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Armed Drones a dangerous precursor to Autonomous Weapon Systems

By Freya Tulloch

Heather Linebaugh served as an imagery and geospatial analyst for the US drone program during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan from 2009 to 2012. She wrote an article in 2013 exposing the overstated capabilities of drone technology by the US and the UK as well as the psychological trauma which has affected drone operators. She speaks of a time when, due to how pixelated the video feed was, it was almost impossible to distinguish between whether the target was holding a shovel or a weapon [1]. In this circumstance, the drone was human operated and Linebaugh was still exercising control over the targeted attack, but what will happen when artificial intelligence allows drones to be operated entirely out-of-the-loop (with no human operator)?

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