Archive for January, 2012

Swarms and Boids

30 January 2012 2 comments

I’m currently working my way through the audiobook of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. A great many topics are discussed, including “swarms” – autonomous flying robots that follow three simple rules:

  1. Separation: steer to avoid crowding local flockmates
  2. Alignment: steer towards the average heading of local flockmates
  3. Cohesion: steer to move toward the average position of local flockmates

More info on one such project can be found here.

As an offensive exercise, think of the METTTC requirements (for both sides) for an “airfield denial” mission utilizing a swarm, launched by FreeFor.

As a defensive exercise, think of the METT-TC requirements (for both sides) for a “cache hunter” mission launched by the OpFor.

See also: boids (not Boyd, but you should read him too) and these DIYers.

Are you tracking? Because autonomous bots will be.

But fear not. Autonomous bots are still a ways away, though closer than some people think. The semi-private sector leads the way in developing these technologies. They’re the ones not funded by the .gov, who open-source their findings and developments – the hobbyists. And like ArcPat says, what man creates, man can defeat. One of the weaknesses of the OpFor’s birds is the communications path – from eyeball to satellite to receiver to control station, each link is expensive and vulnerable.

The gumball beneath a Predator’s fuselage? It costs one quarter of the Predator’s multi-megabuck price tag. Shoot that while it’s on the ground, and it will become a giant fan with wings.

The receiver dish that sends and received commands? Take an antenna class and you’ll learn just how vulnerable those things are to electromagnetic interference, and how much their shape influences their transceiving capabilities. Then you’ll realize how vulnerable they are to ballistic interference.

Expand your horizons.

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Dear Son

28 January 2012 10 comments

(I hope the readers of this blog will pardon the long absence, and understand the reason I’ve been away for so long. Family comes first. Regular blogging resumes with this post.)

My precious Junior Rifleman,

Welcome to the world. Your mother and I have been eagerly anticipating your arrival, and have been quite busy these past few months. You have been a massive upsetting effect on our daily OODA loop since your invasion, but it has been a wonderfully welcome one.

You enter this world at a critical moment. For the past three decades or so, your mother and I have experienced a decrease in our liberty that was at first gradual, but by now it runs at a frightening pace. When we first became adults according to the legal definition, we were enthralled with the political, and actively advanced the agenda of what is referred to today as the Republican Party. Since then, we have changed, and you will hear us refer to it as the Imperialist, Fascist, or Dead Elephant Party as you grow up. They sometimes oppose, but often complement, the Democrat Party, which we refer to as the Socialists. In truth, you could refer to either party with either description, but we’ll try to be consistent.

I ask you to forgive us. Our actions in our youth shame us today, for when we advanced the Imperialists we forced our precious inheritance, Liberty, to retreat. That we did not see the retreat at the time makes our actions all the more shameful. As a result of our sin against you, we are forced at this point to begin our preparations for a civil war that grows ever more likely every day. Whether that war takes the form of a general decay in law and order and a rise in totalitarianism, or the sudden arrival of a Napoleon- or Lincoln-like character, I cannot say. But I will say that I will, from this day forward, do everything within my power to restore to you at least as much liberty as I had when I was born. That is a tall order, but it is the least that I can do.

In the course of my remaining life, you will learn a great many things from me. I pray that you will follow after the original Liberating Libertarian, Jesus Christ. I’ll explain more of what that means as you grow, but know this now: if you are not willing to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, you cannot have any meaningful understanding of liberty. But even if you follow that Golden Rule, I pray that you will want Liberty for yourself, and therefore, for others. There are many people today who do not want liberty, for it requires a responsibility, not only to your contemporaries, but also to your posterity. You are my posterity, and to set the example for you, I will be responsible for and with my liberty, so that you may have it yourself and treat it properly.

You may wonder who the statue is at the top of this post, and what he has to do with what I write to you today. It is the likeness of a man named Isaac Davis, who lived a very long time ago and understood that Liberty requires not only preparation for its continuation, but also sacrifice. He was the commander of a militia unit from Acton, Massachusetts, and made sure that every man under his command had a musket, a bayonet, and a cartridge box. That is the example of preparation we should follow. As for the sacrifice …

On the day the soldiers came to take some of his liberty, he was forewarned by another preparation that had been made. As he left to repel the soldiers, he turned to his wife and said “Take good care of the children.” He did not return.

If it comes to that, and I must go to defend Liberty and not return, know that I leave you in the care of your mother, a woman at least as dangerous to the enemies of Liberty as I, both mentally and physically. Obey your mother, cherish your Liberty, and know that I watch from Heaven.

Make me glad to call you my own little Son of Liberty.

Your father,
The Virginia Rifleman