When we read the stories of how drones could revolutionize business, we got excited. Perhaps drones could deliver goods at lower costs than traditional of minimum-wage delivery boys. How about fire-fighting drones that save firemen lives. But what did we get instead? Capitalism – of course!
Interestingly, the technology has billions invested in military applications. Everyone knows “Defense” contracts are where the good money is. The idea wasn’t only in military heads though.
Aspiring entrepreneurs thought of the business applications – but soon ran into a problem. Airspace wasn’t free space. Just like roads were regulated and road traffic laws enforced, so it was with the sky. Who will make sure zillions of drones don’t just crash into each other carrying delivery-boy goods? Drones and goods falling out of the sky, crashing into private property and causing damage… but who will pay for that? Will drones be properly marked so the average American family can keep a time-honored American tradition and sue them for millions? Since, you know, the American dream doesn’t come cheap – someone has to pay for the dream house and white picket fence. Will insurance cover it?
So the innovative capitalist business men had to make a plan.
There are a lot of gadgeteers out there that would LOVE to fly these things. Some of them would pay a pretty penny for one. If drones can’t make lives better through automating honest manual work… or bombing the crap out of some innocent Arabian civilian family… maybe someone would like to pay to play with them.
And so it began. The populace got desensitized to the horrible truth of the menacing military application of these killer craft. Now you can buy your son a GREAT Christmas gift! How can you hate this great invention, if it can bring joy to your hard-to-please kids? You want to show your son you love them don’t you? He can fly his toy around the neighborhood, follow that girl he likes while she’s on her way to the shops, and take pictures with the built-in camera… gotta practice those stalker skills!
Don’t forget about the potential of them to automate delivery services! Just have to work out a few legal kinks and voila, you’ve got a great cost-savings solution that will revolutionize retail business! It will of course, put a few people out of jobs, but new ones will take their place! You know; the people that make the drones, program them, deploy them, maintain them, and paint them – you name it!
Wait, what do toy drones have to do military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles?
It all has to do with public opinion. If the public is used to the idea of drones, approves the idea of drones, and use drones (makes great toys!), then why would they deprive themselves of the ability of the technology to make their lives easier? Even in military uses, they are sold as the idea of preserving the lives of soldiers by using unmanned strike craft.
The result is a complacent public. Drones are no longer the image of an emotionless weapon that kills without discerning foe from friendly (or at least non-foe). The opinion is that drones are an imperfect technology perhaps, but still a good one.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Instead of seeing various reports like this one of the hundreds of innocents killed for each actual intended target, we rather see top shopping lists like Tom’s Guide to Best Drones to buy for 2015. Has progress been made with this technology? Is society better off with it or without it? Currently, the facts are that drones aren’t contributing to the common good.
And whether they are used as toys or used as military UAVs, their use must be justified as making the world a better place. For if they are not – then we should NOT be seeing these things. Not in the military, and neither in the consumer market. You might say that this is overkill – but is it?
Let’s take “cyber security” as a case in question. In such an advanced modern technological world, the average person expects there to be reasonable security when it comes to their personal details and financial accounts. Yet thousands of fraud and identity theft cases have to be addressed by banks all over the world on a daily basis. The victims are seldom even a reasonable part of the fraud. A hacker just grabs a ton of information from a bank’s computer system and sells it – where did the victim have a chance to stop the crime? If they let strangers “help” them at ATM’s, you could still blame the poor victim for subjecting themselves to defrauders. But with most victims, it’s completely out of their hands.
So what should we do with drones then?
The same thing people do to counter all the credit card fraud going on: Adapt. With credit cards for example, a big helper is two-factor authentication methods. It takes a big chunk out of fraud with a simple tweak to existing security. The solutions for drones need not be complicated. Each type of use for them will require different approaches of course – you can’t apply military solutions to business solutions – but the answers are not complicated.
It’s first a matter of willingness. With the military, for example, blame games are not the way to go. If Intelligence Reports are blamed for killing innocents, then where are the court cases? Where is the transparency and the accountability for the lives lost? When a kid steals a few music records on the internet, he gets jail time, but when hundreds are killed for no reason, we get a “sorry” speech from the president. How is that fair? With business, on the other hand, there’s a lot more to get done. You need the same legal infrastructure in place as you do with road traffic enforcement. This includes drone traffic laws, enforcement mechanisms, legal routes for drones to fly, etc.
We’ve done it before. We got working traffic systems. Same with the military – people have been held accountable before. The question is, who is the police? Who are the law makers for business use of drones? In a capitalist society, the answer to this is usually the same: The ones who will profit from it.