This Israeli Presentation on How to Make Drone Strikes More "Efficient" Disturbed Its Audience
Publisher: The Intercept
Date Written: 05/12/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21793
Research backed by the U.S. and Israeli military scandalized a conference near Tel Aviv earlier this year after a presentation showed how the findings would help drone operators more easily locate people -- including targets -- fleeing their strikes and better navigate areas rendered unrecognizable by prior destruction.
Part of the controversy over the research presentation traces back to the desensitized environment in which drone pilots operate, which is not frequently seen by outsiders. In this world, the pilots ask questions that might sound absurd outside the context of aerial robot-aided killing: What happens when you want to kill someone, but they've run into a building, and you're not sure where they'll exit? What happens when a town has been so thoroughly destroyed, you can't recognize it anymore and get lost?
The presenter of the drone material, Yuval Zak, told the Intercept he was surprised by the audience reaction and hostile questioning after his presentation. "The conversation changed from dealing with visualization and improving information presentation on a map to a discussion about the ethical issues of using drones," he wrote in an email. "But the focus of the conference and my paper is entirely different." The technology he presented could just as easily be used for policing and search and rescue as for drone strikes, he said any time-critical scenario involving a map.