Popular Science cover story this month is about drones.  25 reasons to love them, and 5 reasons to fear them.  As you might guess, it’s pretty shallow, but still covers a lot of the important points.

The reasons to love and reasons to fear seem to me to all have flip sides.  It’s like that interview, what are your strengths and weaknesses?  Everyone knows by now that the correct answers to those questions are the same thing.  That is, hey, I’m persistent, but sometimes that comes across as obstinate.  Or I have great attention to detail, but sometimes I can get too caught up in the minutia.  With drones, the main ones that have big plus and negative, I think, are:

  1. Jobs.  Sure there will be jobs designing, building, programming, maintaining, and repairing drones.  And to some extent piloting.  But the flip side is, all those delivery guys who lose their jobs.  And if you count automated cars and trucks, which the PopSci article does, that’s a crap ton of jobs that are going away.
  2. “they can save lives in combat zones.”  Tell that to the Pakistani people.  Or the Yemenis.  To be fair, number one of the five reasons to fear was “global warfare” and the #2 was “blowback,” the reaction of the people who live where we use drones to kill.
  3. The potential of private individuals to observe whatever they want.  The PopSci list includes a lot of examples of this, oddly listing several of them as different reasons.  They are really all the same reason.  And of course the flip side is loss of privacy, which I would list closer to the top of things to fear.  Not that global warfare isn’t terrifying, just that I think having your ex send over a drone to monitor your activities will be a lot more pressing of a problem for a lot of Americans.  Monitoring of demonstrations could be either positive or negative, depending on who controlled the feed.
  4. The potential of groups or corporations to observe whatever they want.  Imagine the chilling impact of the live feed from the front door of the abortion clinic.  Or the drone checking out who is going into the strip club.  One man has a Kickstarter going to monitor large factory farm operations.  Animal rights groups have already been using drones to watch live hunts (this might be considered good or bad, depending on your view of the topic).  But what about a group of pedophiles sharing footage of a playground or beach?  Creepy.  And what about google and FB not being evil while identifying your face everywhere you go?  Try this on for size, a mask of someone else’s face.

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