The Reality of Drones in the Public Sphere

The Inevitability of Drones Isn’t as Pronounced as Corporations Would Have You Believe

Konstantine Roccas, Staff Writer

 Amazon and various companies have conceptualized drones that will assist in various tasks such as parcel delivery and crop dusting.

The cost-efficiency of drones indicated by their military application has transferred over to the Corporate World.

Drones are not inevitable: They carry a variety of security and safety concerns that could slow their implementation.

If recent reports are to be believed, you will soon be receiving presents not from Santa down a chimney, but by Amazon post-drones dropping parcels –instead of hellfire missiles- at your doorstep.

For the past four years, unmanned drones have been making waves in the media and public lexicon. With an ever-increasing place in militaries of various developed nations, weaponized drones revolutionized the concept of modern warfare by removing man from immediate danger: by giving the power to neutralize an enemy to someone sitting behind a desktop six thousand miles away.

With the increase in their use in the military and the cost-efficiency they bore, the public has taken a massive interest in the concept of drones whether it’s delivering mail; spraying plants on farms; or cleaning up nuclear spills. You can even use military drones in multiplayer first-person video games.

So with all this public discourse and interest in drones, they are surely an inevitable part of our future right?

Well, maybe not just yet.

The Advent of the Drone

The first modern military drone was arguably used first on February fourth 2002 in Afghanistan’s Paktia province. The target was purportedly Osama Bin Laden, and according to then US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, “a decision was made to fire the hellfire missile. It was fired.”

In perhaps a harbinger of things to come, Osama Bin Laden was not hit. Suspected terrorists weren’t hit either. Instead, the victims of this unmanned aerial attack were local villagers out collecting scrap metal to sell.

Prior to this strike, drones had always been used in a support capacity, which was perhaps an early precursor to the notion of mail-delivery and crop-dusting drones. This strike was the first to be designed as an unmanned ‘kill’ mission, and the first to pick out and neutralize a target from thousands of miles away.

The man who created the Predator Drone and its precedents, Abe Karem, was an engineer who got his start with the Israeli Military: originally set out to create a useful and reliable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that was not at risk of crashing. With the creation of the ancestor to the Predator, called Amber, he and his engineering team were able to fly a single UAV for 650 hours without a single crash. Though the contract for these Amber UAV’s was cancelled in 1988, the slow shift to robotic warfare had already begun.

During the Balkan wars of the 1990’s, The Clinton Administration began looking for ways to monitor the conflict. Then CIA chief James Woolsey recalled Karem, who he had met earlier and whom he says is an “entrepreneurial genius and lives to create,” and ordered two drones installed with cameras to be flown over Bosnia and relay information back to the US military in Albania. The engineering modifications necessary to make this possible were those that directly led to the Predator model, which had become so prevalent in the new millennium.

The Cost-Efficiency of Drones and their Transition to the Corporate World

As drone usage became more and more pronounced as the new millennium progressed, strategists, economists and other analysts raved about the cost-efficiency of drones. No longer were people required to risk their lives scouting out a potential target.

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