Autonomous Drones

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John Robb on the implications of the Northrop Grumman aircraft/drone:

"It's an autonomous aircraft/drone that has a full weapons bay (4,500 lbs). Say that word again: autonomous. That's the breakthrough feature. This also means:

It can make its own "kill decision." Again and again and again. That decision is going to get better and better and cheaper and cheaper (Moore's law has made insect level intelligence available for pennies, rat intelligence is next).

It isn't vulnerabe to a pilot in Nevada directing it to land in Iran. Oops.

It will eventually (sooner than you think) be the "Queen," making decisions for thousands of smaller swarmed (semi-autonomous) drones it lays on a battle zone (aka "city").

In sum: It allows an unprecedented automation of conventional violence.

Granted, it will be possible for small groups to put together systems like this on the cheap. For offensive or defense reasons.

However, I'm much more worried about their ability to automate repression, particularly if combined with software bots that sift/sort/monitor all of your data 24x7x365 (already going on). " (

More Information

  • Book. Daniel Suarez, Kill Decisions, fictional treatment on the implications of drones