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DARPA Seeks App Developers For War App Store 174

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-out-the-free-section dept.
MrSeb writes "DARPA has a problem on its hands: Satellites, unmanned drones (UAVs), and myriad other worldwide sensors are now so ubiquitous and omnipotent that the Department of Defense (DOD) doesn't actually know how to make the best use of them. In other words, the hardware is there, but the software isn't. To tackle this particularly tricky issue, DARPA is looking for smartphone app developers to help build 'sophisticated, adaptive applications.' Yes, DARPA wants to give smartphone developers access to the DOD's fleet of Hellfire missile-equipped UAVs. Instead of using a single, remote pilot to fly just one UAV, DARPA imagines 'an app [...] that allows a swarm of small deployed UAVs to be controlled as a single unit (a hive [mind] so to speak).' DARPA also wants app developers to help out with easy-to-use app interfaces, novel uses of smartphone-like sensors (accelerometers, cameras, gyros) — and ultimately, it wants to make a War Market where a soldier can simply log in with his DOD-issued smartphone or tablet and download Angry UAVs, Nuke Ninja, and other battlefield apps."
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DARPA Seeks App Developers For War App Store

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  • by LucidBeast (601749) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:09PM (#38298118)
    but, somehow I wouldn't feel good when my code worked in this case
    • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:11PM (#38298146)
      Imagine how good you'll feel when your code doesn't work and launches a cruise missile at Houston.
    • by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:43PM (#38298412) Homepage

      Agreed. While the prospect of various enemies overrunning my country is not lost on me, my analytical skills are pointing to a bigger threat within my country than without: namely that the military / security people have gone AWOL, and constitute a bigger threat to the populace than their named greatest enemies.

      I don't like the police getting TANKS for internal use, Special Weapons and Tactics for unpaid parking tickets, and Intelligence Agencies running operations inside the country. Writing programs for these people sounds like handing people the very gun they will shoot me with. I've seen enough idealism and irony with the Thin Thread program, where an aloof mathematician couldn't conceive of the possibility of his program being used against the general populace for some below-board practices.

      We'll talk about getting your soldiers some nice apps when I stop feeling ashamed about discussing my country with citizens from its allies.

      *shakes head*

      Something like that...

      • Writing programs for these people sounds like handing people the very gun they will shoot me with.

        Wait until they realize they had the enemy design their weapons. "That's strange, I can't seem to target anyone wearing a blue shirt with green pants. Stranger yet, this entire mob of angry geeks appear to be wearing just that."

      • when I stop feeling ashamed about discussing my country with citizens from its allies.

        Man, that is exactly how I feel lately...

        • by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:53PM (#38298890) Homepage

          Anyone else in favor of a constitutional amendment for a "no confidence vote," where the public can hold a referendum at will to dissolve our currently elected officials of their offices, ban them for life from ever holding another position (municipal, state, federal, etc.), and hold general elections for their replacements?

           

          • Might help, but can you really have confidence in the voters? Look at the people we have in office: hard to believe anyone other than themselves and their moms voted for them, but millions of people chose them multiple times! A lot of votes end up being close to 50/50 which doesn't give one confidence that any intelligence is involved in the voting process at all.

            Really I wish we had an accurate lie detector so that we could spot those giggling to themselves when taking the oath of office.
            • I don't necessarily have any confidence in the voters, but I wouldn't want to deny them a chance to prove that they merit more of my confidence. ;-p

              I personally like the idea of the general public being able to look at their government, and say to themselves, "Enough of these people, without prejudice to position or party, leave me without a sense of hope or pride in my country, that I would prefer the option of a No Confidence vote of simultaneously removing every one of them from office and banning them f

          • This already exists. These votes are scheduled every few years to keep the scheduling simple.

            Stop acting like a politician and calling for a new law/amendment when we just have to use the tools we have. Want them out? Vote them out and don't reelect them.

        • What allies?
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      but, somehow I wouldn't feel good when my code worked in this case

      Would you feel better if your code wouldn't work (e.g. have some bugs or something) but would still be used?

    • Would you feel better if the government admitted they were attacking those foreign pigs with avians?

  • by ExploHD (888637) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:09PM (#38298124)
    The first app in the War Store will probably be Angry Birds
    Training first!
    • Mafia Wars. It must be Mafia Wars.

      Or some sort of porn app, that automatically downloads new material in the background according to your preferences.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:14PM (#38298178) Homepage

    Bomb the lead car lite... A great new ad supported Drone app that will automatically bomb the lead car in any convoy you point it at. Unobtrusive ad's and a limit of 2 convoy bombing per day. Upgrade to the full pro app today for only $29.99!

  • by musth (901919) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:16PM (#38298204)

    Go for it, amoral developers of the world, willing to work for anyone that delivers your required amount of $$$.

    • by Frangible (881728) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:53PM (#38298484)
      As you use DARPA's "amoral" creations like GPS, the internet, and Siri. Remember, every time you use satellite navigation, you support the military-industrial complex! Of course, you can also use GLONASS now simultaneously with the same receiver (on newer models), so you can support the American and Russian military-industrial complexes at the same time. Where does THAT bumper sticker go on your Prius?
      • by jovius (974690)

        The threat paradigm is not the necessary motivation to develop new technology. I'd gladly develop tech that reaches and helps people of the world to better communicate and understand each other for instance. It's just the other way to say it and it wouldn't support paranoid closed source thinking. Besides you could probably invent ten internets with the billions that DOD has just lost in the desert adventures.

        I don't know what the terms of the war app store could be, but if people from around the world can

      • by cusco (717999)
        Screw GPS, I **LIKE** reading maps.
        • by Pope (17780)

          Having both and knowing when to use and/or trust each is even more valuable.

    • That's another sticking point. They won't pay nearly enough to attract the kinds of talent they might want, and the kinds of talent they want do not, from a longevity standpoint, want to work for them.

  • by youn (1516637) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:28PM (#38298284) Homepage

    what coul possibly go wrong? :)

  • What do I need to run the simulator too? Lol... DARPA, they rock because they do crazy sh** all the time and sometimes it works out great.

  • by zill (1690130) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:30PM (#38298296)
    I know this is just legal boilerplate, but it makes my laugh every time a military–industrial complex related story comes up:

    SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR XCODE
    8. Export Control... You also agree that you will not use the Developer Software for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

    • What about weapons that aren't on that list? ;-)

      • by zill (1690130)

        including, without limitation,

        iANAL, but I think "including, without limitation" means "specifically the following list of things, but also generally applies to everything not specifically listed.".

    • Nice, but if you use it to destroy the US, who's going to sue you?

    • by mirix (1649853)

      Pretty standard, I've seen similar disclaimers on hardware (microcontrollers, IIRC). The govnt is naturally exempt, but they need to pay a lot more, and take on the liability.

      (trying to google to figure out which manufacturer I had seen it on.. I was thinking microchip. During the search, I've discovered that apparently itunes cannot be used on nuclear weapons. Ain't that a shame.)

  • Just hook all that hardware up to the C&C generals [wikipedia.org] engine.

    This also offers an easy downgrade path [mobygames.com] in case geopolitics change again.

  • ... fart apps in 3...2...1...
    ^_^

  • by josteos (455905) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:41PM (#38298386)
    Join MILville today and get 25 free Drone Credits!
  • One star (Score:3, Funny)

    by XahXhaX (730306) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:43PM (#38298416)

    Did not kill the terrorists. Didn't win the war. Crashed twice on startup.
    Fix the crashes and maybe I'll give it five stars.

  • New App (Score:3, Informative)

    by cyachallenge (2521604) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:48PM (#38298458)
    "Let's play Global Thermonuclear War"
    • I have a better, more challenging game: "Get your honest politician elected."

      You must somehow keep your chosen champion from making any false promises or accepting lobbyist donations while running a clean campaign. Comes with three (gradually increasing) levels of difficulty: Municipal (easiest), State, and Federal (hardest).

      • I have a better, more challenging game: "Get your honest politician elected."

        The reason unethical politicians keep getting elected is because voters would rather have someone unethical who does what they want than someone ethical who does what they don't want.

  • The years spent playing Starcraft will pay off!!! OTOH, the Koreans will take over the world.
  • Programmer ethics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:10PM (#38298610) Homepage Journal

    If you're worried about the ethics of doing this, here are some suggestions to help you cope:

    • My family comes first
    • I'm not responsible for how things are used
    • I'm not the only one on this project
    • If I don't do it, someone else will
    • One person won't have an effect
    • Only the good guys will use them
    • They'll never be used on innocent civilians
    • They'll never be used on Americans
    • This will protect my country and make it strong
    • I trust my government

    Pick one or more that helps ease your mind.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by keepper (24317)

      Oh nice.. another ( i'm hollier than though morality ) comment

      Brought to you by(tm).... the internet... a DARPA/(Military industrial complex) sponsored project....
      Made possible by (tm).. Xray litography... another child of a military sponsored project...

      I can keep going. :)

      go with your BS somewhere else..

      • by arielCo (995647)
        Speaking of drones ... WHOOOSH
        Better take that sarcasmometer for a checkup!
      • Brought to you by(tm).... the internet... a DARPA/(Military industrial complex) sponsored project....
        Made possible by (tm).. Xray litography... another child of a military sponsored project...

        That's a false equivalency. You might as well argue that creating Tang was morally equivalent to weaponizing anthrax.

      • by fredrated (639554)

        You are an ass.

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      You speak of "rationalization". I demand an explanation of the mechanism you are using to attach Guilt to the developers of these applications, that we may assess the merits of your reasoning. While you're at it, please consider:

      "If I don't do it, someone else will".

      This is actually true.

      "They'll never be used on innocent civilians / They'll never be used on Americans".

      If things get to the point that these are, in fact, used on innocent civilian Americans, how substantial of a difference will these inno

      • Ethics comes in levels, or layers if you like. The different layers direct our actions, so that to have integrity in one layer means that you have to be consistent in your actions according to the rules of that layer.

        At the lowest layer, everyone's actions are assumed to benefit themselves. We take the action that gives us the immediate benefit. Steal or kill depending on your needs, simply because it benefits you. Contract killers and pickpockets live at this level.

        The next layer up is honor; loosely, it m

        • The next layer is good versus evil; loosely, it means "I don't cause suffering in others". I cannot take actions which hurt others, and if my actions inadvertently hurt others I have to stop

          But, this layer then would also require you to not cause suffering through INACTION.

          That is the reason I would strongly consider taking a job developing mobile applications for the military. Because on the whole the world has less suffering form the existence of a strong U.S. military than it would without. And that's

          • Inaction is dealt with in a higher layer, and action taken against someone is in a layer even higher than that.

            As mentioned, without the entire framework one can easily construct trivial arguments that make the ethical system seem inconsistent, or which appear to encourage unethical behaviour.

            Yes, that layer compels one to reduce suffering by taking action. If you stop at this layer, you can justify forcing people into rehab centers against their will - for just about any reason. Drug use, smoking, obesity,

  • There was an Iron Man storyline (Stark Resilient) not too long ago that had a game app being released that pretended that real missions were actually part of the game, with the players controlling UAVs...

  • by Memroid (898199) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:52PM (#38298884)
  • "Angry UAVs, Nuke Ninja, and other battlefield apps"

    I'm still stuck with the naPalm Pilot you insensitive clods.

    http://www.lorax.org/~arosin/napalm.pdf [lorax.org]

  • bloody, messy, cost countless lives (for both sides) and be completely abhorrent. It's supposed to be that way because that's the only way to not have war. If we make it nice, clean, neat, and remote then the victor can tell any tale they want. Slaughtered millions at the hands of robot jocks thousands of miles away? No, they surrendered peacefully with minimal bloodshed. Thousands of casualties taking out the enemy HQ? No, it was a precision strike that killed only the bad guys. Not even dust settle
    • Sure, but the important thing is: how much do I score for taking out a village of unarmed peasants who are so poor that dirt farming is a step up and what can I get at the DARPA online auction house for it?

  • After all, when your customer has unlimited funds, you can charge as much as you want for your app.
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @12:36AM (#38299868)

    Instead of using a single, remote pilot to fly just one UAV, DARPA imagines 'an app that allows a swarm of small deployed UAVs to be controlled as a single unit (a hive [mind] so to speak)'.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • oh great, the hellfire missiles are coming in.. and your enemy just discovered they can do: uuddlrlrba to disable your whole swarm of UAVs.

    opening up mission critical apps to game devs who are used to putting in back-doors and cheat codes without line-by-line code review when lives are on the line?!?! hmmm..

  • by J4 (449) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @07:31AM (#38301588) Homepage

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • I am reminded of Battlezone (1998 version) [wikipedia.org]. I don't know about a "swarm", but I imagine one person could manage three or four drones pretty easily if the interface was good enough, and the drones were semi-autonomous.

  • by fortapocalypse (1231686) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @10:48AM (#38303510)
    It makes sense for DARPA to do this, because it reduces the chance of a soldier using technology/software that is insecure. My first reaction was to laugh as well, but it makes a lot more since for the military to use an App Store, even more so than it does to have one in OS X and Windows.

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