back to article Work at a startup? Think US military isn't good enough at killing? We've got the program for you

The Pentagon has upgraded to permanent status a previously temporary and experimental program that bankrolls technology startups. Known as the Defense Innovation Unit, the program allows tech upstarts to obtain contracts with the US government to develop military-focused software and hardware in areas including AI, IT …

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    In campus AI groups didn't these use to be called "Baby killer" contracts?

    Not exactly a new phenomenon.

    Let's see if any of them work out any better.

    Of course it all depends on how scarce the real scarce resource is.

    People who can make sense of a 1000+ page USG government procurement contract.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In campus AI groups didn't these use to be called "Baby killer" contracts?

      Apparently, their did call them "baby killer" contracts. I'm not sure if they were being ironic or not, given that the contracts are explicitly to develop technology to either help identify the right window to put a superbly accurate (and therefore small) laser guided bomb into precisely the right place, or make the weapon even more accurate to prevent killing babies because the bomb went astray.

      Not having accurate (and preferably somewhat affordable) guided weapons leads to taking the opposite approach such as used by Russia in Syria, which is simply to accept that your weapons are going to be inaccurate, and go for cheap, big explosions and then use lots of them.

      In terms of effect, this means that instead of a laser guided bomb going in the right window killing that person and blowing out a few windows elseware you get the brute force approach. You know the target is within a city block or so and then cluster bomb the general area until nobody is left alive in it, leading to large chunks of countries involved looking like this.

      One of these approaches is intended to limit the number of people killed to those targeted, the other doesn't care if everybody within 500 yards is blown to bits. Apparently, protesting against the development (or sale) of the former is good. I think that this form of moral absolutism is almost childish when it ignoring the result, which is that the result is that the entire city gets carpet bombed instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In campus AI groups didn't these use to be called "Baby killer" contracts?

        In rhetoric you have logos and pathos. Engineers like logos but the world is mostly run on pathos. That is why high tech precision weapons are bad by default and old tech killing loads of foreigners we do not have to watch is OK. And that is why you got a downvote. QED. And the downvotes will continue.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In campus AI groups didn't these use to be called "Baby killer" contracts?

        Or, of course, the USA could stop bombing anywhere where it has absolutely no legal or moral right to do so, which is pretty much anywhere except within its own borders in the event of an invasion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In campus AI groups didn't these use to be called "Baby killer" contracts?

      >People who can make sense of a 1000+ page USG government procurement contract.

      That 1000+ page approach has given DoD a collection of albatrosses called Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and more. Inevitably these projects run over budget, and over time, but never over perform. DoD is tired of this and this project is about getting the small companies in and deliver good results for sub billion dollar costs.

      There have been projects in the past but the big players succeeded in shooting down the projects. now DoD is making a new try. They are not certain in succeeding and the big players will once again do all they can to stop this, possibly also by buying up the startups.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    You can never have enough killtech as your empire crumbles into blue dust.

    Guess the CIA has its own program and Facebook and Twitter did successful pitches.

  3. nice spam database '); drop table users; --

    "Our stick is bigger"-style propaganda

    Every country has something similar to this program

  4. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    Coat

    ... allows tech upstarts to obtain contracts with the US government to develop military-focused software and hardware in areas including AI, IT management, and space.

    And space? Sounds a little too open ended to me or are they actually looking for code bloat?

    The one with Windows ME, Vista, etc. in every pocket.

  5. scrubber
    Big Brother

    Likely to be rejected...

    I have a proposal for a project that will anonymize [make the pitch US-friendly] all the data the US is slurping up and only reveal the data of people named in legitimate warrants.

  6. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Trollface

    I have a proposal for the Space Force

    It's a death ray that only works on aliens. I need a few $100million to develop and some live aliens for testing...

  7. Alister Silver badge

    ...and AI to detect hardware failures

    “I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.”

    What could possibly go wrong?

  8. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I wonder how many "dowsing rod" devices will be in development within two years?

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