Flying killer robots over Pakistan

Double click to enlarge.

A war fought with remotely-controlled flying killer robots is nonetheless a war.  This kind of war creates a dangerous illusion of impunity.  Somebody in a trailer park in Nevada operates flying drones in Afghanistan or Pakistan that kill people in Afghanistan or Pakistan, including, inevitably, innocent civilians.  That person, unlike a warrior on a battlefield, may expect to never suffer any personal consequences.  But many of the would-be terrorist attacks have been in retaliation for killings by robot drones.  Sooner of later one such attack will succeed.

Remember that candidate Barack Obama stated during the 2008 presidential deabtes that he would use flying drones to attack Taliban and al Qaeda locations in Pakistan, to which candidate John McCain said attacks on the territory of a sovereign ally were a bad idea.

Obama’s campaign adviser on this issue was P.W. Singer, whose groundbreaking 2009 book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st century, made him a prophet of robot warfare, which he said is only in its infancy.  We should not be surprised that President Obama makes such extensive use of robot drones in Pakistan, Yemen and Libya.

Robot technology offers many advantages, such as for surveillance and transportation, but it is dangerous if we think we can substitute machines for warriors. We cause our enemies to think we are not only cruel but cowardly; they not only hate but despise us.

Click on Robots at War for an audio link to an informative interview with P.W.  Singer on National Public Radio (wait a moment for it to load).

Click on Waziristan drone strategy comes with much baggage for an article  from Toronto’s National Post last October accompanying the original graphic.

Click on Pakistan: Calls for revenge after US drones kill 40 and Massive tribesmen march in Pakistan, demanding halt to U.S. drone attacks for BBC reports on reaction to robot drone killings of civilians.

Click on Afghanistan Predator drones: Despite high-tech tools, a fatal error for a report in the Los Angeles Times on the killing of an innocent Afghan family.  The casual attitude of the drone operators toward the possibility of killing children is chilling.  The expression for killing in situations like this is to “engage,” as if they were engaged in combat with an enemy who could fight back.   [Added 4/10/11]

Click on Simultaneity and Indifference for Aaron Bady’s thoughts on the implications of drone warfare (and a hat tip to him for the graphic).

Click on Wired for War for P.W. Singer’s web site.

Click on Drones Don’t Declutter, and Neither Do Expulsions for Gary Farber’s thoughts on Obsidian Wings. [4/12/11]

Click on Deaths in US drone attack in Pakistan for a report by Al Jareeza English of the accidental killing of Pakistani civilians.  [4/22/11]

Click on US Drone Raid Death Toll Rises to 25 for a report by the BBC on the same incident. [4/22/11]

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