So They’re Experimenting with Military Robots in Gaza Now

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One of the most horrifying facts about this dystopia we live in is that large-scale military operations are routinely used as testing grounds for new war machinery, using human bodies as guinea pigs for experimentation in what amount to giant blood-soaked field laboratories — all to benefit the strategic objectives of empire managers and the profit margins of the military-industrial complex.

Haaretz has a new article out titled “Gaza Becomes Israel’s Testing Ground for Military Robots”, which reports that “In an effort to avoid harming soldiers and dogs, the IDF has been experimenting with the use of robots and remote-controlled dogs in the Gaza War.”

(Yeah because my gosh, can you imagine how terrible it would be if Israeli soldiers and dogs got harmed while carrying out a genocide?)

The article’s author Sagi Cohen reports that drone-mounted robot dogs and remotely controlled bulldozers are two of the new apocalyptic horrors currently being battle-tested in Gaza, saying “defense establishment officials confirm that there has been a leap in the use and sophistication of robots on the battlefield.” Which is a pretty disconcerting sentence to read.

In an effort to avoid harming soldiers and dogs, the IDF has been experimenting with the use of robots and remote-controlled dogs in the Gaza War https://t.co/jGV1yl7pOd

— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) March 3, 2024

This news comes out at the same time as a new Public Citizen report warning of the likely imminent arrival of autonomous weapons systems which will kill people with minimal instruction from human pilots, saying “The most serious worry involving autonomous weapons is that they inherently dehumanize the people targeted and make it easier to tolerate widespread killing, including in violation of international human rights law.”

The more normalized robots become within the world’s militaries the closer we come to this point, and steps are already being taken in that direction. As Common Dreams’ Thor Benson notes in an article about the Public Citizen report, “Israel has purchased and at times deployed self-piloting, lethal drones.”

Back in January I wrote that

“Gaza is a live laboratory for the military industrial complex,” saying “Data is with absolute certainty being collected on all the newer weapons being field-tested on human bodies in Gaza (just like has been happening in Ukraine) to be used to benefit the war machine and arms industry.”

What sparked this comment at the time was reports and first-hand witness accounts we’d seen coming out about the prolific use of IDF “sniper drones” in Gaza since October, with Israeli forces frequently shooting Palestinians with quad drones armed with rifles. Copious records are most assuredly being compiled on the effectiveness of these newer weapons and tactics in ending human lives, which will then be used to help market those weapons to other states and to improve their efficiency in killing.

When I say this is most assuredly happening, I am not being hyperbolic for effect.

Author and journalist Antony Loewenstein gave a lengthy interview on The Chris Hedges Report back in December about Israel’s long and extensively documented history of using Gaza as a testing ground for new weapons, spyware, surveillance and security systems, AI, drones, and tactics, which has profited scores of corporations and enabled Israel to become a player of outsized success in the global weapons industry. 

“Israel’s drones, surveillance technology including spyware, facial recognition software, and biometric gathering infrastructure, along with smart fences, experimental bombs, and AI-controlled machine guns are all tried out on the captive population in Gaza, often with lethal results,” says Hedges in introduction. “These weapons and technologies are then certified as ‘battle-tested’ and sold around the world.”

This doesn’t only happen in Gaza. This past September The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “The War in Ukraine Is Also a Giant Arms Fair,” subtitled “Arms makers are getting orders for weapons being put to the test on the battlefield.” In January of last year CNN published a report titled “How Ukraine became a testbed for Western weapons and battlefield innovation,” with one source saying that Ukraine is “absolutely a weapons lab in every sense because none of this equipment has ever actually been used in a war between two industrially developed nations.”

And of course we are also seeing this same phenomenon in Africa. In 2021 Mintpress News published a report by Scott Timcke titled “West Africa is the Latest Testing Ground for US Military Artificial Intelligence” about this very same trend. In 2020 Libya saw what is believed to have been the first time a human being has ever been killed by a fully automated drone attack — that is, killed without the machine having been told to do so by a human.

The other day we discussed how the empire’s great weakness is that it depends on normal human beings to carry out its orders and turn the gears of the machine. If you look at the facts and think about them for a moment, it’s not hard to see how the empire managers are hoping to overcome this weakness in the future.

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Caitlin Johnstone