Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

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Flying killer robots was once a nightmarish sci-fi fantasy—one thing that solely existed in James Cameron motion pictures or Michael Crichton novels. Lately, not a lot. Not solely is drone warfare near twenty years previous, however improvements to this deadly expertise are being developed on a regular basis.

Working example: New Scientist journal just lately unearthed a contract between the U.S. Air Pressure and a bit recognized protection agency that reveals the federal government is utilizing reconnaissance and surveillance drones outfitted with facial recognition to assist in particular operations missions. Whereas the journal notes that these smaller drones aren’t sometimes armed (not like, say, their large siblings, the Predator and the Reaper), they clearly current dizzying new prospects for America’s most shadowy and lethal cadres. The Air Pressure’s supplier is a Seattle-based agency, RealNetworks, which sells a platform dubbed Safe Correct Facial Recognition, or SAFR. The federal government paid $729,056 for SAFR, which will probably be deployed “on an autonomous sUAS for particular ops, ISR, and different expeditionary use-cases,” in keeping with the contract. Whereas not a ton is thought about how the U.S. is utilizing this expertise or how lengthy it’s been utilizing it, one factor is definite: it’s creeping folks out.

“Massive large NOPE to the whole lot right here,” tweeted Jake Wiener, a lawyer with the digital privateness group EPIC, in response to the information.

One other critic, Nicholas Davis, of the College of Expertise Sydney, informed Newsweek: “There are innumerable moral implications, from the best way such units would possibly redistribute energy or threaten teams inside a society, to the methods during which they threaten established worldwide humanitarian regulation in battle zones.”

Skeptics have dutifully famous the horrifying nature of this explicit integration. Given the truth that particular operations models are most well-known for his or her clandestine and deadly actions (learn: assassinations and raids), the deployment of an AI-powered airborne robotic affixed with face recording tech means America’s goon squads now have a strong new device to hold out their darkish deeds. Motherboard notes that such drones may simply be used for “intelligence and goal acquisition,” that means that anyone being trailed by these little contraptions might be in deep shit.

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The scariest factor about this improvement, frankly, is that it’s clearly solely the start of the race to make drones quicker, smarter, extra subtle and, doubtlessly, extra deadly. From the Navy’s deliberate drone swarm warfare to the surge in drone use within the Russo-Ukrainian warfare, to the specter of flying robots that would come outfitted with chemical or organic payloads, prepare in your worst sci-fi nightmares to return true.

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