A Short History of Drones in Scifi and Recommendations for Movies, Books, and Short Stories

A Short History of Drones in Scifi and Recommendations for Movies, Books, and Short Stories

Drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), are in the news this week with the drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. Ever since the CIA weaponized Predators in 2002 the conversation has typically been about killer drones remotely piloted by soldiers as part of a government’s military operations. There’s a summary of history at understandingempire.wordpress.com and you can go to io9 for a clever 5 minute video about how CIA weaponized drones and the computer vision  involved gizmodo.com. In 2014 the United Nations held a Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems in 2014 to discuss killer robots www.un.org, focusing on getting governments to sign off. But as the Saudi Arabia attacks highlight, weaponized drones are becoming available to non-state actors (yes, it appears the ones in Saudi Arabia were launched from Iran or Iraq, but Hamas has been using inexpensive drones for years). And these drones do not appear to be remotely piloted or use any computer vision; they are basically GPS controlled cruise missiles. That makes them extremely hard to defend against, since there is no radio signal back to its home to detect and they are the size of a large bird.

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