This research theme within the ICCS focuses on the impact of new developments in science and technology on the possibilities for conflict and cooperation in global politics. Current areas of interest of researchers within this theme include the impact of advanced robotics on security (currently this work focuses on armed drone technology and the possibilities of its regulation); the impact of new technologies of surveillance (including drones) on privacy and security within cities; and the possibilities of developing new arms control regimes to reduce mistrust and suspicion among states developing cyber capabilities. Building on the ICCS’s commitment to cross-disciplinary research, the current projects in this theme focus on the security challenges and opportunities that the development of remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) or drones, as they are more popularly known, pose for national and international security in the short, medium, and longer term.
A key question that our research is investigating reflecting the ICCS’s commitment to exploring the possibilities for cooperation at the global level is whether there should be international regulation of current and future armed drone technology. This reflects, in part, the growing concern, particularly among some NGOs monitoring state activities in this area that the development of fully autonomous drones could effectively take human decision-makers out of the firing chain.
This ESRC funded research project will investigate in a comparative context how conflicting perceptions of the use of drones shapes the propensities for conflict and cooperation both within the territory of the penetrated state and between the intervening state and the state in which the drones are operating.
The sixth University of Birmingham Policy Commission is exploring the implications of warfare becoming increasingly remote in the 21st Century. It examines the challenges and opportunities that drone technology – both commercial and military – poses for current and successive UK governments.
Looking beyond the controversies surrounding the use of armed drones in the Global War on Terror, the Commission considers the ways in which new developments in science and technology transform the landscape of security and defence and the implications this has for UK public policy in a national, regional, and international context.
The Commission's academic lead is Professor Nicholas J Wheeler, Director of the ICCS, who is supported by Professor David Hastings Dunn, Professor Mark Webber, Professor Stefan Wolff, Dr Peter Gray, and Mr Paul Schulte