Does the adage “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” apply to high tech?
Blake Resnick, CEO of BRINC, a company in the chase to sell drones to police, has developed a drone equipped with stun guns, according to The Intercept. Resnick is a 21-year-old entrepreneur who recently received $25 million in venture capital from Silicon Valley investors. Resnick was recently inducted into Forbes’ “30 under 30” list and is a recipient of a Thiel Fellowship.
Resnick appears to be an impressive young man.
According to The Intercept, Resnick told Stuart Varney of Fox Business his company’s drones are now helping police defuse dangerous hostage situations on a near-daily basis. In the interview, Resnick repeated the claim that he created the company “in large part” as a response to the 2017 Las Vegas massacre. Resnick wanted to help law enforcement to save lives with nonviolent robots equipped with artificial intelligence.
Resnick looks to be a rising star in the world of high tech. According to BRINC’s Values and Ethics page, the company will “Never build technologies designed to hurt or kill.” This falls in line with its commitment to “save lives” and its promise not to “build dystopia.”
Resnick may be dreaming of a highway to heaven but could the road he is paving lead to hell?
BRINC faced backlash when a 2018 promotional video showed that a “Wall of Drones” would be used to “attack migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.”
Blake Resnick claims that Brinc was founded “in large part” as a lifesaving response to the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. But a company promo video reveals a different vision: selling Taser-armed drones to attack migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. https://t.co/ZMBfDb8sqH pic.twitter.com/k3pnN2uubA
— The Intercept (@theintercept) December 14, 2021
Three years later, Resnick told The Interceptor in emails that the promotional video for the drones “is immature, deeply regrettable and not at all representative of the direction I have taken the company in since.” The Wall of Drones, Resnick said, was “never fully developed, sold, or used operationally.” The program was discontinued in 2018 because it is “prone to disastrous misuse.”
Well said, Mr. Resnick. The notion “with great power comes great responsibility,” dates back at least to the parable of the sword of Damocles, popularized by Roman politician and philosopher Cicero in 45 B.C.
The sword was given to Damocles by powerful King Dionysius who was sick with worry over being assassinated. Dionysius, you see, kept order in his kingdom by the use of an iron fist. Damocles thought he was flattering Dionysius one day when he told him how blissful his life must be as king.
Irritated, Dionysius invited Damocles to trade places. Damocles accepted and took a seat on the king’s golden couch. Damocles was just getting used to being fed succulent meats by servants when he noticed a razor-sharp sword hanging over his head. The sword was attached to the ceiling by a single horsehair.
Fast forward to 1961. In a speech to the United Nations, then-President John F. Kennedy said, “Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness.”
For Kennedy, the sword of Damocles was technology itself, nuclear bombs. The idea that technology can solve all of our problems is like the golden couch upon which Damocles sat. It is comfortable. It feels safe. But it’s not.
Take heed, young Mr. Resnick. The nuclear bombs weren’t yet equipped with AI.
Transhumanism has been defined as “the science of improving the human population through technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.” Jeffery Epstein, alleged sex-trafficker par excellence, was a big believer in transhumanism, according to The New York Times. Epstein wasn’t planning on using technology to save the world from itself. He was planning on having the world for himself. And his appetite, apparently, was insatiable.
AI, whether it is used to enforce the law or enhance human intelligence, will not impact human morality. Humans haven’t progressed much on that account, and we’ve produced a lot of technology since inventing the wheel.
Though technology could help hard-pressed law enforcement protect the southern border from illegal immigration, it could also kill people without the human touch. In other words, a drone powered by AI might not need a human to pull the trigger.
Virtue, the old kind of Western civilization, not technology, will be the key to saving humanity from itself.
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