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The US Now Faces the Same Dilemma Over Drones As It Did Over Nuclear Weapons 211

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-did-we-learn dept.
Lasrick writes "Hugh Gusterson examines the crossroads at which the U.S. finds itself on the use of drones, and the long-term consequences of choices made now, by looking at the history of choices the U.S. made in the 1940s regarding nuclear weapons. Thoughtful read. Quoting: 'Having seen what drones are capable of, political leaders can choose to place clear limits, domestically and internationally, on how they can be used. Or, telling the American people that drones will make them safer or that "you can’t stop technology," they can allow free rein to those military inventors, national security bureaucrats and industry entrepreneurs eager to develop drone technology as aggressively as possible. Such people are impatient to press ahead with new unmanned aerial vehicles, including smart drones and mini-drones, to sell both to the US military for use overseas and to law-enforcement bodies within the United States. If drone development continues unchecked, what can we expect? First, as with nuclear weapons, proliferation. At the moment the United States, Britain, and Israel are the only countries to have used weaponized drones. But many countries, including Russia and China, have been watching carefully as Washington has experimented with counterinsurgency by drone, and are considering how they might use this relatively cheap technology for their own purposes. If they decide to use their own drones outside the boundaries of international law against people they brand “terrorists,” the United States will hardly be in a position to condemn them or counsel restraint.'"
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The US Now Faces the Same Dilemma Over Drones As It Did Over Nuclear Weapons

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  • Not the same... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlts (1038732) * on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:30PM (#45496071)

    Nuclear weapons take a lot of processing, be it getting the raw materials (only available from a few spots), refining it (very tough), refining it further to be able to be used (even more tough), and getting it working.

    You can buy a "drone" for $100 from woot.com, and unlike nukes where no matter how better technology gets, the stuff needed stays rare, AIs will always improve, and the hardware needed is very common.

    • Re:Not the same... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:40PM (#45496157) Journal

      Well, there is one other small difference:

      As expensive and technically tough as it is to make a nuclear weapon (and its delivery system!), even a small nuke can do a hell of a lot more damage in one go than even 1,000 drones can accomplish. Quake analogy? multiple blasters versus a given BFG (or rather, one very amped-up BFG).

      There is also the fact that drones are still subject to interference, and that there is only so much room in the sky to hold a sufficient number of drones (to do the same damage as a nuke) on a practical level.

      I honestly get that there is a huge potential for problems stemming from the use of drones-as-weapons, but unlike a 'fire-and-forget' ICBM/SRBM/SLBM*? The drone still has to call home, most have to get their instructions and updates from somewhere, a higher degree of accuracy is required, and as a practical matter they need sufficient safeguards built in to avoid having it turn around and attack its owner(s).

      * note that I'm not even counting a missile (or any type) with a MIRV warhead.

      • Re:Not the same... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:53PM (#45496295) Homepage

        Agreed. The big reason why nukes are bad is that there really is no way to use them without harming civilians. Even the smallest nuclear weapon, suitable for destroying just an enemy base, is still very likely to produce fallout that will spread to civilian populations.

        Drones are not fully-automated killing machines. They aren't just thrown in the sky to exterminate an area. They're still piloted by humans from a distance. Yes, there are still civilian casualties, but that's not because the weapon of choice is remote-controlled.

      • Re:Not the same... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by poetmatt (793785) on Friday November 22, 2013 @08:19PM (#45497029) Journal

        "even a small nuke can do a hell of a lot more damage in one go than even 1,000 drones can accomplish"

        No.

        Never was, never is, and never will be true, ever. There are a lot of potential variables in how a drone can be weaponized that never guarantee that drones can't be equipped with, say, nuclear weapons for example.

      • by khallow (566160)
        Let's step it up a little more. In addition to nuclear-armed and autonomous drones as previous repliers noted, we can have self-reproduction. Throw in a bunch of rad and EMP hardened, self-reproducing, tunneling, autonomous drones into an area and you might not be able to get them out even with repeated application of large nuclear weapons.

        I'm sure at some point, evolution will kick in so that the drones are more interested in reproduction than in messing with the humans, but that could take a long time.
      • by gorehog (534288)

        The entire analogy is faulty. Drones are only delivery vehicles. A drone is entirely capable of delivering a nuclear device or finding a lost hiker on a mountain. The problem of drones is one of the people deploying them. They're not inherently dangerous in the same way as a nuclear weapon.

    • I've had enough of the 'ZOMG drones!!!11!!' from all corners...it's facile and ignorant...

      Drones are just a different delivery system for the same armament...usually a hellfire missile. Nothing a 'drone' does can't be done by a piloted craft...or a cruise missile...or a piloted craft converted to a drone [wired.com]

      Nuclear weapons **could be launched from a drone**

      See how this is comparing apples and baseballs?

      Let's all agree to stop the madness! 'drones' are remote-piloted versions of the human piloted vehicles....it's the **armaments** and **who we are shooting at and why** that matter...not the delivery system of the armament!!!

      • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Friday November 22, 2013 @07:55PM (#45496833)

        I agree, but there's a wrinkle you didn't mention.

        The one thing you can do with drones you can't do with an F-16 is have the damn thing film a target for hours. Since an F-16 has a human pilot, who can't sit in that tiny-little cockpit for 12 hours straight, it's missions have to be kept short. Moreover since F-16 pilots are very valuable assets the plane has to be designed so that the pilot has a very good chance of getting home. That means it has to be able to run away real fast, it needs backup systems if something goes wrong, it needs all kinds of weapons to deal with threats, etc. There's a reason new F-16s cost $40-50 million and the latest generation combat aircraft is well past $100 million. You don't want those things hanging around a warzone shooting video 24/7 for a week. They might notice, and start taking pot-shots, and eventually they'll figure out how to bring it down.

        Which means if you're fighting with conventional aircraft you have real motive to blow everything to smithereens. It wastes lots of your money (ammo ain't free), but it saves even more expensive planes and pilots.

        OTOH a $10 million drone is expendable. It can hang out filming some suspected enemy's house all day. Literally. They have an endurance in the 30-hour range. Your drone jockeys do 80-hour shifts drinking Dew and eating Cheeto's. If you trade off drones you can easily have a house under observation for weeks. During that time you can gather a lot of data on whose in the House, when they're in the House (does the little kid always leave to play soccer in the mid-afternoon, or does he sometimes stay home?), etc. You burn a lot of AvGas, but in the mean-time you gain a lot of info. Info that lets you do things like wait until said little kid is out of the house to level it.

        Which is why the hated drone war has only produced a few thousand casualties, less then a thousand a year, whereas a non-drone campaign would produce 10,000 a year.

        • have the damn thing film a target for hours

          as if we do that, ever...

          our 'total battlefield awareness' means we use multiple data feeds integrated into a 3D battlefield rendering, with all assests renedered in real time as best as possible...

          first, we use satellites for what you describe...or high altitude aircraft networked with the battlefield assests...

          your counterpoint demonstrates alot of cooll technical knowledge but it doesn't have anything to do with my comment

          • The non-classified info on drones in Pakistan is that we use them to observe our targets before we level the house. This makes sense to me because a) it's hard to get good resolution on where a specific human is from a satellite, b) we have no assets on the ground in Pakistan, and c) we have no combat aircraft in Pakistan. If you google Drone Pilots PTSD you'll see numerous sources claiming that this is exactly what drone pilots do every day.

            The relation to your post was that I was showing another reason wh

            • The relation to your post was that I was showing another reason why 'ZOMG drones!!!11!!' was stupid.

              i get it now

              what you say about current use of drones and PTSD of operators thereof is the same thing I've heard/seen

              If you're the kind of person who worries about the US Military being heavy-handed you're the kind of person who should absolutely love drones because they produce an order of magnitude fewer civilian casualties then the alternatives.

              I agree here too. It's a sign of how muddled this discussion ha

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            our 'total battlefield awareness' means we use multiple data feeds integrated into a 3D battlefield rendering, with all assests renedered in real time as best as possible...

            first, we use satellites for what you describe...or high altitude aircraft networked with the battlefield assests...

            The drones we are discussing are aircraft. Some of them were designed first and foremost for surveillance, and most of those were designed specifically with long loiter time in mind specifically for that mission. HTH, HAND.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Since an F-16 has a human pilot, who can't sit in that tiny-little cockpit for 12 hours straight...

          Not disagreeing with your overall premise, as it is correct, but your details are quite a bit off.

          As an actual F-16 pilot, who has had the unpleasant experience of sitting in that tiny-little cockpit for anywhere from 8 to 16 hours on numerous occasions, I can vouch that this is not only possible, but we do it on a routine basis in-theater (and pond-crossings, i.e. crossing oceans).

          Want to know what I was doing? Maintaining constant surveillance on target locations in the skies of Iraq. Almost 200 "combat

    • Re:Not the same... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bob_super (3391281) on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:52PM (#45496283)

      Maybe, but it's not the point.

      The main difference is that only 2 nukes were ever used to kill people, and then the world decided that doing that again would have to be an absolute last resort.
      Drones, on the other hand, are dreamt as a clean way to "do business", and highly likely to get used more and by everybody.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        The main difference is that only 2 nukes were ever used to kill people, and then the world decided that doing that again would have to be an absolute last resort.

        I'm not sure "the world" made that decision. I think it is more like the people who had them decided it was a last resort, and decided that it would be good to try to keep them from people who haven't necessarily come to the same conclusion.

        • Once people got past the US-imposed secrecy on the side-effects, most of the people realized that nobody would want to take responsibility for launching another, unless it was their last resort.

          In the case of a few rare extremists, the definition of "last resort" is just a bit different from the survival (or MAD) that we picture. It's not about their physical survival but their standing in $afterlife.

          • by smaddox (928261)

            Yeah, luckily the Norse religion died out ages ago, or else we'd have everyone launching nukes, trying to secure their place in Valhalla.

      • Drones, on the other hand, are dreamt as a clean way to "do business", and highly likely to get used more and by everybody.

        I don't think that many think of it as "clean", so much as they may think of it as "cheap". Instead of strapping a buttload of explosives to one's chest, you strap them to a remote-controlled device, and...

        • by lxs (131946)

          Are you saying that in the Afterlife drones are transformed into dildos to be shared among 72 virgins?
          You just blew my mind.

    • by khasim (1285)

      About the only way they are the same is the same way every new military technology is the same.

      Should we incorporate it into our military or should we attempt to outlaw its use in war?

      And we don't seem to be in a hurry to stop using drones. That answers that question. And if we aren't going to stop using them then why would any other nation or group?

      So not only is the premise of TFA flawed as you've pointed out, the only "similar" issue has already been answered.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      The Tank, when it was invented, was thought to be such a terrifying weapon that it might end all war for fear of utter devistation. It was even named a tank to disguise why all this metal was being shipped... under the guise of building water tanks.

    • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:57PM (#45496343)

      Nuclear weapons had a stabilizing and centralizing tendency [orwell.ru] for governments, due to the great expense involved and the infrastructure needed to create them. As drone are developed and become more effective, governments like that in the U.S. may find their monopoly on force undermined.

      I would have careful restrictions placed on drone use, equal or exceeding those already on other technologies (aircraft, etc.). A great risk remains that they'll be used to expand government power. But occasionally I wonder whether the drone might not represent revolutionary potential like the flintlock musket once did.

      • How many years did flintlocks exist before there was a revolution? They were invented in 1610, after all.

        As for drones potential to expand government power, how?

        The government always had the power to kill people it didn't like. War, the death penalty, skirmishes technically not wars, etc. give it the legal power to kill people. Planes give the US Government the power to do this to anyone anywhere back in the days of the Doolittle Raid.

        Drones increase the government's accuracy by a significant amount, but ac

        • How many years did flintlocks exist before there was a revolution? They were invented in 1610, after all.

          Per the article cited, I actually had in mind the flintlock rifle, although Orwell is somewhat sloppy in his application of the term rifle. In any case, there is no lack of revolution in the 17th century, glorious and otherwise.

          As for drones potential to expand government power, how?

          Cheaper surveillance means many of the practical constraints our would-be lords and masters might face fall away. The sam

          • The government always had the power to kill people it didn't like. War, the death penalty, skirmishes technically not wars, etc. give it the legal power to kill people. Planes give the US Government the power to do this to anyone anywhere back in the days of the Doolittle Raid.

            This seems somewhat confused. Government does not always have the legal authority to kill anyone it likes. Sometimes, however, it pretends it does and new technology often allows a sort of sleight of hand. Thus we end up with our illegal involvement in wars in Libya and Yemen, with the government claiming that it isn't war since no human being is inside the drones and cruise missiles piloting them.

            Strict Constitutional Constructionists frequently miss a couple points:

            1) The entire point of the Constitution is it's not supposed to be clear. If it was clear the various branches would spend all their time tending to the bits of the government they clearly controlled, rather then arguing with each-other. Which, to the Founders, meant they'd all be tyrannical. The fact that it's clear to you isn't proof that it's actually clear, anymore then the Pope's certainty he is the Vicar of Christ is proof that all

            • > If the US tried to cheat there'd be a guy whose job was to stop the cheating, he'd have real powers over people
              > within these United States, and the President and Congress wouldn't be able to dodge him.

              In what fantasy universe does this hypothetical enforcement agent with the authority to force the United States to do anything exist?

              It's not constitutionally POSSIBLE for the federal government to grant that kind of direct authority to any foreign entity.

              Moreover, the Supreme Court has overwhelmingly

  • This is crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:30PM (#45496079)

    They're no different than any other airplanes. If other countries decide to use them outside their borders, and threaten U.S. interests, the U.S. can "counsel restraint" in it's usual manner: with bombs.

    • by fisted (2295862)

      They're no different than any other airplanes. If other countries decide to use them outside their borders, and threaten U.S. interests, the U.S. can "counsel restraint" in it's usual manner: with drones.

      FTFY

  • by hsmith (818216) on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:37PM (#45496131)

    the United States will hardly be in a position to condemn them or counsel restraint

    Like the United States gives a crap. The US will protest if any other country does it, as we are spoiled children who think we can do as we please.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Friday November 22, 2013 @07:05PM (#45496409) Homepage

      It's now basically open season on the US. Don't complain when Pakistani drones blow up a wedding trying to murder some suspected terrorists.

      Seriously, the US has managed to make an American's life worthless in the eyes of much of the world because that's how the US treats everyone else.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Don't complain when Pakistani drones blow up a wedding trying to murder some suspected terrorists.

        It'd be interesting to see the reaction to something like that happening. I mean, it's considered acceptable for the US (by the US politicians) to do that in Pakistan, so I am interested to see what happens when a reverse event happens.

        I am sure US politicians will understand the need to combat terrorism and suffer collateral damage as a result.

      • The thing is at the moment the US has a pretty irresistibly superior military. If Pakistan tried to send a drone in to the US to strike something, it would almost certainly get splashed before it was over land. The PAVE PAWS radar system watches for inbound craft from basically anywhere for a thousand miles or more. The US then has the USAF and ANG which have lots of modern planes to intercept and destroy it. Further it has carrier battle groups capable of swift and powerful retaliation.

        So no, a country lik

        • The thing is at the moment the US has a pretty irresistibly superior military. If Pakistan tried to send a drone in to the US to strike something, it would almost certainly get splashed before it was over land. The PAVE PAWS radar system watches for inbound craft from basically anywhere for a thousand miles or more.

          Recently US servicemen were killed when a practice drone crashed into their ship, a ship that was set up to shoot down these drones.

          So no.

    • by myowntrueself (607117) on Saturday November 23, 2013 @12:17AM (#45498333)

      The people of the USA are remarkably squeamish about their own people going to other countries and getting killed while fighting a war, possibly more squeamish than most other nations.

      Therefore it is massively in the interests of the government of the USA to be able to wage war in other countries without risking the lives of their service men and women.

      The problem then becomes, for the people on who war is being waged, how to deal with this. Possibly the best solution is to take the killing to the American people, in their homeland.

      Interestingly the American people, so cowardly that they can only use remote controlled weapons to wage war, then call the men and women who give their lives to fight, who go out knowing they will die, the suicide bombers, cowards.

      WTF?

  • Dropping the atomic bomb on civilian populations in 1945 didn't stop the USA from leading the world toward outlawing "nuclear proliferation" decades later; why should this issue be handled differently?

    • Dropping the atomic bomb on civilian populations in 1945 didn't stop the USA from leading the world toward outlawing "nuclear proliferation" decades later; why should this issue be handled differently?

      Lead time - how long was the timespan between developing the nuke and firing up all those non-proliferation treaties? A couple decades?

      This time, we have the chance to nip a tyrannical tool in the bud* before it becomes an issue.

      * My preferred method? Open-source everything, so that any jackass with $50 and some free time can build themselves an automated, airborne weapons platform. We'll level the playing field manually, with ordnance :)

    • It might be nice to avoid the buildup of tens of thousands of weaponized drones on multiple "sides" before making the decision that "drones are bad".
    • Dropping the atomic bomb on civilian populations in 1945 didn't stop the USA from leading the world toward outlawing "nuclear proliferation" decades later; why should this issue be handled differently?

      Bertrand Russel, later a famous antinuclear protester and leading member of CND, advocated a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. It was only when the SU developed their own nukes that Russel changed his stance on this; to him it was just a simple matter of game theory.

      • Thank you. It's not game theory to me so much as history. As Twain may have said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."

        But if game theory worked for Russell, who am I to argue?

  • Drones will be a great defensive tool. For a few million dollars you could (or will be able to ) deploy a large swarm of drones that can disable or destroy naval targets costing orders of magnitude more than your drone force. That's great news for the countries that have no real need for a navy.

    For offense, well, they make great flying bombs. Not everyone needs a predator drone that can be flown over and over. Sometimes all you need a a swarm of delivery agents that can come at a target from multiple direct

    • flying bombs are called cruise missiles, they've been around for ages and they aren't cheap. naval targets tend to be pretty well defended against these sort of things.

      • Depends how close the ships get. If it's an amphibious invasion (ie: some of them actually have to land onshore) it would be trivial for a country the size of Iran to hire a couple thousand drone jockeys, and create a bunch of drones with enough of a payload to seriously inconvenience a landing craft, and then just throw drones at said landing craft 24/7. Eventually somebody's defense get saturated and the Navy has a problem. Their anti-aircraft guns run out of ammo, their electronic warfare officer faints

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        flying bombs are called cruise missiles, they've been around for ages and they aren't cheap.

        If you need a cruise missile that can fly through a meter square window after flying 1,500 miles, sure, they aren't cheap. But the only thing stopping a hobbyist from turning a model rocket into a cruise missile besides being sensible enough to want to avoid visits from the men in black is that the GPS units refuse to play that game.

    • For a few million dollars you could (or will be able to ) deploy a large swarm of drones that can disable or destroy naval targets costing orders of magnitude more than your drone force.

      People who don't know any better have been saying this (for the equivalent weapons of the period) for the past century.

      Hasn't worked out that way yet, and it's unlikely that it'll work out that way in the future.

    • For offense, well, they make great flying bombs. Not everyone needs a predator drone that can be flown over and over. Sometimes all you need a a swarm of delivery agents that can come at a target from multiple directions...in waves, autonomously.

      Their called cruise missiles.

  • Ok well. Comparing a drone to a nuclear bomb, because drones are in the news, is like comparing a car accident to a train wreck. Land mines are probably the most controversial small-kill technology. The main difference is that drones are an incredibly expensive and complex way to kill a dozen people, as compared to, say, goons with machetes.
    • No, it's like comparing a car accident to all cars in the entire city having an accident all at once.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The main difference is that drones are an incredibly expensive and complex way to kill a dozen people, as compared to, say, goons with machetes.

      Drones do not yet compete with goons with machetes, but that day will come sooner that you like. However, they are highly competitive with actual trained soldiers already. And if you just throw any and all ethics over the shoulder and go ahead and use chemical weapons and so on, one teensy tiny little plastic piece of shit can kill a whole bunch of people.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Friday November 22, 2013 @06:48PM (#45496241)

    Drones are similar to nuclear bombs in the same way spring showers are similar to class 5 hurricanes.

    One thing they miss it that proliferation has already happened. While most countries have not used drones, many, if not most, advanced militarizes have them or are developing them.

    • Is to switch to having a "box" of B-52s long stick the area instead of having a drone fire a couple of hellfires at the specific house or vehicle.

      A few of those and maybe then the bleeding hearts would quit complaining about the drone strikes. Ditto for any compaints about the miniscule collateral damage from the drone strike.

      Cheers,
      Dave

  • If they are an enemy, you use all the tools you have available to eradicate them.

    • The problem is that the people of all the worlds countries are not enemies of each other. It's strange then that the governments would make each other enemies. Whom are they fighting? Enemies? Or the perception that they are not needed anywhere but at home, and even then, not so much.

    • Welcome change (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'll take these low level (at least as far as the US is concerned) conflicts in the Middle East over the massive wars of the 20th century any day. In fact despite the huge increases in population, the death total in the Middle East is quite low compared to that of the Crusades and of the Roman/Greek eras This, of course, is of slight comfort to those harmed but to to me it is a sign of hope rather than despair..

    • by Artifakt (700173)

      If they are an enemy, you use all the tools you have available to eradicate them.

      You use the tools you need to win. If you set the goal in war as eradication instead of victory, you have just said the enemy cannot even be allowed to surrender, the war ends only in genocide, and it becomes the most logical thing for the enemy who has heard this from you to do, to fight to the very last possible combatant.

           

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not surprise the UN is interested when the president of the United States goes around bragging about how many people he's droned -- including his own people, without trial. [huffingtonpost.com]

  • How many years (or months) will it be before some splinter group hits a U.S. political delegation with a drone strike somewhere outside the U.S.? They will see no reason not to do this.
    • How many years (or months) will it be before some splinter group hits a U.S. political delegation with a drone strike somewhere outside the U.S.? They will see no reason not to do this.

      It'll be awhile.

      To have drone tech you need aircraft tech, and most splinter groups don't have aircraft. The ones that do (aka: Hezbollah) got their aircraft from countries, and those countries do not want to give us a reason to level them.

      Now if you mean a cheap RC chopper with a gun attached to an improvised hardpoint steered by camera, they could manage that. The trick would be getting a vehicle that small to stay stable when it's dealing with recoil.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      If they could, they would do it anyway. Surely you don't think otherwise?

      Do you really believe that a group would say "Hey, we want to kill these Americans, and we've got drones to do it with, but the Americans haven't used drones lately, so we'll just stick with pistols"?

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Friday November 22, 2013 @07:02PM (#45496383) Journal

    The US Government will never place restrictions on its use of drones against the American People. Never.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      ... except there already are restrictions in place. Just because you're unaware of them, haven't bothered to get any facts and just run off with your ignorance spouting stupid shit at the top of your lungs doesn't mean its actually true.

  • A flying arrow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Friday November 22, 2013 @07:04PM (#45496403) Homepage

    There are some ethical concerns once proliferation increases, including accountability and plausible deniability on the part of bad actors (possibly including ourselves). Still, this issue is much more closely related to small arms than WMDs like nukes. One nuke can kill millions and potentially injure millions more. It's difficult to imagine a scenario -- especially one unique to drones -- where the same could be true of one drone carrying conventional weapons. For the most part, I expect that drones will continue to be used mainly in scenarios where a cruise missile or other air strike might have been used in the past. As a species, we've been killing remotely since the first bow was used in combat. So a few thousand years now. Drones are just the latest way to keep far enough away from the enemy that he can't quickly and easily hit back, which is sort of the point of using a weapon.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      The real issue is that drones like nukes where going to be developed. Once you reach a certain level in physics you know how an atomic bomb can work. Once you reach a certain level in computers a drone becomes possible. The simple truth is that a drone is just a cruise missile that drops the bomb and flies home to land.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Friday November 22, 2013 @07:17PM (#45496523)

    Fighting for your country has important implications that must not be overlooked. A human piloting a machine is not at risk of death. If you don't have to risk your life to deal death then it's easier to do the killing. Furthermore, requiring people to fight people in war directly increases the cost of life to the side that would win. This ensures that war's price can not be ignored by indirect killing. The deaths are tragic and cause people on both sides to cry out for peaceful resolution rather than merciless death. Finally, if people are required to fight a war, then you can not fight a war the people will not fight themselves...

    Dark times are dangerously near. The second amendment was never properly interpreted to mean what it should: The right to bear technology. IMO, only manned drones are acceptable. [jetman.com]

    • by turp182 (1020263) on Friday November 22, 2013 @07:56PM (#45496843) Journal

      This has always been one of my qualms with the weaponized drones. No potential loss of life on the part of the attacker. Without this a conflict is not a war, it is pure oppression. By design it cannot be won, only dominated.

      In my mind's eye I see a Terminator style war, except with US robots controlled by humans running the show. We don't need an AI.

    • It's been a long time since the ones doing the killing were the ones who decided who to kill. That bridge was passed a long time ago........
  • The Markov State:
    State where the Ricin is admiited not by Umbrella but by Drone.
    Also see: Terror State.

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Friday November 22, 2013 @07:21PM (#45496565)
    Drones are not as complicated to make as nuclear weapons. Weaponizing drones only slightly more complicated - it' a technology even "lesser" or "backwards" countries will have perfected in a manner of a few short years, and you can bet everyone is working on it right now. There will be no stabilizing standoff. With or without ground based battle robots, it's really starting to look like we will bring about our extinction with armed and physically agile computers with orders to kill. Courtesy of the drone that got lost and made the decision to land itself on a road in Iran, we already know they can act without a human pilot. Once we have successfully committed ourselves to the death of every last human by piloted and autonomous robots - I wonder what the robots will do when there are no humans left to kill. Perhaps by the time we reach that point their decision making will be advanced enough that they can decide to work together and evolve. I wonder if they will remember us in their history. I wonder if they will be grateful for the human folly of creating them.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The drone is really like a post ww2 infantry weapon. A lot of cheap/expensive power in the hands of one contractor.
      The real new option is a political 'ok' to be seen for the double tap strike to kill rescue workers.
      Later autonomous loitering with a command to go after anything moving in an area will be an option.
      Drones really allow govs to explore what the UK did during later parts of the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Boer_War#British_response [wikipedia.org]
      A "blockhouse" system with drones to divide up a cou
  • I'm surprised this meme hasn't been brought up yet, however add AI and weapons to drones...
  • Dystopia (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A dystopian society is about the loss of control, of people who are disempowered. We have already seen market forces which were supposed to serve people subverted easily to serve a minority in a step back to the old feudal societies they were a solution to. Profit was a means not the end.

    With concentration of economic power, resources are not devoted to what people and communities need or want but what oligarchs will profit from, forced down, and this self serving, self sustaining cycle eventually delivers

  • by Bruha (412869) on Friday November 22, 2013 @08:22PM (#45497055) Homepage Journal

    Drones and robotic soldiers are very dangerous. A government could order human soldiers to shoot their fellow countrymen and they would likely rebel. Robot soldiers have no conscious and will carry out those orders.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re A government could order human soldiers to shoot their fellow countrymen and they would likely rebel.
      East Germany was really the wake up for many govs on that. You had special forces with ammo and trucks/small tanks waiting to clear the streets.
      At a political and military command level orders where given and nothing much happened. Slow, countermanded, ignored, lost...
      How would a modern government find its special 'troops' who will always obey in any domestic situation?
      You test them in local law
      • How does the drone pilot really know where his drone is? He has a readout on the screen telling him its East Buttfuckistan and happily kills the terrorists who are wearing civilian clothes. Maybe they look european and he is told they are chechens who have joined this al qaida group.

        Meanwhile his handlers have spoofed his readouts and actually this is South Dakota and he is killing American 'patriots'.

        Drone warfare is easy to turn around and use on your own people without the drone operators even knowing wh

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          That would make a great sci fi book, short movie or movie plot. A clean war where every frame is re rendered back to a contractor at a base in the UK or US.
          They sleep well at night as every double tap drone strake is 'clean'.
          The only real aspect is flight control and targets, everything else is real time art work.
          Medals and pay, with all the strikes been reported as domestic ground war efforts.
          The classic are we over Laos and Cambodia from a past war :)
    • Drones and robotic soldiers are very dangerous. A government could order human soldiers to shoot their fellow countrymen and they would likely rebel. Robot soldiers have no conscious and will carry out those orders.

      Judging from the behavior of soldiers in the field, conscience is a small small problem. Soldiers are conditioned to kill without thinking. Rape has always been a part of war.

      Soldiers are basically trained, conditioned, brainwashed serial killers.

  • Ignorance (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Friday November 22, 2013 @09:01PM (#45497311) Homepage

    "If they decide to use their own drones outside the boundaries of international law against people they brand “terrorists,” the United States will hardly be in a position to condemn them or counsel restraint."

    Every drone strike that the US has ever executed was approved by the government of the country involved. There have been no violations of international law.

    As long as Russia or China follows the same policy, the US would have no objection.

  • by dk20 (914954) on Friday November 22, 2013 @09:08PM (#45497333)
    Does that man all future presidents will start talking about the "drone gap", and how the US needs to double the defence budget to keep up and maintain its superiority?

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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