A new short film illustrating the prospect of military drones has been commissioned for an event at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons, which is being hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The film presents a fictionalized scenario in which a tech company showcases and deploys its latest combat drone, which is capable of distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys. A montage of mock new reports illustrates what happens next, when the device's true abilities are revealed and the machines begin killing off politicians and activists. Stuart Russell, an artificial intelligence (AI) scientist at the University of California in Berkeley, is part of the group that will show the film to attendees. He has stated that the technology depicted in the film already exists, and it would actually be much easier to implement than self-driving vehicles.
Turkey is to become the first nation to use drones able to find, track and kill people without human intervention. The country recently started producing armed, human-operated drones and is reported to have used them hundreds of times in north-west Syria. Now, Turkish defence company STM has announced that the nation's army will start using its Kargu drones early next year. These 7-kilogram quadcopters are intended to be used as part of a cooperative swarm.
Binge watchers of Netflix's Black Mirror, released on Friday, understand that the only thing more terrifying than a swarm of bees, is a swarm of robotic bees harnessed to a nefarious end. The final episode, "Hated in the Nation," is showrunner Charlie Brooker's pièce de résistance, a truly terrifying imagination of the near future that comes a little too close to the truth for comfort. The super-long season finale takes aim at the real, destructive power of swarms, online and IRL. In this episode, (spoilers ahead) the villains are robotic bees, made to pollinate crops in the absence of real insects, but hacked, so that instead they go after the targets of online dragnets. Anyone marked with the #DeathTo hashtag might soon find themselves swarmed by tiny drones that fly up their nose and short-circuit their brain as their victim meets an extraordinarily painful end.
It's not every feeding frenzy when a shark becomes the prey instead of the predator. But recently, a drone hobbyist stumbled upon just such an encounter, capturing footage of a pod of whales chasing down a shark off the coast of Sydney, Australia. Experts are having a hard time IDing the juvenile shark, but its hunters appear to be a species called false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens, not to be confused with killer whales). The shark's fate appears grim--in the video, you can see one of the whales briefly surface with the hapless animal firmly clutched in its jaws. Marine biologists, however, are excited to see the pod in action, as false killer whales are rarely spied in the waters around Sydney.