The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAW), or 'drones', as they've popularly become known, has begun to arouse a great deal of controversy both in this country and abroad. Basically these drones are aircraft that do not have a pilot on board, but are instead controlled from a remote location that may be thousands of miles away. These drones have sophisticated guidance systems that enable them to find and destroy their targets even though they may be on the other side of the world. Up to now, the most widely publicized use of these drones has been in the so-called War on Terror, but there have been increasing proposals to use these drones here domestically in the United States, for such seemingly benign uses as monitoring traffic, and also for more serious uses such as monitoring criminal activities and other types of surveillance.
What are the potential disadvantages of the increased use of drones? Basically, these drones can be classified as robots, even if for now they don't have innate intelligence and are controlled by human beings. If they ever become intelligent we may be in for real trouble, as anyone who has seen the Terminator movies can tell you. Even without SKYNET, the use of these drones, both here and abroad raises serious questions. Presidrent Obama has asserted his right to use these drones to kill suspected terrorists, even if these so-called terrorists haven't been convincted or even accussed of any crime. This is probably against internationa law, and the collateral damage (which means innocent bystanders being killed in these drone attacks) is likely to engender even greater hatred for the United States, and thus lead to even more terrorist activity.
Domestically, there are similar concerns about the use of drones. Most of us may be in favor of the surveillance of criminal activities, but who is to decide which activities are criminal? Recently in the news there have been reports of the police and investigative agencies like the FBI using paid informants to infilitrate such organiztions as antiwar groups and the Occupy Wall Street movement, among others. If the domestic use of drones becomes widespread, everything each one of us says or does will be subject to constant monitoring by the government, if it isn't already. This could have a chilling effect on the free political discussion and activity that is the lifeblood of a democracy such as ours. Most of us have read the book or seen the move '1984' by George Orwell. How would it feel to live in a society like that, where 1950s technology has been replaced by the latest developments in science, and where freedom is now longer a part of our world but just a word in a dictionary that means the opposite of what it used to mean. FREEDOM = SLAVERY, PEACE =WAR. If such a world ever becomes reality, we may root for SKYNET to destroy us.