Should we focus on autonomous weapons or the human agencies directing them?

25 November 2018 — Drone Warfare

A member of Scientists for Global Responsibility has drawn attention to a report by Peter Burt: Off the Leash: The Development of Autonomous Military Drones in the UK.

In a Guardian article, Jamie Doward points out that though the government insists it “does not possess fully autonomous weapons and has no intention of developing them”, since 2015, the UK has declined to support proposals put forward at the UN to ban them.

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Off the Leash: How the UK is developing the technology to build armed autonomous drones By Peter Burt

10 November 2018 — Drone Wars

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A new report published today by Drone Wars UK reveals that, despite a UK government statement that it “does not possess fully autonomous weapons and has no intention of developing them”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is actively funding research into technology supporting the development of armed autonomous drones.

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Google abandons three projects which could ’cause harm’

30 October 2018 — Drone Warfare

DRONE WARFARE: now including all airstrikes

In June, Mark Bridge reported that Google software engineers refused to work on a security feature to isolate and protect Pentagon data, because of moral concerns about the company helping the US to wage war. A dozen employees resigned in May according to Engadget and 4000 staff signed a petition against the project which was halted.

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Why we persist in opposing the growing use of armed drones By Chris Cole

29 October 2018 — Drone Wars 

Campaigners protest outside RAF Waddington, October 2018

Over the past two weeks, campaigners have been in New York taking part in meetings at the UN urging diplomats to control the proliferation and use of armed drones.  Drone Wars UK was one of the more than 50 organisations signing a joint statement released to coincide with the meetings.  Here in the UK, despite freezing wet weather, campaigners also held a protest at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire calling for an end to the growing use of armed drones.

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Imran Khan: “American drone strikes in Pakistan must stop. It’s butchery, and the true horror of it is hidden from the West”

4 October 2018 — Drone Warfare

Since 2004, the US government has attacked thousands of targets in tribal areas along the Afghan border in Northwest Pakistan. It used unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the US Air Force under the operational control of the CIA’s Special Activities Division. Attacks increased substantially under Bush’s successor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.

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Book Review: Death Machines: The Ethics of Violent Technologies by Elke Schwarz By Joanna Frew

3 October 2018 — Drone Wars

The ethical concerns raised by Elke Schwarz in her new book, Death Machines: The Ethics of Violent Technologies, help situate the use of armed drones in a deeper discussion of our modern political landscape and point to the issues that must be addressed through substantial ethical reasoning. For those not familiar with political theory and ethics, this book is at times quite dense. Nonetheless, it is essential reading for those working with or on the issue of drones, autonomy and AI to engage with the ever-increasing use of violent technologies, regarding both the physical death they inflict and the ethical death in the wake of their use.

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Book review: ‘Army of None: Autonomous weapons and the future of war’ by Paul Scharrey By Peter Burt

24 July 2018 — Drone Wars

Paul Scharre’s new book on autonomous weapons begins with an account of an incident he experienced while on patrol as a US Army Ranger in Afghanistan in 2004.  A young girl of five or six years old herding a couple of goats approached Scharre’s team while they were taking cover in the mountains.  As she looped around them, frequently glancing towards them, they realised she had a radio and was reporting their position, acting as a spotter for Taliban fighters.

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Harry Patch: ‘organised murder’ – civilian slaughter by our special friend, with our help

2 July 2018 — Drone Warfare

June 1st

The Pentagon has told Congress it estimates that nearly 500 civilians were killed as a result of US military actions in the first year of the Trump administration. According to CNN: “(The Department of Defense) assesses that there are credible reports of approximately 499 civilians killed and approximately 169 civilians injured during 2017” as a result of military operations in Iraq and Syria targeting ISIS, operations in Afghanistan targeting the Taliban and ISIS, and operations in Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS.

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Running amok? Donald Trump facilitates civilian drone deaths & continues attacks in seven countries ‘and elsewhere’

7 June 2018 — Drone Warfare

The NGO CAGE, which campaigns against discriminatory state policies and advocates observance of due process and the rule of law, reminds readers that in October 2017, US President Donald Trump replaced the Obama rules pertaining to drone strikes with his own ‘rules’ called the “Principles, Standards, and Procedures,” or PSPs.

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MoD accidentally reveals British drones firing thermobaric missiles in Syria By Chris Cole

2 May 2018 — Drone Wars

The Ministry of Defence has revealed for the first time – seemingly accidentally – that British drones are firing thermobaric weapons in Syria.  The disclosure comes in an Freedom of Information (FoI) response to Drone Wars detailing the use of Reaper drones over the previous three months.

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UK drone strike kills civilian in Syria admits MoD By Chris ColeUK drone strike kills civilian in Syria admits MoD By Chris Cole

2 May 2018 — Drone Wars

For the first time, the Ministry of Defence has admitted a civilian death in its air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  The strike, from an RAF Reaper drone, occurred on 26 March according to a written statement by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.  The strike itself was reported by the MoD on its website on 4 April.  It stated: Continue reading