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UKRI Future Leader Joins LCFI to Study Drones and Culture


The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence is pleased to welcome Dr Beryl Pong, UKRI Future Leaders scholar. The UKRI initiative aims to support a new cohort of the UK's most talented researchers, enabling them to work across disciplines to tackle critical global issues. 

Dr Pong has joined the LCFI team to establish the Centre for Drones and Culture at the LCFI. Her project, "Droned Life: Data, Narrative, and the Aesthetics of Worldmaking", studies the ethics and politics of drone proliferation in the areas of art, war, humanitarianism, and ecology. Like many technologies, drones have military origins, and well-documented controversies surround their use in remote warfare.

Drones have now entered different realms of civilian life, from the geopolitical to the domestic, and questions surrounding what constitutes ethical or appropriate drone use persist; if anything, they've gotten messier. From 'How do we safeguard data?' and 'What should the thresholds for human input be?' to 'How do we navigate the asymmetrical aspects of drone technology?'.

Dr Pong says: 

"Being at LCFI allows me to engage in these complex issues about our future drone world alongside leading experts, and hopefully to pursue some possible paths forward."

She is working with co-investigators from Politics, Digital Media, and Computer Sciences, in addition to three main industry collaborators: the Imperial War Museum, the NGO Drone Wars UK, and the creative agency Human Studio

As part of her fellowship, she is hiring a Post Doctoral Research Associate to work on some of the big questions about drone ethics:

"The position is open to all fields and we hope to find someone interested in engaging different drone publics who are often siloed from one another. For example, some drone photographers may say that they're working in a completely different world to that of drone warfare, but the "worlds" that drones create can and do coincide. This has been clear in the Myanmar civil war and the Ukraine-Russia war, where common civilian drones have been refitted and repurposed for conflict. We are looking for a PDRA with an open mind who will help facilitate these uneasy conversations through their research and through supporting our various engagement events." Dr Pong. 

More information about this role and how to apply can be found here until the 16th of April, when applications close. 

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