Drone warfare has increased dramatically since 2008 and there are over 60 bases across the globe engaging in a US drone missions. US drones are currently deployed in the skies of over 14 different countries, some for surveillance and others for attacking ground targets. The area of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, known as Waziristan is the locus of much of the drone operations. But are these weapons keeping us safe, or do they just incite further terrorist attacks? And is their use a violation of the Geneva Conventions?
The forerunners of drones that are currently targeting people on the ground were once themselves targets. They have since evolved into reconnaissance vehicles, and more recently as weapons platforms. Predator drones are manufactured in Poway, near San Diego, where over 4,000 people are employed at General Atomics at the taxpayers’ expense. We examine the implications of this kind of warfare, and the loop of finance that rewards contractors and the politicians they support.
Who bears responsibly for lethal action when weapons are fully automated? Can a machine have a code of ethics? While their accuracy might, in theory, minimize innocent deaths, drones also enable illegal political assassinations, and by keeping US troops out of harm’s way they also make war easier. A serious debate on these topics is long overdue.