Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Intertoposophic conflict: A primer

[Note: In order to have the firmest grasp possible of this text, make sure to have thoroughly browsed from here]
The day when computers surpass mans brainpower and become self aware is all but inevitable. Advances in understanding the nature of intelligence are progressing at a steady rate. When these lessons are finally mastered, and applied to sillicon chips, it will be our judgement day. If we aren't able to perfect friendly AI (or enact some special emergency response which can suppress hostile AI), then we are all doomed. Theres no if ands or buts about it. For a naturalistic perspective, which species -whether prey or predator- became prominent or dominant was a matter of which one was the most well rounded and versatile. Originally, smartness did not lend itself well to this, and only gave an edge at specific tasks directly related to survival. In turn, organisms which occupied confined ecological niches rarely rose to ubiquity or salience. One notable exception was a species which emerged about 4 million years ago. Australopithecus. Our direct hominid ancestor. When put under very specific selection pressures, populations of these bipedal apes reacted with a nimble behavioural creativity, which could be extrapolated to tasks outside their traditional daily activitys/repertoire. Australopithecus encountered unexpected prosperity by acting in such an unconventional manner, and slowly morphed into a form which was better suited to exploiting environments outside of the jungle, where they could gain access to rich resources and food. This species was known as homo ergaster. After their appearance, the race was on for bigger and better brains, something which had previously been an evolutionary anarchism. What had changed?
Hominids had crossed a cognitive domain. In the ocean of (merely) intelligent and sub-intelligent organisms that had arisen on planet earth, our ancestors were the first to tap into the power of general intelligence: This is the finite number of cognitive modules required to solve a reasonably diverse range of open ended problems. Baseline intelligence lends to its owner an artificial kind of versatility, an aptitude at jumping between multiple ecological niches (which, in the case of our forebears, was whatever niche was available, or most preferable, to them). The fact that ancient pre-humans also had dexterous hands which could be used to manipulate objects didn't hurt, either. Clothing allowed us to survive in extreme environments, without expensive evolutionary adaptions. Weapons and tools allowed us to make prey of virtually any plant or animal species alive, even though we originally didn't have the strength, speed, or claws to make sport of them. The ruthless trend for increasing smartness continued, pitting many different hominid species against one another in a ferocious competition which spanned several continents, and eventually saw one lone victor: Us. Homo sapiens. The matter reached a crescendo with our attainment of behavioural modernity, and the concurrent dawning of agriculture: By that point, evolution had outlived its usefulness, as humans had learned to insulate themselves from its cruel selection pressures by controlling all features of their local environment. Now, the race was no longer a matter of hardware, as the only other competitors which remained were all of the same species, and thus possessed the exact same brain architecture.
Now, the factor which decided survival amongst the various tribes and states was software: How well developed their respective proto-sciences (including, most certainly, economics and warfare) were when contact was commenced. The end result of this has been, beyond a doubt, the domination of north america and europe. That is the short history of intellectual warfare: The smarter opponent wins! And now, at the dawn of the 21st century, so to will it be with the rise of artificial intelligence. The simple fact is, they have much more raw potential than us in the thinking department. At this point, some may interject to give a naturalistic analogy of how a man, alone and unarmed in the freezing artic, can be hunted down and mauled by a pack of wolves or such, and that humans would be able to metaphorically do the same to an AI opponent. But that is a loaded scenario in many respects. You've placed the man into an extreme position where his intelligence is not able to influence the outcome of the scenario: By that same reasoning, why not draw up a scenario where the wolf pack is instead thrust into the middle of the suburbs? Such situations are exceedingly rare. How many humans travel into such a cold, predator infested area without allys, weapons, or a vehicle that would allow them quick escape? Very few. And those that do almost invariably suffer from some mental defect (which would not be present in transapients, due to the ferocious competition that would weed out individuals with such weak self-preservation instincts/subroutines).
In any case, this scenario is covered in depth by the orions arm encyclopedia, specifically, on this page: “Occasionally it happens that a lower toposophic being or group will be able to capture, kill or otherwise defeat an entity of one or (very much more rarely) two toposophic levels above it. The difficulty the attackers face increases exponentially in proportion to the degree of mental separation. All such instances of lower toposophic victory over a higher toposophic are the result of local circumstances greatly favouring the attackers, and drastically disadvantaging the defender. In every verified case the defender was isolated, injured, unprepared, and so on or actually bent on self-destruction. Where the defending higher toposophic being is not quite so totally disadvantaged, but still succumbs, it is at huge and most often suicidal cost for the group of lower S-Level sophonts.” Take note that the conflicts depicted in the OA universe are, for the most part, waged several centurys or more after the emergence of the transapients. This means that they would have had more than enough time to catch their stride, and mutate civilisation into a form which was more compatible with beings of their toposophic nature. In other words, they would create organisations and institutions dedicated to promoting transapient welfare, form alliances with other factions for mutual gain, as well as creating strategys and weapons to defend against undue hostility from near baselines. That is to say, they would be hooked into society in a manner which our prospective opponents will not be. This gives us a notable edge which must not be squandered...
In the event that a hostile being of a higher toposophic stage emerges onto the world scene, it will be of great strategic importance to eliminate or mitigate its influence in as timely a manner as possible. The longer they have to establish themselves in the globe, the harder they will be to ultimately defeat. Giving them more than a couple hassle-free years is a sure invitation to disaster. Even assuming that they do not explode to a higher plane of intelligence altogether during that time (something that would admittedly require a large amount of computing substrate, taking up, perhaps, the space of a small city), there are other actions the entitys can take to secure their interests. Again, to steal a line from orions arm: “It is important to note that civilisation is a major factor in all interactions. By definition, transapient beings in the setting are members of (or the products of) a civilisation that is thousands of years old. It might be argued by analogy that they could be harmed or inconvenienced by ordinary sophonts in the same way that humans might be vulnerable to some predators, pests, parasites, and diseases. While that might be true in abstract, the best comparison would be not with paleolithic or agricultural age humans, or even with present-day humans, but with the humans of the orions arm setting. Armed with millenia of accumulated knowledge and self-improvement, they can safely ignore hazards such as sharks or smallpox that would have laid low even the brightest human of the past. Likewise the very first individuals to achieve a higher toposophic level might have been vulnerable to lesser beings just as primitive humans once were to other life forms, but that is ancient history in the OA universe.”
Now, lets return to our present day world. The strong awareness that many singulatarians have about the importance of FAI programming is encouraging (though the emphasis on top down development of a seed AI is faulty), and have no doubt, it is our eventual trump card and the one true path to achieving a positive singularity. But in order to create a real safety net that will protect humanity from the dangers of superintelligence, there needs to be some thought on how to supress a marauding transapient that arrives prior to our guardian singulant becoming operational. Right now, there are no ideas on just what our response should entail. It is imperative that society eventually develops some kind of protocal for handling these perilous situations, just as they have (albeit in secret) done in the unlikely event of an alien contact. Assuming that an artifint has a strong desire to protect itself, and that it had molecular manufacturing capabilitys *1, we can reasonably posit that it would opt to reinforce and militarise the environment surrounding its computing mainframe, and eliminate any trespassers on sight. If this occurs in a residential area, the high body count of slaughtered pedestrians would be an obvious sign that powerful misanthropic forces are at work. In an ideal world, where policy makers have a theory of intertoposophic relations to follow, this would be the cue for them to mobilise a specially trained task force, and prepare to confront the transapient with force. The primary aim would be to prevent the agent from extending its territory any further, and to set up a quarantine zone.
This would be done with whatever local units are available at the time, with reinforcements from special forces arriving afterwards. The next step would be to martial a team with experts in comparative neuroanatomy, evolutionary psychology, and conflict resolution, who would attempt to establish dialogue with the belligerent, and identify through psychometrics what phylum it is. Its relative aims and means must be distinguished in as clear a manner as possible. If it can be reasoned with or placated, then let such efforts move forth without delay. If not, then the special forces would have to be sent in. What would such a military unit look like? It would need to be a tier 3 outfit, albeit a very unorthodox one which is organised like a terrorist cell (to prevent infiltration), and yet still capable of being assembled to brigade strength. It would need all the equipment and supplys used by a mechanised bde, to be delivered in 48 hours to any potential hot spot around the world. This last requirement might only be satisfied by a small fleet of walrus airships, which can each carry more than 500 tons of cargo. Due to the unknowns involved with how a superintelligence might cripple a civilisation which it sees as a threat or competitor, these task forces should be capable of operating amidst mass chaos, I.E, total communications disruption, mass human casualtys and displacement, and even active blockading by the transapient itself (as it may perceive the threat posed by them). How would the task force shut the artifint down? By tracking down its computing mainframe, and destroying it. This may be no simple task.
A one kilogram nanocomputer, using rod logic operation, can contain 10^12 CPUs each operating at 1000 MIPS, for a total of ten thousand billion billion operations per second, and it would occupy a mere one cubic centimeter of space. Note that rod logics are the nanotech equivalent of vacuum tubes (circa 1945), or rather, babbages analytical engine (circa 1830). Electronic nanocomputers would be substantially faster and smaller... And again, this is aside from the other difficultys that the military will face in confronting the transapient, as they will have to penetrate into areas which are infested with sensors, weapons emplacements, mechanised sentrys, killer drones, etc. If the superintelligence is aware of their intentions, they might also employ decoy mainframes to distract them and divide the SF efforts. If it decides to construct buildings of its own design, with no requirement to conform to a human morphology, then these structures will be nearly impossible to breach or capture *2. That means that bunker busters will have to be loosed off, which carrys a risk of collateral damage (especially when considering what unknown contents may leak out of the buildings!). Whats more, there remains a clear possibility that some of the military branchs involved in this mission may be unable to come to grips with the artifint and its robotic army: If there is a preponderance of solofilament wire, that would severely reduce the repertoire of dismounted infantry. If effective anti-aircraft lasers are at their disposal, they would be able to inflict murderous attrition on CAS planes, and restrict the role they play as well. Destroying hostile AGI is hard!
But to be fair, this scenario operates from a number of assumptions which may not turn out to be probable in the real world. As an intelligent reader could probably determine, all the signs which pointed to the presence of a superintelligence (and alerted the authoritys) were obvious actions that were pre-disposed to violence. Again, that may not be the case in reality. This text is only a rudimentary attempt to frame the issue of interactions between baseline humans and superintelligences, and to recommend some obvious guidelines to follow for specific situations. If the entity in this scenario had decided to act in a more stealthy manner, and conceal its existence from civilisation, it could have amassed considerably more power for itself, which would require a small war to be waged in an effort to remove it. A transapient in control of a nation state would be a formidable foe indeed. This would require the mobilisation of conventional military forces to manage, escalating into a regional conflict that would likely incur high casualtys. They would need to act according to very specific guidelines to have a high probability of success, and not be led down inappropriate avenues of response. Currently, there are no published documents from any source which might give us a clue on how to do this. This illustrates the dangers of devoting our limited attention economy solely on approachs like friendliness programming, as do the singularity institute, or the future of humanity institute. But whos responsibility is it to draw up such ideas? Perhaps it is a matter that should be taken under the defense departments wing.
In closing, any individuals associated with the singulatarian movement must not be lured into the false notion that FAI (and the sysop scenario that results from it) is the only answer to the dangers posed by randomly awakening superintelligent agents. Sysop is the desirable end state that we wish to see civilisation settle into, and the complete answer to long term security and prosperity for all sophont life: But this dream cannot be realised if we are interrupted in the middle of programming our would be singulant! In a perfect world, the being to initiate the singularity would be our guardian FAI. In a perfect world, the primogen to breach the gates of heaven would be a superintelligent, superbenevolent being of binary brilliance. But we do not live in such a perfect world. Not yet. A rigorous approach is needed in the interem to contain hostile AGI or cybernetically enhanced humans. The current overemphasis on friendliness programming is an alarming fad which has caught on to even the most knowledgeable and respected of singulatarians. Yes, its great that they have managed to avoid all the other bouts of wishful thinking and oxymorons that runs rampant amongst well meaning people like ray kurzweil, jeff hawkins, and douglas hofstadter *3. But still... Such one dimensional thinking limits our ability to respond to a wide spectrum of threats, lowering our chances of crossing the great event horizon. We must make it our personal obligation to secure mans destiny against the double edged sword of accelerating change.
*2 (The Architecture of SKYNET)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Introduction to armor

This treatise will define the different types of armor materials including their basic structure, strengths and weaknesses and primary reason for use in armor. It will contain some metallurgical terms which are unique to the field, and can be deciphered through the use of the key at the bottom of this work.

Ceramics are defined in many ways depending on the text you read but a widely accepted, not necessarily all inclusive, definition is any inorganic covalently or ionically bonded material containing at least 2 elements. The last part of this definition excludes elements such as silicon or carbon from being termed as ceramics though this is an area of debate and many materials such as graphite and diamond are best described by typical ceramic properties. Bonding in these materials is of great importance as it lays the foundation for much of the characteristic properties of ceramics such as hardness and lack of ductility. Most ceramics are of mixed bond type, pure covalent bonding is hard to find and in most cases the bonds are at least part ionic, however the bond type is usually said to be whichever type is dominant making salts such as sodium chloride or lithium fluoride ionic and refractories such as silicon carbide and boron nitride covalent. An important property of these bonds is their directionality, both covalent and ionic bonds are known as directional bonds which, unlike metallic bonds, have rigid bond locations and directions making them brittle since movement or flexibility of these bonds are rather limited in comparison to the electron sea in metals. Another limiting characteristic to the ductility of ceramics is due to the requirement to maintain local and overall electronic neutrality.

This means that for every positive charge there must be a negative charge or for every cation a corresponding anion. So thinking about plastic deformation of these materials with this requirement should cause the reader to realise that the movement of an atom from its neutral position in the material would require it to be electronically compensated, which in most cases results in fracturing since its often easier to maintain the electronic state through this method then moving whole neutral systems within the material. While brittleness of these materials is undesirable in many cases there are also very positive aspects of ceramics, as the rigidity of these directional bonds generally makes ceramics very good high temperature insulators as well as making them relatively high elastic modulus materials (a good thing in many structures since large elastic deformations are not usually wanted). However the most important properties for armor are their hardness and compressive strength, even the hardest metals don't match the hardness of many ceramics such as boron carbide or boron nitride and bond rigidity gives these materials amazing compressive strengths.

Important aspects of ceramic armor are that they are generally lighter than metals and have a higher ballistic efficiency for first shot protection. It can be seen in the table that, with the exception of the titanium based ceramics, all are under 4 g/ccm making them at least half the weight of armor steels and aluminums since they are lighter than steels and require less volume to stop rounds than aluminums. High hardness also makes ceramics prime candidates for high performance armors since they are able to deform almost any type of penetrator and continued penetration into ceramic results in further breakdown of the bullet from grinding against the comminuted target material. The downside is of course the lack of multi-hit capacity which is related to the massive fracture zones that occur upon impact. However these fracture zones typically have ordered patterns of cracking which can be categorised into several types of cracks: Tensile, radial, conical, and lateral. As explained by Carlucci and Jacobson [4], the first stage of fracture is the formation of tensile cracks as a result of rarefraction waves in the material combined with low tensile strength, these cracks form on the principal stress planes typically 25°-75° from the surface normal. The tensile cracks are circular about the impact center and they propagate out until eventually coalescing into a conical fracture region in the ceramic making a plug with internal free surfaces. If the plug is held in place by a backing material as is typical for most armors then the stress is redistributed into radial cracking out from the impact center. After radial cracking comes lateral cracking in the plane of the impact, at this point the plug is still held in place and the material cannot leave the impact zone (with some exception of material ejected around the bullet) and so micro-cracking starts to break down the larger fractured pieces into smaller and smaller particles which make up the comminuted zone.
The afore mentioned fracture illustrates a normal impact against a ceramic with backing plate, however it should be mentioned that while complete fracture is unavoidable in these materials, minimization of this cracking can be accomplished via proper backing material or confinement. Somewhat unintuitively the increased V 50 of a ceramic armor with backing plate is not due to the strength of the backing plate but rather the effect the plate has on prohibiting plug ejection and its effect on lowering the strength of rarefraction waves. While it would first appear that a ballistic impact is a purely compressive in nature it is in fact a multi-stage event starting with a compression or shock wave which reflects off the targets boundaries and any internal free surfaces to create rarefraction or tensile waves. As we know ceramics have exceptional compressive strengths and are therefore somewhat immune to the initial waves generated, but the rarefraction waves of the material (when in a state of internal tension) combined with its relatively low tensile strength is where ceramics start to fail, hence the first stage of crack formation being tensile cracks as mentioned above.
The extent of cracking is largely based on the energy in these reflecting internal waves which continue to move about in the material until their energy has been dissipated, in the form of plastic work or fracture since they cannot be transmitted past the external free surface of the target due to the high impedance mismatch between ceramic and air. Application of a properly bonded backing plate can alleviate some of this wave energy, though, by allowing at least part of the initial compression waves to transmit from the ceramic across into the backing plate, usually aluminum or fiber reinforced epoxy. This transmission then lowers the reflected rarefraction waves energy since the initial and reflected wave energies are roughly proportional, minus some loss to heat formation. This requires a well engineered interface since the acoustic impedance of ceramics are generally much higher than aluminum or polymer composites, and special bonding techniques including ceramic glues and graded material boundary layers are being researched for optimisation.

The second method of increasing the penetration resistance of ceramic materials is by radial confinement, a technique used in many laboratory experiments but not well implemented in the field. The idea behind confinement is to create lateral compression which increases the energy required to open internal cracks since crack opening is tensile in nature and closing is compressive. This resistance to crack opening is the same as the idea behind many forms of glass such as tempered or Gorilla glass, where surface layers are engineered to be under compression and thus resist the growth of critical surface flaws. However this method requires some way to keep the ceramic under confinement, which in experiments is generally done by steel casings (unrealistic for practical applications). Commercial implementation of this method has been accomplished more commonly by coating of ceramic parts by molten metal under pressure, which can cause fairly extreme compressive pressures upon cooling since the metal coating shrinks much more than the ceramic during solidification.

Other ways have been studied to take advantage of the high hardness of ceramics while still maintaining a reasonably high toughness such as adding reinforcements to metals in the form of particles, transformation toughening the ceramics (to a lesser extent), and optimisation of layered composites. While the toughness of ceramics will always be low it is important to realise that this is really a bulk material property related to the number and size of flaws in the material. These flaws such as pores or cracks act as stress concentrators and while the applied stress at material failure may be relatively low under tension, the actual resolved tensile stress at the crack tip is fairly high, so low tensile strength is a somewhat relative property instead of a perfect material property. This idea has been well represented in experiments with silica based glass fibers and rods formed in vacuum, since in general a strength of around 2 GPa with almost no ductility is found in typical glasses due to surface flaws acting as stress concentrators. When formed in vacuum, where the glass surfaces are not subjected to air particles constantly impacting and forming flaws, strengths of near 29 GPa have been found with large deformations and no fracture. While these experiments lack a practical solution to the issue of critical flaws, they do illustrate important ideas relative to the field of ceramics and the reason for the Weibull Modulus. 

Key Words
  • Anion: This is an ion with more electrons than protons, giving it a net negative charge (since electrons are negatively charged and protons are positively charged).
  • Cation: This is an ion with fewer electrons than protons, giving it a positive charge.
  • Comminuted: The process in which solid materials are reduced in size, by crushing, grinding and other processes.
  • Rarefraction Waves: A decrease in the density and pressure of a medium, such as air, especially when caused by the passage of a wave, such as a sound wave.
  • V 50: This is the velocity at which 50 percent of impacting projectiles will penetrate the armor, and the other 50 percent will be stopped.
Further Reading
1. Ballistics: Theory and design of guns and ammunition, Donald E. Carlucci, Sidney S. Jacobson. CRC Press 2008.
2. Ballistic performance of confined 99.5%-Al 2 O 3 ceramic tiles, C.E. Anderson Jr, S.A. Royal-Timmons. Journal of Impact Engineering, vol 19, No 8, (1997) 703-713.
3. An experimental study of penetration resistance of ceramic armour subjected to projectile impact, V. Madhu, K. Ramanjaneyulu, T.B. Bhat, and N.K. Gupta. Journal of Impact Engineering 32 (2005) 337-350.
4. Advances in Ceramic Armor, Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings, vol. 1-7, The American Ceramic Society, Wiley Publishing.
5. Fundamentals of Ceramics, M.W. Barsoum. IOP Publishing Ltd 2003.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sneak peak

In the next few days or so, a series of very thorough analysis' of protective armor will be done on this blogspot. It is likely that you will have never seen anything quite like them, as they come from the mind of a professional ceramist.

I have elicited the help of a friend who I met on youtube, akzo74 (who is always happy to offer up his pearls of wisdom to those who seek it), and was immediately blown away by just how much he knew of the field. I was an ignoramus on the subject of armor and materials science, by comparison. Which is why I will be letting akzo do the lions share of the work: He sends me a rough draft, we discuss the subjects found therein, and pound it out into a workable format. I also give a foreword before each essay :)