Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, are never far from the news these days but their operation is often shrouded in secrecy. Elizabeth Quintana, who is in charge of the Air Power and Technology programme at the Royal United Services Institute, RUSI, in London, explains the advantages and limitations of UAVs and introduces us to some of the other advanced battlefield technology we are likely to see in the near future.
Science-fiction often helps us imagine worlds completely different from the current reality. But when it comes to the future of the military, Elizabeth Moon has an additional insight because she had been a US marine. So when she suggests that the line between human soldiers and military machines might become increasingly blurred by various sorts of implants, we should take note.
Photo credit: Nancy Whitworth
David Rodin, who specialises in military ethics at the University of Oxford and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York, proposes a radical re-think of the moral responsibilities carried by individual soldiers. Instead of simply following orders, each of them should decide whether the war they are asked to fight in is just or not.
SIXTY SECOND IDEA TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Elizabeth Moon says that everyone should have a unique ID permanently attached, a kind of barcode or an implanted chip, that would provide an easy, inexpensive way to identify individuals. It would be imprinted or implanted into everyone at birth. In war, the barcode would allow us to more easily differentiate between legitimate targets, and innocent civilians: this could prevent mistaken identities that result in innocent bystanders being killed. And when anyone fired a weapon, they could be identified by their barcode, leading to more responsible warfare and more accountability, even in the world of drones and remote war.
In Next Week’s Programme:
Some people say that we now live in a world where everything can be bought and everything is for sale. So has the market gone too far in taking over our lives? The latest thoughts of political philosopher Michael Sandel, plus perspectives from Indian social entrepreneur Harish Hande and chronicler of China’s recent transformations, Jianying Zha.