Should Killer Drone Swarms Be Considered Weapons of Mass Destruction? – Popular Mechanics

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  • Military and consumer drones have evolved quickly in the post-9/11 era, as technology rapidly advances and brings new capabilities online.
  • The utility of killer drone swarms, in which large groups of drones cooperate to hunt and kill people, makes their development likely.
  • The ability to kill on a large scale, coupled with the inability of a drone swarm to tell between combatants and noncombatants, means such weapons should be classified as weapons of mass destruction, with heavy penalties on their use.

    Swarms of autonomous kamikaze drones, capable of hunting down and killing people, should be considered weapons of mass destruction. That’s the conclusion of an article at West Point’s Modern War Institute blog, which argues such drones should be treated like other WMDs, including nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

    These swarms, which are autonomous, work in groups, and carry lethal payloads, could be unleashed against armies or cities, to equally deadly effect.

    Zachary Kallenborn’s article begins with the 2017 viral video “Slaughterbots” (below), which mixes an imaginary TED-style talk by a defense contractor with fictional news reports of armed drone swarms unleashed on universities, cities, and the U.S. Senate. The video, the brainchild of a computer science professor at UC Berkeley, was shown at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons and