Genocide capitalism: The Israeli State and the automation of mass murder

By Isidora Durán Stewart

‘Genocide Capitalism’ is how writer Naomi Klein has aptly referred to chilling reports of the Israeli State’s vile ambition to export AI-powered military technology to new markets. 

By 2022, the Israeli State was already the tenth largest weapons exporter in the world, selling $12 billion worth of arms. Today, AI start-ups in Israel that produce murderous programmes made specifically for the genocide of Palestinians are working closely with the IDF to maximise profits from the increasing militarisation globally. Axon Vision CEO Roy Riftin even gloated about his company’s “battle tested” AI system, sickeningly referring to its role in the murder of tens of thousands of Palestinians as “feedback” for the development and trade of lethal autonomous weapons. 

The Palestine laboratory 

A range of AI technologies are now being brutally tested out on Palestinians, but the development of a secret AI-powered database called ‘Lavender’ is deemed central to the Israeli State’s devastating colonial project. 

A new investigation has revealed that Lavender has played a key role in the unprecedented genocidal bombing of Palestinians in Gaza, generating 37,000 people as potential targets at its height. The IDF gave sweeping approval for soldiers to adopt Lavender’s kill lists, with no requirement to check why it made certain choices or to examine the data on which they were based. IDF soldiers would operate as a “rubber stamp” for the machine’s decisions, devoting just 20 seconds to each target before authorising a bombing. This was despite knowing that the system makes errors in 10% of cases. 

Authorising murder 

For every junior Hamas operative marked by Lavender, IDF officials authorised the killing of up to 15-20 civilians, and for every senior Hamas commander marked, they authorised the killing of more than 100 civilians. The IDF has also used unguided missiles, which have destroyed entire buildings on top of their occupants, causing significant casualties, with one soldier saying: “You don’t want to waste expensive bombs on unimportant people.”

Other automated systems, including one chillingly called ‘Where’s Daddy?’, was used to track targeted individuals and carry out bombings only after they had entered their family home. 

The proliferation of AI and its now indispensability to many sectors, most appallingly in the Israeli’s State’s war industrial complex, is completely in line with the cold logic of capitalism. Automation has the potential to improve conditions for ordinary people but under this system it is a profiteering tool, used by the capitalist class to reduce the cost of labour in supermarkets, tech companies and now, barbarically, in genocide.

End this cruel system 

The revolutionary socialist and anti-imperialist Rosa Luxemburg understood that capitalism will stop at absolutely nothing to preserve itself, be it “by occupation, by theft, by extortion, by extermination, by taxation, by the supply of cheap consumer goods, by the appropriation of natural resources and everywhere by the use and the threat of military force.” 

The working class and oppressed of the world must stop at nothing to continue and strengthen our solidarity with Palestinians. We need to step up the marches, workers sanctions, strikes, targeted boycotts and crucially, organise ourselves into a united socialist force capable of taking on this predatory system in all of its cruelty. 

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