It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.
Food has always a central part of Houda Al-Fadil’s life. Some of her fondest childhood memories center around preparing dishes such as makdous (pickled or oil-cured, stuffed eggplant) with her mother in her home town on the outskirts of Damascus.
“We sat around our mom when she prepared it,” she recalls. “We did the same when she prepared mulukhiyah,” she adds, referring to a leafy plant from the region used like spinach in stews or with lamb and rice. “These were happy times and wonderful get-togethers with my mom and sisters.”
Then war broke out and the happy days ended. Houda’s husband lost his job and the family faced tremendous hardships. That’s when her cooking skills came in handy. “I cooked kibbah (croquettes filled with lamb or chicken) and I prepared hacked parsley, stuffed zucchinis and grape leaves,” she says. “For those celebrating the arrival of a baby, I supplied wrapped candies. I made pancakes.”