Portland, Ore. – Enthused cosmopolites champion societal benefits of insidiously blithe, antisocial behavior; galvanized by technology, vocally war-weary and recalcitrant class consciousness blames inhuman, robotic technology. Modestly exhibiting a mélange of mixed angst, outrage and hoorah, a humble crowd gathered on Thursday evening to hear from guest speakers at a community discussion regarding drone control.
At the Eliot chapel of downtown Portland’s historic 1st Unitarian church, Oregonian columnist Steve Duin welcomed guests to the forum, and invited speakers including: Oregon State Representative Jennifer Williamson, Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International vice-president Brian Whiteside, lecturer and investigative reporter currently coordinating the Alliance to Resist Robotic Warfare and Society Peter Lumsdaine, and former U.S. Army colonel, retired State Department official now lecturer on foreign policy issues, Ann Wright.
Commended for her recent effort on OR. HB 4143 – that which conjectured unclaimed class action lawsuit monetary settlements in Oregon state accrue to funding legal aid – the laudable Rep. Williamson is currently working on legislature for new and modified Oregon privacy laws to encompass surveillance technologies of the 21st century. His agency responsible for a presentation overviewing emerging unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and suggesting drone-use regulations and protections for private citizens to Oregon legislature later this year, present in the audience was director of the Oregon Department of Aviation, Mitch Swecker.
Describing Oregon as a global leader in UAV design and innovation, an industry with a “blossoming future” and “one of those things we can’t ignore,” in his turn Mr. Whiteside (drone expert) addressed the relativity of Oregon’s economy to this emerging aerial robotic technology. With fewer than a dozen FAA-approved UAV test sites in existence, yet one found in either Pendelton, Warren Springs or Tillamook, Oregon is unique in the case of being a cluster of the aerial drone industry. When asked about intended purpose and how these sites were selected, Mr. Whiteside said they are meant to develop understandings for future integration of this technology with general airspace, develop safety plans & procedures, and fine tune air-worthiness, propulsion, and sense and avoid mechanisms.
Also proffered to the forum on Thursday was the in person experience of witnessing testaments admonishing robotic warfare, the spurning shade of existential quote philosophical monkey wrench that is Peter Lumsdaine. Citing colleagues’ books and articles and examples from pop culture futuristic media, Peter mentioned Denise Garcia’s involved role as U.N. delegate at the May 12–18th, 2014 International Committee for Robots Arms Control, Convention on Certain Weapons in Geneva, surmising such as “stone cold robotic killers” John E. Pike’s rumination on the acceleration of ground based military drones, quoted Bill Joy’s article for Wired Magazine, titled Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us, and plugged Brookings Institutions’s Peter Singer’s book Wired For War.
What lasted from 7-9:30pm in the chapel at downtown Portland’s historic 1st Unitarian Church, Thursday’s event – Community Forum About Drones: Myths, Facts, Futures – hosted by Oregonians for Drone Control, marks the first Portland, Oregon based public conversation and panel discussion I’ve attended since beginning to blog my notes from them nearly two years ago. The event also provided a spotlight for David Rovics, who voiced political concern in two songs he performed on acoustic guitar. Assuming his gripping Irish cantor, the chorus of one refrained “we’ll fight for neither King nor Kaiser, neither God nor Country.”
After select questions were brought before the forum, those whose questions remain unaddressed were allowed before a microphone at the head of the aisle. Stating a desire to know where Oregon is going now, an angelically spoken elder Oregonian woman helped reframe the central importance of the demilitarization of this technology. Applied to potentially weaponized robotic and cyborg technology, international law should be established in the close future to provision ethically and morally defined applications of humanitarian intent.