Allow me just a little self-congratulatory chest-beating. Four years ago I started writing a near-fiction thriller about the risks of swarms of UAVs in the wrong hands. Everyone I talked to back then (including my agent, alas) thought the subject was implausible, even silly. Well, it’s not like I’m the next Vernor Vinge — it always seemed like a pretty blatantly obvious prediction to me — but I am pleased to see that drones and drone swarms have finally become the flavor of the month.
In the last month, the Stanford Law Review has wrung its hands about the “ethical argument pressed in favor of drone warfare,” while anti-genocide activists have called for the use of “Drones for Human Rights” in Syria and other troubled nations; the UK and France declared a drone alliance; and a new US law compels the FAA to allow police and commercial drones in American airspace, which may lead to “routine aerial surveillance of American life.”
We’ve been reporting on UPenn’s astonishing drone-swarm research (great title, John!) and Sandia Labs’s self-guiding bullets, and I’ve been on a drone kick for more than a year. Now John Robb, the author of Brave New War, has taken up the drone cudgel with great enthusiasm: in the last couple of weeks, he’s written about drones as the future of warfare, drone diplomacy, defenses against drones, BattleSwarms, and the inevitable ban of drone technology, plus his takes on some of the stories mentioned above. Go ahead and take a look: I’ll wait.