Wim Zwijnenburg

Data, Drones and Death

Since the introduction of armed drones on the battlefield in 2001, the use of these remote controlled killing machines has rapidly increased all across the globe, setting a new norm for warfare and counter-terrorism operations. Data collection is playing a larger role in the process of intelligence gathering and, as a result, in targeting procedures for striking against combatants and suspected terrorists. And there is a creeping use of autonomy in this process, fed by data and algorithms through new means of cyberwarfare.

Not only armed forces reap the benefits of remote killing: armed groups have deployed civilian drones for reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and even armed strikes at an alarmingly high rate. Their expertise is growing and these systems can also be deployed in our own countries for attacks. These developments require that civilians keep their governments accountable for what they develop, use and export. We need to engage strongly in how technology and data is changing our society, and in particular how it changes our armed forces. How are these new technologies shaping the way wars are fought? And more importantly, how can we ensure we keep oversight and control over military developments, spending and push back against a new norm of remote killing.

Representing BEEA

Wim is presenting for BEEA, a group of builders, engineers, explorers and artists who unite to share their passions and knowledge.


Wim Zwijnenburg is Project Leader Humanitarian Disarmament at PAX. His current work focuses on emerging military technologies such as armed drones. He has published various reports and articles on the subject. He is a member of the International Committee on Robotic Arms Control (ICRAC) and engages part of the European Forum on Armed Drones (EFAD) with the UN, the EU and States to raise various concerns over the increased use and proliferation of remote controlled weapons. He also runs the Conflict & Environment program for PAX, focusing on the Middle East.

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