Earlier this month, the military and intelligence-tied data monger Palantir — alongside big tech giants Google and Microsoft — sponsored DC's inaugural "AI Expo for National Competitiveness."

Which, judging by The Guardian's summary of the event, sounds like it was an Orwellian nightmare fever dream to end all other military-industrial conferences.

The relationship between Silicon Valley and the US military has experienced a bit of a rekindling in recent years — a renaissance in large part pushed forward in by the collision of advancements in AI, robotics, various autonomous weapons and vehicles, and surveillance. If anything, Palantir's recent event was a celebration of this renewed romance between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon.

The vibe for the expo, according to the Guardian, was quickly set by a panel of speakers that included billionaire former Google CEO and current drone manufacturing hopeful Eric Schmidt, billionaire Palantir cofounder Alex Karp, CIA deputy director David Cohen, and Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

Much of the panel's conversation reportedly centered on the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine. And Karp — whose company inked its most recent contract with the US Army in March, this one worth a cool $178 million — used the platform to spew his strikingly candid views on the conflict, US war efforts, and, uh, paganism.

Speaking about campus protests, for instance, Karp blamed student backlash against Israel's response in Gaza on "pagan religion infecting our universities" and referred to demonstrations as an "infection inside of our society," according to the Guardian. He chillingly added that a US failure to quell public dissent against a conflict could be chalked up to an ideological failure, declaring that "if we lose the intellectual debate, you will not be able to deploy any armies in the west ever."

"The peace activists are war activists," Karp — who, again, is a military contractor — continued, according to the Guardian. "We are the peace activists."

Sound familiar? We weren't kidding about the Orwellian undertones.

From there, the event apparently only got bleaker.

A Palantir booth titled Civilian Harm Mitigation, for example, demoed a map tool dubbed "Gaia." The map, Palantir engineers helming the exhibit told the Guardian, is designed to let users "nominate targets of interest" for the "target nomination process" — euphemisms for deciding who gets bombed and where. The map will also reportedly summarize its analyses by way of a large language model (LLM). You know, in case the person deciding who gets to live or die doesn't feel like reading.

There was technically an ethics panel, but according to the Guardian, it was very hard to find.

It's a deeply dystopian sign of the times. Our world is rapidly changing, including the way we wage war — and as the likes of Palantir and others become ever more embedded into the national defense of tomorrow, we'd do well to pay attention to how, exactly, Silicon Valley operatives think and feel about war today.

More on military tech: China Shows off Robot Dogs Armed with Machine Guns

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