Thursday, April 18, 2024

All the perfumes of Arabia


Artificial Intelligence human targeting Lavender Holocaust banality of evil statistics moral bankruptcy genocide collateral damage cynicism

Israel’s human targeting software and the banality of evil

“Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”

—William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1

For some unknown, but no doubt morbidly humorous reason—the same sick humour, perhaps, that leads the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to refer to their periodic punitive strikes on Gaza as “mowing the grass“—the IDF have decided that “Lavender” is an appropriate name for the artificial intelligence (AI) software they use to identify “human targets” in Gaza.

Since October 7, IDF strikes have killed at least 33,545 Palestinians including 8,400 women and over 13,000 children, injured another 76,049, and left 8,000 more missing, presumed buried under the rubble. The blitzkrieg has destroyed over 60 percent of Gaza’s housing stock, made two million people homeless, and left most of the strip uninhabitable.

Israel’s supporters deny that this bombing has been “indiscriminate” (as Joe Biden himself recently called it). They are right. It is worse. Seldom in the history of human conflict have so many bombs been so deliberately aimed at targeted individuals.

The great science fiction fear has always been of AI escaping human control and the machines taking over, as in The Matrix films. The story of Lavender suggests, on the contrary, that the real danger arises when the awesome data-crunching capacities of AI are put in the hands of human beings.  (more...)

All the perfumes of Arabia

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