Sunday, October 09, 2011

Even Drones Can Fly Away

So: if the United States claims the right to use robotic attack drones to kill American citizens in foreign countries, does that mean we’ll say nothing when China inevitably uses drones to kill dissidents who have gone into exile?

As an American patriot, I suppose I should be outraged upon learning some unknown enemy infected the military’s robotic kill-drone fleet with a computer virus. Instead, I’m disappointed the virus wasn’t worse; if the drones won’t boomerang back to attack their operators, I’d at least like them to explode harmlessly over unpopulated areas. A mere keylogging virus isn't enough to make the government back down from using them.

Once upon a time, I would’ve opposed the use of war robots on the grounds that robots cannot tell the difference between (for example) an armed fighter and an unarmed civilian. But the human soldiers we have over there don’t bother telling the difference either, so it would be hypocrisy for me to oppose robots on such grounds. Instead, I oppose them because they’ll result in the US getting involved in even more foreign wars than the variety pack we’re fighting already.

In all my life there hasn’t been a day when the US wasn’t fighting some war or other, declared or undeclared, because the government thinks “Why not go to war? We can hurt the hell out of them, and they can’t even touch us,” and war stopped being the option of last resort and became the status quo.

On the other hand, if I take a long-run view of things, I should support the military’s use of drones because inevitably, once they perfect the technology, our rivals will copy it in short order. When I see the first drones flying over my neighborhood, will they belong to my government, or some other?

Foolish question; they’ll be our drones, of course, after local police departments across the country add them to their ever-expanding repertoire of military hardware for use against citizens. (No wonder they call us civilians now.)

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