I don't know if Kara is out there but I found her presentation on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in ESD.80 pretty interesting. Kara focused on the commercial uses of UAVs and discussed the barriers to wide spread commercial use.
Today there is an article in Wired News about the proposed combat uses of UAVs (renamed UCAVs - the C is for combat).
From the article:
Drones have quickly become a central part of U.S. military efforts because they can hover over a combat zone for hours on end. A flesh-and-blood pilot poops out after about 10 hours; some robotic planes can stay aloft for more than three times that long.
In Pentagon-ese, this is known as "persistence." The Defense Department would like to shift from persistent surveillance -- which the drones are now starting to provide -- to an always-on ability to kill, should an adversary pop up in a pilotless plane's sights.
Pretty crazy stuff. The military implications of risking even fewer soldiers on bombing runs are pretty intense. Can you imagine sending a few hundred drones to Afghanistan to hover over bin Laden's likely hiding places? The drone could stay there for a few months, running on solar cells, waiting for bin Laden to peak out of the hole.
The article is ominously titled the "Revenge of the Killer Drones" and talks a bit about the potential implications of autonomous drones. It sounds like there is some disagreement within the military about autonomy.