Killer Autonomous Weapons in Africa: Media Delay and Degeneracy
Last March we reported the use of Turkish killer drones in autonomous mode in Libya. This information was initially noticed on March 17 by Laurent Lagneau in a UN report on the ineffectiveness of the arms embargo imposed on Libya. This report dated March 8 was announced by the UN on March 17.
Except Laurent Lagneau in France and lenouveaureporter in Togo, journalists, even the specialised ones, either missed this information or felt that it was not worth an article. And suddenly since May 30 a few dozen articles devoted to this information have been published in the francophone1 or English-speaking media2 . It's two and a half months later.
This cluster of publications follows an article by Zachary Kallenborn on May 20 on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, then an article by David Hambling on May 27 on the NewScientist site. David Hambling had already published an article in September 2019 on the use of Turkish killer autonomous drones in Syria. Regarding the francophone media, it should be noted that the first two sites to have mentioned this information are Sputnik France and Russia Today France. For their part, the French media began to cover this information from the next day at best. And major media like RFI or Le Monde have not yet reacted.
In the English-speaking media, after the articles by Kallenborn and Hambling, the New York Post and Fox News reported this information, followed in particular by The Independent, Popular Mechanics and NPR, but most of the major US media did not react.
The lack of media coverage of such a major event for two and a half months was shocking: the first use of a weapon in autonomous mode, i.e. in a mode where an artificial intelligence can decide to kill without any human intervention, is a fact constituting the beginning of a sea change in the way men kill each other.
From a cindynical point of view, in our post of March 19, we gave the example of a perception disparity between the CCAC French experts for whom lethal autonomous weapons systems do not exist, and the UN report experts who mention the use of such lethal autonomous weapons systems in Libya.
The media coverage more than two months late illustrates two other cindynical notions: information gaps, and degeneracies. The lack of media coverage for two and a half months stems from a lack of information on the part of journalists, who did not know how, or could not, or did not want to find the information. And this information gap in turn causes a generalised information gap since people are not informed: the consequence is an absence of political mobilisation, therefore a lack of political decisions that should enable to proscribe the development and proliferation of a plainly dystopian technology.
Another cindynical notion: degeneracy, i.e. the absence of priorities. The glaring illustration is given by the headline selections that Google makes on its news pages: how is it possible to justify that an information as important as the use of autonomous killer drones in Africa is not referenced on Google news, and that on the other hand articles devoted to petty events are referenced on this home page? While there has been a lot of criticism of Russian media in recent times, it should be honestly noted that Google has the overwhelming power to decide what humans need to know about, on a planetary scale. Coincidence or not: some time ago, Eric Schmidt, the ex-CEO of Google, provided Joe Biden with a report in favor of lethal autonomous weapons.
These media coverage problems illustrate the importance of cindynamics and the role of information flows in cindynogenesis i.e. in the fabrication of danger. We can thus think of the role of the media in the UN's inaction during the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994, or in the delay of the WHO's reaction during the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Among others.
Beyond the position taken by Emmanuel Macron, who initially spoke out against this technology, the media coverage of this issue could lead to practical initiatives at the international level, which should enable a political mobilisation against the development of killer robots which António Guterres has already denounced as"politically unacceptable" and "morally repugnant"
14:42 30.05.2021 En Libye, des humains ont été «pourchassés» par des drones de combat létaux autonomes, selon un rapport de l’Onu - Sputnik France
30 mai 2021, 15:39 Des drones tueurs autonomes auraient traqué des rebelles libyens en 2020, selon un rapport de l'ONU — RT en français
31/05/2021 à 10h09 Un drone tueur a 'attaqué' une cible humaine sans en avoir reçu l'ordre, selon l'ONU
31/05/2021 10:40 Un drone autonome tueur aurait attaqué une cible humaine sans en avoir reçu l'ordre
31/05/2021 à 11h26 En Libye, un drone aurait «abattu une cible humaine» sans en recevoir l’ordre – Libération
31/05/2021 à 11:50 Pour la première fois, un drone a pris en chasse des humains sans recevoir d’ordre
31/05/2021 à 20h19 Un drone armé aurait abattu un soldat sans instructions en mars 2020 - Le Point
01/06/2021 à 15:22 Un drone «tueur» a «chassé une cible humaine» sans en avoir reçu l'ordre selon l'ONU | CNEWS
01/06/2021 à 15:23 Un drone militaire a attaqué un humain en Libye sans avoir reçu d'ordre, une première - midilibre.fr
1/06/2021 à 17:29 Interdire l’usage des robots tueurs est devenu une urgence - Le Soir Plus
01/06/2021 - 19:10 Des drones "tueurs" autonomes ont-ils été déployés en Libye ?
1/06/2021 19h44 Un drone a-t-il pris en chasse des humains de manière totalement autonome ? | LCI
02/06/2021 à 7h38 Pour la première fois, des drones ont abattu un homme sans aucun ordre humain | korii.
02/06/2021 Un drone autonome a attaqué une cible humaine
02/06/2021 à 10h06 Un drone tueur autonome en Libye ? Une première qui suscite l'inquiétude - Le Parisien
02/06/2021 à 15h28 Des robots tueurs ont-ils frappé pour la première fois de l’Histoire ?
May 20, 2021 Was a flying killer robot used in Libya? Quite possibly - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
27 May 2021 Drones may have attacked humans fully autonomously for the first time | New Scientist
May 27, 2021 UN: Turkish Drones Attacked Libyan Forces In Autonomous Mode | Aviation Week Network
May 29, 2021 | 2:05pm Killer drone 'hunted down a human target' without being told to
30 may 2021 Killer drone ‘hunted down a human target’ without being told to | Fox News
May. 30th 2021 10:24 am ET An incident raises concerns over autonomous killer drones - DroneDJ
May 30, 2021, 1:06 PM Killer Drone 'Hunted Down' a Human Target Without Being Told To: UN
30 May 2021 15:44 Rogue Killer Drone ‘Hunted Down’ Human Target Without Being Told To, UN Reports - UNILAD
May 30, 2021 4:48 PM ET Drone Hunts Down a Human Without Being Ordered To – PJ Media
May 31, 2021 An Autonomous Drone May Have Hunted Down a Human | IE
02:31, Mon, May 31, 2021 AI weapon ‘hunted down humans without being told’ warns UN report | World | News | Express.co.uk
31 May 2021, 9:48 UTC Weaponized Drone in Fully Autonomous Mode Hunts Down and Engages Human Target - autoevolution
31 May 2021 11:39 am Killer drones may have autonomously attacked humans for the first time | Metro News
31 may 2021 3:45PM Drone Autonomously 'Hunted Down' Human Target, UN Experts Say
31 may 2021 17:16 An Autonomous Weaponized Drone "Hunted Down" Humans Without Command For First Time | IFLScience
31 May 2021, 8:13 pm Military drones may have attacked humans for first time without being instructed to, UN report says | The Independent
May 31, 2021 8:55 p.m. PT Autonomous drone attacked soldiers in Libya all on its own - CNET
Jun 1, 2021 For First Time, Drones Autonomously Attacked Humans: UN Report
June 1, 20213:09 PM ET Autonomous Drone Strike In Libya Subject Of Recent United Nations Report : NPR
6.1.2021 4:55 PM Autonomous ‘Slaughterbot’ Drones Reportedly Attack Libyans Using Facial Recognition Tech – Reason.com
02 Jun 2021 / 09:56 H Drone attacks soldiers all on its own