Dear Editor,

Of course there are many, almost countless, very worthy and even fun cultural uses for drones. They could even become as ubiquitous as white vans in the sky. There are obvious roles in the military too. However I feel it is important that there is a debate about the next generation of drones that has to remain open.

There are serious ethical and moral questions that need to be asked about their use in the surveillance of our free society and their role in remote killing. The new generation of drones will have autonomy in acquiring their own targets and eliminating them. This is not a pleasant thought as drones become more available and a whole lot cheaper.

This is not a science fiction scenario this is us tacitly ushering in a dystopian future.

The important thing is, are we happy to let others forge ahead with improvements and developments in this undoubtedly scary technology without us having any sort of say in the ethical dimension that these developments keep throwing up.

Especially when terrorists apply despicable pressure using diabolical tactics, their aim being to outrage innocent people by killing indiscriminately can we still trust politicians, and our military to exert restraint ? How can it be right to hand over responsibility to an algorithm embedded in a device making this machine a digital judge and jury flying in our sky. This nightmare of warfare has already been invented and tested. How long will it be before there is an unholy rush to sanction the use of autonomous killing machines and how long before we regain some control and ban this type of use.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to bring about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. So 85 years after the modern landmine was first deployed it is still not banned in all countries. Will it take another 85 years to realize this automated self-directed killing drone was step too far?

Bill Hamblett

Small World Theatre