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The Drone Papers

The Drone Papers

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Pentagon cancels divisive Distinguished Warfare Medal for cyber ops, drone strikes The special medal for the Pentagon’s drone operators and cyberwarriors didn’t last long. Two months after the military rolled out the Distinguished Warfare Medal for troops who don’t set foot on the battlefield, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has concluded it was a bad idea. Some veterans and some lawmakers spoke out against the award, arguing that it was unfair to make the medal a higher honor than some issued for valor on the battlefield.

Are Robot Warriors Finally Coming to the Battlefield? Advertisement - Continue Reading Below Despite the success of armed flying drones, their counterparts on the ground have never made it over the starting line. The Pentagon's recent history is littered with failed efforts for armed robots. But as new technology, both in software and hardware, enables a new generation of machines, are we about to enter the age of the robot warrior at last? Failure to Launch Robots have already transformed bomb disposal from a lethal game of Russian roulette into a technical challenge executed from a safe distance. » DARPA Tests Drones That Refuel While Airborne Alex Jones Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.New American Oct 12, 2012 Defense contractor Northrop Grumman, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center reported on October 8 that they are moving closer to the day when drones can stay airborne indefinitely, refueled by other unmanned aerial vehicles without human assistance. The test flights conducted between January 11 and May 30 involved the use of two Global Hawk drones — “one configured as a tanker and the other as a receiver.” The experiments were conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, California and reportedly resulted in the achieving of many milestones:

We should not dismiss the dangers of 'killer robots' so quickly In an open letter I helped publish on July 28 – which has now been signed by more than 2,700 artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers from around the world – we stated that “starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea, and should be prevented by a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control”. A few days later, philosopher Jai Galliott challenged the notion of a ban, recommending instead that we welcome offensive autonomous weapons – often called “killer robots” – rather than ban them. I was pleased to read Jai’s recommendation, even if he calls the open letter I helped instigate “misguided” and “reckless”, and even if I disagree with him profoundly.

Insiders: Drone Strikes Right Approach in Current Phase of War on Terror - Sara Sorcher Another Insider said that drone strikes should be reserved for very high-value targets, cautioning that the United States has become too casual in its reliance on this controversial approach. “As with most technologies that look low-cost and uniquely to our advantage in the short term, mission creep has set in,” the Insider said. “The White House needs a critical mind to rein in the use of this controversial tool." Drone strikes are part of the right approach, but they need to fit within a well-orchestrated, whole strategy that includes public diplomacy, foreign aid, and intelligence, according to one Insider. “Right now, we have the kinetic piece about right.

The Inevitabilities of Killer Robots Illustration: Shaye Anderson In October 2012, nine civil society organizations met in New York and agreed to work together to create the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Since its launch six months later in London the campaign has seen increased public awareness, strong media coverage, and the remarkably fast—in diplomatic terms—commencement of diplomatic talks to discuss questions raised by these weapons. These nascent efforts provide a counterbalance to the obvious push for the development, production, and ultimate use of fully-autonomous weapons systems that continues unabated. As thousands of noted artificial intelligence and robotics experts recently stated in an open letter in opposition to killer robots, weapons systems capable of targeting and killing human beings on their own will be on the battlefield in a matter of years not decades.

Drone (lost in Iran) belonged to CIA, officials say The mission of the downed drone remains unclear. Iran, a longtime adversary of the United States, is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be pursuing the development of a nuclear weapon and is also accused of providing support to anti-coalition elements in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The RQ-170 has been used by the CIA for highly sensitive missions into other nations’ airspace, including months of surveillance of the compound in Pakistan in which Osama bin Laden was hiding before he was killed in a May raid by Special Operations forces.

We Can Now Build Autonomous Killing Machines. And That's a Very, Very Bad Idea Clearpath Robotics was founded six years ago by three college buddies with a passion for building stuff. Its 80 employees specialize in all-terrain test rigs like the Husky, a stout four-wheeled robot vehicle used by researchers within the Department of Defense. They make drones too, and have even built a robotic boat called the Kingfisher. America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases They increasingly dot the planet. There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth at an air base in the United Arab Emirates that almost no one talks about. And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide. Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous -- until now.

Drones, the Mullah, and legal uncertainty: the law governing State defensive action The 21 May 2016 drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour riding in a taxi in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, raises questions about the law governing State defensive action. Fourteen years after the first US counterterrorist drone strike in Yemen, legal consensus remains elusive. Possible analytical frameworks can be termed the restricted “Law Enforcement” theory, the permissive “Conduct of Hostilities” approach, and the “Self-Defense” option. The “Law Enforcement” theory applies traditional highly restrictive interpretations of State self-defense. While accepting drone use within existing “combat zones”, external action is limited to human rights law based policing and is largely reliant on territorial State consent.