Drone Warfare, Heroism, and Masculinity: Examining the Pilots’ Perspectives

‘I wanted to be a hero, but I don’t feel like a hero.’ These were the words of Brandon Bryant, a former staff sergeant in the US Air Force who worked as a sensory operator and imagery analyst for Predator drones between 2005 to 2011. It is a sentence filled with the pathos of war, […]

MPs demand greater transparency in UK use of drones

In a report released on 25 March by the Defence Select Committee, MPs call upon the British government to increase transparency in their use of armed drones, particularly in regard to “safeguards and limitations the UK Government has in place for the sharing of intelligence”. The Royal Air Force currently operates 10 armed Reaper drones […]

New UN report calls for independent inquiries into drone strikes

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism has called on states to launch independent investigations into drone attacks that have lead to civilian casualties. In his latest report for the UN Human Rights Council, Ben Emmerson concludes that whenever any reliable sources indicate that there “have been, or appear to have been, civilian casualties […]

Killer robots: dystopian fiction or imminent threat?

The arms industry has come a long way since World War I, when engineers first started to consider “flying bombs” – pilotless, radio-controlled aircraft packed with explosives. Those early experiments, like the Kettering Bug, an “unmanned aerial torpedo”, or the V-1, a predecessor of the cruise missile, were ahead of their time and mostly saw limited use. Today, […]

European Parliament condemns extrajudicial drone strikes in landslide vote

In a landslide vote, the European Parliament today passed a resolution opposing the practice of extrajudicial killings. It demands that states refrain from perpetrating unlawful targeted killings or facilitating such actions by other states. By a margin of 534 to 49, Members of the European Parliament acknowledged civil society’s grave concerns over the use of […]

Noel Sharkey discusses killer robots on BBC Radio 4’s the Today Programme, ahead of UN decision

Member States to the Convention of Conventional Weapons will decide tomorrow whether to consider autonomous weapons systems, or killer robots, under the current treaty. Ahead of what could be a landmark decision towards a moratorium against the development of these weapons, Professor Noel Sharkey, chair of ICRAC and founding member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, discusses […]

Autonomous weapons: everyone’s a target

“Once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s very, very hard to put it back in again.” In the following short documentary, robotics expert Noel Sharkey and members of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) explain why it is so important to ban autonomous weapons before they become broadly deployed. http://vimeo.com/55774055

Toy Soldiers to Killer Robots: Noel Sharkey at TEDxSheffield 2013

Watch Professor Noel Sharkey, spokesperson of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, talk about the history of unmanned weaponry and the ever-growing threat of killer robots at TEDxSheffield earlier this year. Who is Noel Sharkey? Noel Sharkey is Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Professor of Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield. He is co-founder […]

Former drone operator: “I lost that respect for life”

“I’d become heartless… I felt like a sociopath… I wanted to kill these people.” Guilt-ridden confessions one would expect from a serial killer, trying to ease a haunted conscience. But these are the words of an employee of the US government, sitting comfortably in an interview with NBC’s Richard Engel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=792cd1u_XQw In a rare first-person account, former […]