Saturday, February 05, 2022


Theatre of War: Law Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2022

I read a report "VISIMO and West Point Advancing Artificial Intelligence for Judge Advocates" [January 11, 2022] which provides a brief outline of research conducted to develop an AI enabled legal assistant for the military. Not surprisingly speed is the compelling issue. Here's a quote from the report

With the development of autonomous weapons, the speed of warfare is increasing. Stationed at combatant commands and Air Operations Centers worldwide, Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps members provide critical legal advice during combat, including use-of-force decision-making recommendations. However, Judge Advocates are not equipped to keep pace with modern combat.

As regular readers know, I have been interested in the issue of speed and war, speed and technology, interconnectivity and inter-operability, for some time. I often refer to cultural critic Paul Virilio's various statements and ideas about speed, particularly the harnessing of light speed [or near light speed]. In regards to AI legal assistants/lawyers, embedded into the Internet of Battlefield Things speed saves time. In doing so, in an interconnected & interoperable system, speed acts as a force multiplier. Whatever is speeded up becomes part of this force multiplication. 

Speed has become an enabler, a tactic and a strategy. It is a purveyor of weaponry, but could also be considered a weapon itself. Speed could also be considered a domain - I call it a dromo-domain

Theatre of War: Law 
This painting was directly inspired by the article mentioned above. Like some other recent paintings I visualise a 'cloud' of circles as a parody of The Cloud, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Battlefield Things. My 'clouds' are also landscapes of the normally invisible ie: the connections enabled by technological interconnectivity and interoperability. In each of my recent paintings, the viewer can soar beyond, below, behind and in front of techno-scapes that insidiously occupy our environment. Sometimes they look like chain mail [with all its military/war implications]. 

In Theatre of War: Law the central circle is a string of binary code 'instructing' MILITARY LAWYER. This circle is connected to an array of circles, some created using the symbol for light speed ie: c, and one circle created with the symbol for photon ie: Y. This references the fact that all frequencies in the electro magnetic spectrum are made up of photons, travelling at the speed of light. The light spectrum is the only frequency we can see with the naked eye. Maybe the red spot is the target?

The circles clearly extend beyond the painting, thus the central MILITARY LAWYER circle may not ultimately be central at all - is there, in fact, a centre point in an always-on interconnected and interoperable system where civilian and military assets and activities intersect? This poses questions about command and responsibility - as Virilio notes “acceleration of reality tends to reverse the principle of responsibility”.[1]

Detail Theatre of War: Law

I will leave you to ponder more. Because, of course, there are many other issues associated with AI, such as bias, unintended outcomes, accidents, nuance that can and will affect outcomes for legal assistant/lawyer tools for military use. 



[1] Paul Virilio, The Original Accident, trans. Julie Rose (London and Malden, MA: Polity, 2007), 90.


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