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Swarms of Mass Destruction: Are Drone Swarms Weapons of Mass Destruction?


Swarms of Mass Destruction: Are Drone Swarms Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Friday, February 19, 2021
Video Synopsis: 

In this video, WMD Warfare and Drone Swarms Analyst Zachary Kallenborn provides a virtual talk on “Swarms of Mass Destruction: Are Drone Swarms Weapons of Mass Destruction?” moderated by START researcher Steve Sin. From the United States to China and Spain, numerous states are developing drone swarms. The technology has the potential to become a new weapon of destruction akin to chemical weapons, non-contagious biological weapons, and potentially low-yield nuclear weapons. Armed, fully autonomous drone swarms can bypass any arbitrary threshold for "mass destruction" and the limits of autonomous decision-making coupled with the complexity of swarms means the weapons cannot effectively discriminate between civilian and military targets. In considering traditional WMD roles, drone swarms could be effective mass casualty weapons, but are not likely to be effective strategic deterrents. Drone swarms could be useful anti-access/ area-denial and assassination weapons, depending on context. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government. 

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