Colloquium focuses on drones

Forum discusses the military use of unmanned aerial vehicles and their importance to society.

In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, have become increasingly popular with militaries around the world and one local professor is asking questions.

“What difference does it make to take the pilot out of the cockpit? Does it change anything? And I suppose in doing that we’re applying a kind of bigger idea … once we shape our tools, do our tools shape us?” asked Dr. John Hill,  Vancouver Island University’s Writing Centre co-ordinator. “Is the UAV itself the important thing rather than the specific instances of what it does? Does it change the way we engage with each other on a large scale?”

Those questions will be discussed on Friday (Oct. 17), when Hill along with Dr. Ann Rogers host a colloquium titled, The Rise of the Drones: From the Great War to Gaza.

“This talk is about what seems like a new phenomena of unmanned aerial vehicles that we’ve seen in operation on the war on terror in Afghanistan and places that America hasn’t actually been at war with, like Pakistan, the Yemen, Somalia and such places,” Hill said.

When it comes to the topic of drones, both Hill and Rogers are well-versed. The two both worked at Jane’s Intelligence Review, where Rogers was a deputy editor and Hill was the China Watch editor.

Earlier this year, the duo released their book, Unmanned: Drone Warfare and Global Security.

While many people may believe that the military use of drones are a recent phenomenon, they can actually be traced back as early as the First World War.

“Even in World War One, they were experiment crude controlled [drones] either through a program through a gyroscope that allows an airplane to correct it’s own course and altitude and those sort of things,” explained Hill.

Over the last decade, the popularity of drones has increased significantly with militaries around the world due to advances in technology.

“The technology is there to make these things work a lot better than they used to,” Hill said. “Basically the sophistication of technology is that it allows a huge increase in the level of computing power that a small aircraft can carry.”

Hill and Rogers speak at Malaspina Theatre on Friday at 10 a.m. Free parking is available in lot 5F between 9:15 a.m. and 10 a.m.

For more information on the free event, please visit

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod


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