to play wargames (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839079)

"See, Mr. Wiggin, in this game you're in charge of this *simulation* of a robot invasion of Iran, using the robots you and your classmates designed last term. Let's see how you get on... ... some time later ...

"I'm going to nuke them from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

* BOOM *

"Well gee, thanks, Mr. Wiggin. Oh, about it being a simulation? We lied."

Now we can have more sons of bitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839101)

n/t

It's not child labour if it's a competition (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839125)

even though we get to keep your entry for ourselves </sarcasm>

And those that don't do well... (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839133)

...get put in the sweat shops instead.
Welcome to China 0.4

Where do they get the kids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839161)

I hope it is from a special school.... where all the kids are orphans... and any could take over as pilots for these drones.

Ender's Game is here at last (1)

bennebw (1113233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839473)

Who would have thought the reality would get here before the movie.

A bit paranoid are we? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839489)

Having seen what even freshman college students "design", I seriously doubt a kid's going to build the next predator drone. I suspect this is more PR than R&D. And it's pretty normal for the government to ask to get to use what it pays for. Subby needs to take the tin foil hat off.

No different than corporate ownership of patents (1)

mindcandy (1252124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38839509)

I don't see how this is any different than the agreements most of you signed at work .. basically if you produced it on the company's dime (or using the company's resources) .. it's their product.

If you and your clever friends are so inclined, go talk to a venture capitalist, get some startup funding, build and patent some drones .. and then SELL them to the DoD.

Part of the advantage of doing it as part of this project is the DoD will bend all sorts of rules for you that would make it all but impossible for a 15yr old to do in the backyard. See how fast the ATF/FAA come past when you figure out how to drop flaming bags of poo from a model airplane.

Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839513)

I don't know about you, but when I send my kids off to school in the morning I'm secretly hoping that the school is working with the military to allow my child to design new and better ways to assassinate people.

It's investment in tech. What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839551)

Jeesh! All I hear about is that the US is falling further and further behind in tech ed and now there's a program to address it and all I hear is complaining.

THE KIDS GET A TECHNICAL EDUCATION. What's the problem.

What? You thought their end product would be peaceful? Ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. HA HA HA HA.

Morons.

This superpower failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38839681)

to actually win its most recent two wars. So this desperate and indoctrinating move is not all that surprising, but neither is it a happy move. It won't help make the world a better place.

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