Morton Bast

editorial coordinator, TED


This conversation is closed.

Which application of drones excites or terrifies you the most?

We're dedicating this week on to the buzz about autonomous drones, with their tremendous power to assist us and their entirely lethal power to harm us.

Throughout Drone Week, we're hoping to give a nuanced picture of the current state of intelligent machines. Looking to experts in the field for their hopes and fears, as well as their hard data, we're taking a look at what the future may bring.

We're also asking the broader TED Community to weigh in. Are drones on your mind? In what capacity? Are you more excited about their research and rescue capabilities or more terrified by their potential for strikes and surveillance? What about drones has truly sparked your imagination?

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    Nov 20 2013: Technology does not seem to impress me any more. Especially, technology used to kill people.

    I think, drones used to "fight terrorism" created more terrorists than they killed. I'm concerned not about the lethal capability of the drones, but about the effect they have on global society.
    • Nov 20 2013: All technology has been used to kill people.
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        Nov 21 2013: Bryan, That speaks more about the people than the technology. The bow was just as good at downing a deer for food and survival as it was for the quest for wealth, land, and power. I can use the knife to cleave the meat from the bone or to take the life of a person .... etc.

        Technology is neither good or bad least we make it so. Bob.
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      Nov 20 2013: I definitely agree. I myself don't understand the logic behind how we have been using drones to "fight terrorism." As if the military operations on the ground were not enough, it appears that we are innovating new ways of fueling hatred, and creating more reasons for individuals to match violence with violence.

      Don't get me wrong, I definitely can see that there are great ways for drone technology to be applied. However, I definitely don't think that weaponizing this technology is a significant benefit.
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        Nov 21 2013: “Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.”

        ― Noam Chomsky

        I don't see how assassinating people with drones in foreign countries potentially causing the "collateral" deaths of civilians is, in principle, different from flying airplanes into buildings.
        • Nov 21 2013: And this means that we should not use drones to monitor ecologically sensitive areas, do civilian search-and-rescue by legitimate police/safety organizations, etc?
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          Nov 21 2013: It is interesting that Noam makes this quote since he was raised Jewish. So the Allied Forces should never have questioned the Nazi reign of terror on the ethnic groups of Europe.

          One of the most shallow and insensitive comments ever ..... I know Noam is the hero of the liberal and atheist following .... but this cannot even defended.

          Disgusting .....
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        Nov 21 2013: @ Brian re: "And this means that we should not use drones to monitor ecologically sensitive areas, do civilian search-and-rescue by legitimate police/safety organizations, etc?"

        Not sure how this follows from my comment. What I said means that we should not use drones or any other technology to kill people. I'm not against technology. I'm against killing people.
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        Nov 21 2013: @ Robert Re: "So the Allied Forces should never have questioned the Nazi reign of terror on the ethnic groups of Europe. One of the most shallow and insensitive comments ever ..... I know Noam is the hero of the liberal and atheist following .... but this cannot even defended."

        Well, I myself struggle with the concept of "turning the other cheek" and "loving the enemy". Who doesn't? I still believe that there is hidden wisdom in these concepts. "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind". I like Gandhi's and MLK's philosophy of non-violent resistance to evil better than the approach of Malcolm X who advised "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery."

        Of course, we can take things to extreme and consider examples of Hitler, Assad, or the Sandy Hook shooter. There is also saying "the ends justify the means".

        I think, blanket statements on this issue cannot be made. Each case needs specific consideration. There are cases when I would approve the use of drones to kill a person, e.g. to kill terrorists on the scene of the terrorist act to save people like in the Kenyan mall massacre or the recent rebelion in Algeria. But the morality of routine use of drones to assassinate people from "Desposition Matrix" list ( in cold blood is highly questionable to me.
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        Nov 21 2013: @ Brian & Robert.

        Let me be specific. I disapprove routine using of drones for cold-blooded premeditated assassination of people in non-emergency situations. You can establish the context of these statements from these articles

        Let's not mix other contexts into what I said - fighting violent regimes, civillian rescue operations, fixing deep-water oil spills and flaming nuclear reactors, or hostage situations.

        I would note that technology is irrelevant in this discussion. It does not matter whether we use a kitchen knife to slit throats or use sophisticated multi-million dollar equipment to kill people in an air strike. This is what I meant in my original post that "I'm not impressed with technology used to kill people." Perhaps, I should rephrase a little, "I'm not impressed with technology WHEN it is used to kill people."

        Oh, boy... Why is it so hard for people to understand each other? The more we say, the more confused we are. Saying less does not help either. Silence is golden. I think, I should not have raised this topic at all.
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    Nov 28 2013: -
    This question make me recall an episode of The Good Wife .
    It's a case about a woman used a drone to kill the taget in Arab area , perhaps . However there were some innocent people around the car(the enemy ,target is the car) ,not only a few adults but children.
    The soldier , female was been accused of 12 murders .
    We both know these damage are inescapable during the war , and the true reason for the charge is the female soldier , her colleague want to replace her , again sexism ,gender discrimination.
    Though after a battle of arguing in the military court, the woman was still convicted in original charge .

    This may not be a real event .but, Well, what I'm concerned with this is we have a lot of different electronic equipments today , we can use them to commit a crime ,or we can use them to crime some people with unwarranted reason .

    We all know that we have already , in a non-secret society , I mean in a larger perception ,not a relationship in personal .
    For government ,they can gather anything whatever, whenever they want . We all be recorded in data from server.
    You can say I'm a radical person in this question and I'm too pessimistic about cyber security .
    Nevertheless , I believe that is the truth .
    You can see the influsce of Snowden leaking the "information " , I don't judge the property of this behavior .
    I just want to say information will become more cheap but important in the future ,it will become easier to get , but vital in any aspect .

    So what I afraid is these kind of data how to be use , I'm not afraid of how to be recorded because this worry is useless , science will not stop booming cause it genertate damage , the only way we can use its the law and the better use in technology .

    There was a sentence in Chinese :欲加之罪 何患无辞。
    means : if you want to condemn somebody , you can always find out a charge .
    And the "drones "make the finding easier .
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    • Nov 20 2013: Thank you Mark. All life is reflected through each heart, each pool of consciousness. As Ghandi put it, we must BE that which we want to see in the world. That is always the bottom line, and you are right, can be terrifying, but also liberating.

      I wonder about how to use modern toys to expand interest and support for this very process of turning the attention to self/relation to whole... without trappings of any particular traditions, ... do you have thoughts on how to encourage more self-reflection towards personal responsibility in regards to larger issues and conditions?
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        • Nov 20 2013: yep, living paradox. I was not actually asking you or anyone else to tell me or anybody else anything about what to do-aakk! I agree completely with everything you have said about personal responsibility (sorry, language choices give wrong impression, did not mean "larger" to imply more important at all-just different reference point... and "encourage" a poor choice as well... "support a choice" perhaps).

          I have argued myself silly with this existential argument of 'what is the point of action in the world, people/I just keep doin- but part of our collective vision and evolution seems to entail, require(?) journey in form, this community of interactions/choices/consequences/learning- in which each of us are both uniquely singular/inextricably connected as part of the Whole. While taking responsibility is a 100% inside job, learning to do so involves our involvement in the game we have created. While Ghandi practiced his own inner game, he also modeled his insights and practices in "outer work" to support a Peace movement, stand up against poverty, etc- would you say his "outer" works were wasted activity? I'm very aware that in Truth, we ARE doing exactly what we want, but learning to take that information into our own inner sanctum of taking responsibility, making different choices, is a journey, and as anyone's evolutionary interests awaken, whether it begin by being focused on 'outer' or 'inner', i'm just saying we do support/influence each other in that inquiry, and how new tech could be utilized in new creative ways to that end was my question.

          If we did not want to/were not meant to interact through form for our own liberation, I don't think we'd be here doing that. After all, you are here sharing your views- to what end, if you believe this to be of no import? Clearly not to coerce, but what about shining Light into a corner someone else looking cannot see yet, except for you sharing/modeling your experience in some way? no expectations attached!
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    Nov 18 2013: Just like all the technologies -new or old- it depends on the man. Drones can let drop bombs on you, but also are capable to carry a lifebelt for a person who is drowning into a tempest sea and nobody dares to swim for help. If we use them for evil or for good, it's our choice.
    We, humans, have plenty of technologies for killing, so, I prefer to watch the good ones: fire surveillance, help to people in trouble, watching properties or security uses, and so on.
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    Nov 30 2013: The voting drones are terrifying
  • Nov 30 2013: I think a safe use of drone technology is Local News Departments. Think of Los Angeles car chases being followed by drones. Or reporters, at the news desk while a remote viewing drone is circling the job site accident, car accident, depleted lakes caused by drought, train wrecks, burning buildings etc. Real estate is another non lethal use, million dollar properties or large ranges. Oil companies in the shale plays are probably the first adopters to monitor wells and environmental damage. State governments will use them to plan highway construction or repair. Fleets can use them when accidents happen to be first on scene as well as police and fire. Imagine the fire department in your city at first 911 call dispatches a drone, the crew gets real time assessments in route. etc
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    Nov 23 2013: What took FedEx Freight 5 days to do (ship a 300 lb snow sweeper from Eugene, Oregon to my door step in Swan River, Manitoba) which was fast in the developed world, now imagine doing it in hours with a 'Matternet' of drones in the future anywhere in the world ...
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    Nov 23 2013: this is just another face of the science and technology that will save us, if we are to be saved, despite our politicians and business interests. But, there will be a dark side - business abuse, military abuse, multiple unintended consequences. Imagine a gigantic swarm of self-replicating rapidly learning micro-drones with distributed AI, given a mission. But what mission? This, along with many other technologies, most advancing at an accelerating pace, makes me think that it is plausible the world will spin completely out of control...
  • Nov 22 2013: I believe it was put best in Michael Crichton's book about technology being used without any sort of disclipline being necessary. These drones will be used for nefarious purposes, history has taught us that. While we in the U.S. tend to think that our "leaders" would never do that, we are being naive. I forsee a world where you are watched from the moment you leave your house, a very scary thought.
  • Nov 20 2013: Drones excite Americans but terrify the innocent villagers living in their homeland and are targeted so bluntly.
    • Nov 20 2013: I did not know that a petroleum spill in an ecologically sensitive area in the Gulf of Mexico was "innocent villagers". Silly me! I thought it was pollution.
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    Gord G

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    Nov 20 2013: Party drones terrify me. They'll corner you by the guacamole dip and drone on about the minutiae of a Jersey Shore episode.

    Military drones could be exciting. Everyone stays home and the drones destroy each other.
    • Nov 20 2013: That is now how military drones would work. Drones would not target each other except incidentally. Drones would target humans. Bombers in WWII did not concentrate on bombing other bombers.
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        Gord G

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        Nov 20 2013: I debated putting a smile after my comment, but I thought the previous comment made it clear my comments were satirical.

        Unfortunately, war isn't war until people die (whether it's by a stone club or a drone).
  • Nov 18 2013: Drones are another wonderful tech toy development, for sure. The possibilities for use? Likely endless, certainly a full range of positive or negative. As others have already pointed out, use always depends on the user. A lot of humans, certainly most governments, still seems bent on maintaining fear and judgement of one another... confrontation, trying to control others for ones own agenda of control, power, greed often masked as defense, or spreading democracy or the "faith". In the hands of "super-powers" with super egos and super financing... extraordinarily dangerous, completely lacking in ethics, compassion. Their expanding behaviors leave me ashamed and deeply saddened. But in the hands of people wanting to track the health patterns of the planet in very explicit ways, this is remarkable. For all the positive potentials, drones can be a remarkable, positive tool. I believe, as with all tech developments, their use will depend on humans becoming remarkable at loving life enough to stop fearing and killing it. If we continue to behave as a bad virus, then more technology will only hasten our illness.
  • Nov 18 2013: Drones are being tested on the Gulf Coast of Texas for tracking oil spills and surveying ecologically sensitive areas. They can cover a lot of territory and get as low as they need to get. They only have to be recalled to refuel or maintain. In theory, they can run around the clock because changing the crew doesn't require recalling the drone. They do have valid peaceful use.
  • Nov 18 2013: This is a great conversation because I believe drones are a double edged sword. In some instances they can be used for extreme good, such as delivering medical supplies to areas that are difficult to access otherwise e.g. war torn countries. On the opposite end of the spectrum they could be devastating to society. Drones offer people the power without risk, which gives them a God like sense of power. With good will always come bad, but in this case does the good out way the bad or vice versa? To more directly answer the question, I think the use of drones for good excites me beyond belief, but the thought of this technology in the hands of evil people completely terrifies me.
  • Nov 17 2013: First, drones are just a tool. Any tool can be exploited.

    I think drones could be used to monitor traffic patterns in real time. Help with weather prediction and tracking. And definitely search and rescue - especially when fitted with infra-red or high tech cameras.

    I could see them used to deliver supplies to a localized incident such as a traffic accident, natural disaster or fire.

    Drones could also be equipped with WiFi or Micro Cell technology to increase bandwidth in an emergency situation.

    I would like to have a personal drone. It would save me trips running things my kids forgot to take to school.
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    Nov 29 2013: Technology is usually at the mercy of the mind of the man using it.
    If the heart is right, the acts will be right.
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    JB E

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    Nov 28 2013: The obvious scenarios for fearing this technology like the use in war and in surveillance are going to be played out and resolved eventually. I am more interested in the uses that are far more significant and maybe less known but perhaps feared in a different way than the obvious.

    The one use that I am most enthusiastic about is the use of the technology in automating our cars and traffic. Most people don't see it but the technology is most useful in this application, by turning our cars into drone like vehicles it frees us from so much that affects us detrimentally every day. If you look at statistics of human fatalities car accidents top this list, more people die in car accidents than most care to think about and yet we still don't treat this plague at its cause. Human error accounts for this death toll and it cannot be mitigated with new laws, existing laws, seat belts or photo enforced traffic lights, people will always use poor judgement and make mistakes. However the technology is here to take all this away by augmenting vehicles with drone technology we can significantly decrease death toll, the work force in traffic enforcement time and money, as well as the time spent in rush hour commuting and loss of productivity. I even go as far to say this tech if used properly may cut carbon footprint of automotive traffic as well as cut down on congestion and air pollution in inner city s.

    With all this being said the only way is for everyone to give up a little of their freedom to control their own vehicles and to embrace the technology as a whole. It's easy to say this but I bet it's impossible to commit people to this and honestly I don't know why. We are so happy to see this scenario in futuristic sci fi movies so why not jump right in now that the technology is here? The population of our planet is forcing us to think more for the collective good than individual freedoms, the time is now to accept this fact.
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    Nov 28 2013: Drones scare me. Just a few thoughts:
    Human disconnection from reality (dropping bombs while having a cup of coffee in some container 5000 km away).
    So called 'intelligent' drones that can pick out targets without human intervention.
    That's scary stuff...

    Drones spying on evey single human being (because that seems to be the dream scenario for those who 'govern' us, and they're working hard to do just that) to me are yet another form of giving up freedom and give more control to our governments.

    I don't believe in being more safe by giving up our privacy. No privacy = No civil liberty = No freedom
    We're just giving up our freedom because our governments use scare-tactics on it's own people. They scare us, telling us by giving up our freedom, we will be free (...). People have to take responsibility to make their own environment safe.
  • Nov 26 2013: I do not fear drones at all. I have nothing to hide from the government. I think drones are excellent on the battlefield and at home. On the battlefield most importantly they save lives. At home, companies like UPS and FedEx are trying to get the FAA approval so they can use them to deliver packages. My one concern about drones is that they will take away jobs
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  • Nov 25 2013: The use of drones for war & crime worries me the most.

    What sparked my imagination about drones (after thinking of all the possibilities drones open up for persons that are disabled), was how the families & friends of persons that are disabled will have more freedom & less responsibility.
  • Nov 24 2013: I don't fear the drones nor do I fear how they might be used to hurt humanity. What I am concerned with is the failure of American Public Schools to recognize and accept drone technology. Years ago (1980's) I was a school board member. Our district was avoiding the introduction of computers to the curriculum. Sounds crazy today doesn't it? We had one board member who would not step into a classroom if it contained a computer (Apple II) He said there was no telling the damage that might be done to students who were exposed to a computer. For Kent a computer was an unknown creature. Waiting to attack our children.
    This is what I fear the most. Persons who only see technology as endangering humanity. Oh yes, that fear does exist. Our educational curriculum is based and operated on fear of the unknown future. We trust the past because we think
    we understand it. We educate for the supposed safety of history and fear what might happen to humanity if technology (drones) is allowed to flourish.
    But what must a child know and understand to just live 15 years from today? What wonderful and valuable things will be fathered by drone technology?
    Doubt me? Just read the comments on this posting. Do you see fear or hope?
  • Nov 24 2013: The ability of an enemy to use the drone to supply a bacteria-ological disease to our country. The drone being so small, it is difficult to detectand can carry a deadly message. So of a few hundred only one needs to get through.
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    Nov 24 2013: There seems to be some fear of drones. Where does it come from?

    I think, one reason is that few people understand how they work. Aren't most new technologies met by the public with the same kind of caution and fear. (Raliroad, automobiles, airplanes).

    Another reason, prehaps, is unjustified association of drones with spying, "war on terror", etc. Drones don't have to be associated with these things. They can be very useful and fun in everyday life.

    Third, perhaps, people are afraid of their own power. Humanity seems to have this lust and continuous quest for power to do things. But there is also fear that power will be misused. There is the same kind of anxiety around gun control issue.

    I think, once a technology becomes possible, no matter how dangerous, it will be created and used. There is no question about it in my mind. Instead of trying to ban a technology, it seems to be wiser to learn how to use it. This, perhaps, applies to many other things like stem research or human cloning, for example. Electromechanical devices seem far less scary to me than biochemical technology. A lot of biochemical technology is invisible and have much greater potential to get out of control.
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      Nov 28 2013: I think the dangers pretty much overweights the fun part. I agree there are other technologies than electromechanical that sound more scary, but imagine this:
      A drone, flown by artificial intelligent software, carrying dangerous biological substances. Just throw them in the mix and yet another thing to be afraid of. So then use more drones to spy on everyone, reducing even more our civil liberty aka freedom..
      I agree totally that we should technology wise, the problem is 'we' don't have access to these technologies; criminals, governments and big coorporations do.
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        Nov 28 2013: Re: "I think the dangers pretty much overweights the fun part."

        Isn't this because you focus on dangers rather than benefits? Doesn't fear that "something will go wrong" often stand in the way of trying new things and, ultimately, progress?
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          Nov 28 2013: Yes it could be i'm pessimistic here, but I try to look at it realistic at the same time. I believe the money spent on developing this technology (mainly for military purposes) can be much better spent on other technologies where, in my opinion, the fun part overweights the dangers somewhat more. I also believe that we will continue to see progress without drones.

          If the development of the nuclear bomb would have stopped, I'm sure we wouldn't have certain knowledge we have now, but at the same time a lot less tension in general (I'm guessing ;) )

          I do see a lot of positive applications in the use of drones, but sofar it seems that this particular technology is mainly being utilized in ways I'm not so comfortable with.

  • Nov 24 2013: THE SCARY PART OF DRONE



  • Nov 24 2013: My main mistrust regarding 'robotics' is that they can leave one with little privacy ...maybe 'transparency' is the way to go. Where there are fewer SECRETS in the world, we might be much better off. People will HELP each other rather than want to destroy the world and become over-powerful and over zealous.
    There are so many positives however, that perhaps, with common sense, they can be used to prevent wars and religious intolerance - they can be used to check out the problems in the world's need for conservation - best of all, right now they can be the medical help for those people who are bedridden - for the sick and needy ... I LOVE TED community ... congratulations to all directors, producers cinematographers and all those involved in these fantastic productions.
  • Nov 24 2013: I was at a security talk recently (computers, not drones) and a very interesting outlook was brought up. Privacy (in computers) is not so much about how much information you trust a company with, it is how much you trust the company. For example, the government has our social security numbers, tax information, history.. but they have checks and balances in places that we (more or less grudgingly) accept.. at least to the point where we trust them not to sell that information. A police officer can ask for our drivers license and insurance information, someone at the supermarket is allowed to see our credit card numbers (but not billing information), Amazon sees more..

    In the context of drones the biggest ongoing fear seems to be privacy from government and from each other... so in a way it seems like the fear would be best addressed with transparency and (I hate the following word) legislation. To be crude for a moment (I apologize), 'revenge porn' wen through a burst for a period of time as technology outpaced privacy and legislation, and then was brought back under control. The same thing can be done with drones. And I think one of the big things we want is the idea of being allowed to misbehave just a little (speed on the roads at night, go buy fireworks we aren't supposed to have in our state, etc), as long as we aren't hurting anyone without consent. So my fear (echoed in 1984) is that we all have to start following laws never expected / designed to be fully enforced, because suddenly we become fully visible. My greatest hope is that we step up (like we did with the Internet - NSA scandal not withstanding) and use this to protect wildlife, give vision to first responders, and yes use these in combat to spare the lives of troops (but fine-tune the process). Oh, and that I can have a Parrot 2, write some software, and use the camera to stage mock aerial dogfights with my friends.
  • Nov 23 2013: As many here have acknowledged, technologies themselves are politically and morally neutral, and it is only their application and our value-judgements that lend them these dimensions.
    That said, the accelerating rate of technological progress raises the stakes; delivering more and more power into the hands of those able to wield the latest tools and weapons. This, coupled with the fact that the early adopters of each new technology tend to be predominantly western military or big business interests – both of which can afford to be major research funders – tends to concentrate and reinforce power in these areas.
  • Nov 23 2013: Drones is another face of science and technology that can be used in any research field including spying on criminals. However, they must be used according to human rights norms and international laws. No one can use them indiscriminately to show superiority and to save a claimed threat.
  • Nov 23 2013: Yes I do support the Use of Drones both for intelligence and commercial use. For intelligence use, we can use them to help find criminals/wanted terrorist. Most importantly they save lives because with drones American platoons ill not have to try to take out one man. I also like how big business such as UPS or FedEx are going to plan to use drones.
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    Nov 22 2013: Hi Morton, Please, if you will, provide a summary of what your take is on Drone Week responses.

    Thanx, Bob.
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    Nov 21 2013: If we had the people in government that know how to broker deans, peace deals that is, there would be far more reason to applaud the use of technologies like drones. Bryan Maloney is right in asserting that technology is politically neutral. It is how that technology is employed that creates the problems. The Chinese were the first to use gunpowder to make pretty pictures in the sky is far more appealing to targeted observers that bullets and bombs are to their targets.

    But instead we keep putting people in office that would rather fight than find a way of resolving the differences. And that is all conflict is, differences. Just as the good or bad of a technology comes from how it is employed and, once employed as a weapon, we must always expect that weapon to be turned on us at some point.
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      Nov 22 2013: "But instead we keep putting people in office that would rather fight than find a way of resolving the differences."

      Not really, Clinton and his wife went to Canada, he never retaliated for all the bombings, who knows why ... coward, hippie, socialist, etc ... . The office of the President is political ... without a war every 20 years or so we would suffer economically and the politicians would have few ways to make contribution pay backs.

      With all of the anti war rhetoric of Obama and he never stopped anything. He put Clinton in the State Department to stop her career. She had no clue and people died for that stupidity. He put in a true Non-diplomat named Kerry who is stirring the world pot not solving anything. Obama, Kerry, and the US in general was spanked on the world stage by Putin about a month ago. We are truly a failed diplomatic nation from the top down. The news articles and world cartoons show this ... only the US sheeple still think we are not a laughing stock.

      Basically agree ... just had to comment on that section about our leaders being fighters ... just ain't true most of the time .... just party puppets ... they are just a face to the real power.

      All the best. Bob.
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        Nov 22 2013: Just look at party politics these days. Instead of negotiating and trying to finding middle grounds those in opposition spend much of their time trying to discredit and/or undermine those in power who, in turn, spend much of their time denigrating the other parties and shredding whatever gains the others made when they were in office In fact, political parties look and act like petulant siblings constantly bickering, sabotaging and picking on each other instead of trying to act like mature and responsible representatives. .

        Btw Robert, why is it you equate "never retaliated" as cowardly and other supposedly derogatory labels related to the non-violent community? Are you suggesting that there is something sinister with not wanting a fight and perhaps noble about fighting?
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          Nov 24 2013: You and I agree that politics and politicians are just there to protect their rice bowls and do little for the citizens ... and the sad part is that the rift is getting larger in both the politicians and the citizens we are more divided than I can ever recall.

          Yes I think that there is a time to fight ... during the Clinton administration there were repeated attacks on our military installations and even our naval ships. When those occur and we do nothing it is a major victory for the terrorists and their support , funding, and enlistment grow. It has been the subject of many debates as to why he did nothing to atone for the loss of lives and property. That the Clintons hate the military and paramilitary groups (security details, etc ..) and treat them with with disdain is no secret.

          No fighting is not always the answer .... But neither is enabling a bully, terrorist, or any person or group that wish to dominate or kill you.

          The opposition evaluates decision makers and the projected responses. They correctly assessed Benghazi, and both Clinton and Obama ... no response force ... no political fallout .... Cover ups and sweep it under the rug philosophy ... this happened before and will not be the last occurrence.

          This has happened only once at a Russian Embassy. Kill one of ours and we kill ten of yours .... it stopped.

          The perception is that we have weak and ineffectual leadership ... The media, parades, and political cartoons of the world show the lack of respect for our leader which they have dubbed "The Prince of Fools".

          Good men have fought and died for the right of some to be non-violent ... without them you would be speaking German and pictures of Hitler would be on the White House walls.
          Yes there is a time to fight ......... but not all things require fighting.

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Nov 24 2013: Sigh, I have heard those same tired old arguments before. In fact, it is usually the violent prone - thugs, bullies and occasionally those who feel cornered - that want to go to war. The vast majority of people would prefer to find a resolution than escalating into violence.

        Numerous times I have witnessed angry, armed, threatening and potentially violent men confronted by others that were prepared to do battle them. Thankfully there was one or more rationale person nearby who started a non-threatening dialogue with the angry guy. Only using calm discussion and non-threatening body language they eventually get the guy to first surrender the weapon and finally themselves.

        I also spent years counselling violent males and know that most are violent because they never learned self control or came from an environment where fighting is normal or both. And those that successfully changed their behaviour and environment were invariably pleased with their new found well-being. the others went back to the old ways and places.

        Politicians everywhere prefer to threaten and bluster and go to war rather than utilize rational discourse and finding middle grounds of compromise. This is the 21st century and high time we got over the petty, petulant and childish violence of our animal Nature and which is so common in all kinds of males. .

        Reason is the most powerful defence we have, if we are mature enough to use it.
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    Nov 21 2013: Like an old Saying of coin's two side, Drones too have their own perspective. And this Perspective it totally depends on the people creating it and their intentions.
    Till now what we've seen or heard, the majority is of Drones being use an a weapons, but why aren't they are more being used in a constructive way.
    I mean just think about the revolution it can bring the field of medical science, or in Construction, or in space development or in our day to day life.

    In my view only the most constructive approach of Drones are done in Space research and the most worst and fearful are in war.
    People may Justify the used of Drones in war but that totally the perspective of vision.
    my vision loves to see drone in more constructive work and much importantly in peaceful works.

    And if you say that Drones shows the power or supremacy, even in that case I'd like to follow Charlie Chaplin
    Who said " We only need power to do wrong, else Love is Enough to do right".
  • Nov 21 2013: It's a shame that the world's first widespread exposure to the drone had to fall under the auspices of military technology associated with an ambiguous and clear-objective-deprived war on terror. With all of the possible benign applications, the droid will hopefully go far in providing us with net societal benefits, but it's not the technology itself that is so disquieting.

    While we engage in this Middle Eastern Whack-A-Mole, we're essentially presenting the world with an image of an American power taking extreme and overt measures to put out fires that it can't quite stifle. We're giving the proof of our intervention to our enemies, many of whom have long sought to tie such actions to American efforts in an attempt to foster anti-American sentiment. To them, the drones are American, a clear tangible proof of our destructive presence that is undoubtedly leading to increased levels of fear. In the past, the cause of such fear may not have been manifested in a physical, observable form, but now...

    As Yoda once said:
    Fear leads to anger.
    Anger leads to hate.
    Hate... leads to suffering.
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    Nov 21 2013: A drone equipped to kill and spy is not the same as a drone equipped to monitor an environmental event. Like wise a warplane and a civilian plane, an armoured vehicle and a people carrier.
    Which one it is, has started as an idea in the mind of the designer - militaristic or civilian?
    Given the historical track record of militaristically-minded people, drones are scary (especially for those of my parents' generation who remember the doodle-bugs over London in WW2).
  • Nov 21 2013: It's interesting how so many posters are narrow minded in their replies to this question. "What applications excite or terrify you?"
    Drones can be tiny devices inside your blood stream or digestive tract, seeking out or photographing problem areas inside. They can be used to spray crops with no pilot, explore the oceans or space, etc, etc. Those uses are very exciting! As a farmer, I see applications for agriculture that are very exciting. From spraying crops with no pilot at night, viewing crops areas where yields are low or high, and yes, even viewing fields for security reasons.
  • Nov 21 2013: Drones inseminating queen honey bees excites me. Long live the european honey bee!
  • Nov 21 2013: Hmm. Another noble deed... BRITISH Petroleum in the Golf of Mexico.
    • Nov 21 2013: The drones used in the Gulf of Mexico are not owned or directed by British Petroleum. They are being used by the National Spill Control School, which is not a for-profit corporation. It is also not funded by the petroleum industry. Where are you coming up with your accusations?
  • Nov 21 2013: Fantastic work by the guys at Conservation Drones. The potential in many areas of conservation is truly exciting.
    Also have a look at the work the International Anti-Poaching Foundation is doing at
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    Gord G

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    Nov 21 2013: I think most people agree drone technology is passive, and the application of the technology depends on the morality of the society using it. In addition I think most people agree there are a multitude of uses for the technology.

    To take this thought one step further…

    How does a society guard against consequentialism when their government is using the technology in military and civil sectors? (the dropping of the A-bombs and McCarthyism are a couple of arguable examples of consequentialism)

    With crypto-anarchy on the rise, what are the potential dangers of cyber-attackers accessing a drone? (either military or civil sector drones)

    Here is a site that presents several points of view…

    I've not yet read all the material presented on the site but I thought I would provide the link. Please don't interpret the inclusion of the link as an endorsement of the information... it's just one of many sites with various perspectives. Also to clarify … I'm asking questions, not making statements.
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    Nov 20 2013: i think its about capitalism, the mafia decides what to do, united nation should work on this to make some rules to control drones, there should be laws for this.
    in any stage of growth of technology its used to test on innocent people, as they did with Atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
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      Nov 20 2013: Abdul, I think it interesting that you would associate drones (a USA device) capitalism, and the mafia into your reply.

      Perhaps you think the United Nations has more power than it really does. There is no enforcement branch and can only make resolutions to be accepted or not by member nations.

      1. Mafia: A certain type of organized crime syndicate that primarily practices protection racketeering.

      2. You state: in any stage of growth of technology its used to test on innocent people, as they did with Atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
      The Bomb dropped on Hiroshima was not a test on innocent people. President Truman stated: This war can go on for at least seven more years costing millions of lives; or ... we can drop the bomb and it will be over in days and at the cost of thousands of lives. The purpose was to end the war NOT to experiment on people.

      The question was: Which application of drones excites or terrifies you the most? My concern was more to the effect of those who control drones and their personal or political goals.

      What are your concerns?

      Thanks for your reply. Bob.
    • Nov 21 2013: I see little to no different between "the mafia" and the United Nations. Asking one to look into the other is like hiring a wolf to keep foxes away from your chickens.
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        Nov 21 2013: Other than a active enforcement branch ... not much. The resolutions are non-binding but people like our former Sec of State Hilary Clinton did sign the USA up for the elimination of small arms and Article 21. The rural sustainability act in the US is quietly imposing the socialist ideals of the party. while on the national front openly Obamacare is well on the way to National Health Care. From the beginning there was always the intention of a single provider. Entitlements are swamping our distressed budget which is on the brink of a recession and a depression.

        Ah yes but I have left the drones question .... yet again. It is very hard to separate politics from any of these issues.
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    Nov 19 2013: They(USA Gov./CIA) are using them to kill innocent kids in political wars and then they lie about it.

    But as many people have stated below they are mere tools, but if the mind which is using them is evil... you can't blame the technology.

    Then of course we can use the technology to help people in need. For example, right now to find survivors in Philippines
  • Nov 19 2013: I think the only fear to fear is.........Politicians.......supported by the Military Industrial Complex.....which I believe means all of em.
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    Nov 19 2013: Love em or hate em, drones are here and they are cheap.
    I would be excited if drones marked the point in time that everyone stopped caring about who is watching them. Is it possible for everyone to get past the fact that all actions outdoors are no longer private?
    If a drone was hovering over me when I woke up one day, that would terrify me.
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        Nov 20 2013: In the biking video, what amazes me is people, not the technology. I will believe in artificial intelligence when they create a robot to ride a bike like this... and would, actually, come up with this crazy idea on its own.
        • Nov 20 2013: but if it weren't for the technology, you would not see the people in action in this way to be impressed by...
      • Nov 20 2013: Thanks for the video link to your work, Keith! For me, this is one of the best use of drones... creative views into places otherwise inaccessible, or too expensive..... these shots in the past required an actual helicopter with pilot, yes? Now with high tech cams in small packages, cheap drones.... access is going to explode. Both good and bad to this, humans after all, of course...

        Loved the film, will definitely watch more! How do you see this being used commercially? or by everyday folks filming their vacations, etc?
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          Nov 20 2013: Re: " but if it weren't for the technology, you would not see the people in action in this way to be impressed by..."

          Good point. Excitement seems to be a goal for itself - like life or existence. We can say, we are excited about doing crazy things, or we can say we are excited about technology allowing us to do these things. But really, aren't we just excited about being excited? That's all there seems to be. No explanation is possible or necessary.
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    Nov 19 2013: Morton, Drones within themselves are neither good nor bad ... they are a tool in the toolbox. In Viet Nam they were called Buffalo Hunters and were a vital piece of intelligence gathering. In that regard I applaud them.

    I think the major concerns came from Eric Holder, the Attorney General, stating that the administration would not rule out the use of drones against US citizens. Since then many things have come to light such as the NSA issue, Home Land Security stocking ammo and buying up armored vehicles and plans for detention camps, the application of UN Article 21 agreed to by Hilary Clinton, the hidden lies of Obamacare, etc ... The realization that the administration has been far less than transparent in their actions is the scary part.

    The potential of drones being a force for good exists but the realization that the goals of our (USA) government may not be honorable should scare us all, both domestic and foreign.
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      Nov 19 2013: "government may not be honorable should scare us all"
      You mean like Bush inventing WMDs in Iraq ? I'm totally on your side ;-)
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        Nov 19 2013: Doesn't really fit in with the drones question ... However, neither side is without blame.
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          Nov 19 2013: Not with the drones, but with the "honorable".
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        Nov 19 2013: You imply that Bush was dishonorable but infer that Obama is ... I stated that neither side is without blame.
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          Nov 19 2013: " I stated that neither side is without blame." I can settle on this view ;-)
          Politicians are what they are regardless of party or country. In the end it's our fault because we vote for them. They are also a reflection of society in general.
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    Nov 18 2013: Drones are not more on my mind than nuclear warheads. We know that both exist, but the likelihood of being a target is not very high, unless you call yourself an Al Queda member, Taliban or something similar.
    On the other hand, I can imagine a lot of useful applications for drones such as research of areas that are difficult to access. I just read that drones were used to check on the damage created by Typhoon Haiyan.
    • Nov 19 2013: Could you please provide the evidence that backs your contention that drones can only be put to military use?
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        Nov 19 2013: What do you mean ? Did I say they only can be used for military purpose ? Or do you consider a typhoon a military event ?
    • Nov 20 2013: So in other words, you don't care as long as you are not the target. Well... At least you are honest about it. Unfortunately, that is probably the way most people think.
      • Nov 20 2013: The same argument could be made regarding police forces or building safety inspectors...
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        Nov 20 2013: I suppose it's a question of priorities. It's normal that you care more for something that is more likely to have an impact on you and your life than something that has not.
  • Nov 18 2013: Drones themselves are terrifying. I can't think of a single method to inspire more hate towards a country than using drones offensively. Unforeseen civilian casualties are a given, and there being no pilot just makes it a quicker association between the pain caused and the country that sent the drone.

    The use of drones is literally creating "terrorists". In all honesty, I don't see how the use of a drone couldn't be considered a terrorist tactic by definition--going on almost any of the hundreds of definitions for terrorism that exist. I do believe that drones can be used positively, to collect data or perform reconnaissance. But at the end of the day, the cons far outweigh the pros in my eyes. I think that continuing to pump money into the development and improvement of drones will lead to more destruction overall. The easier it is to kill without proximity the easier it is to kill without a conscious. Drones represent a sense of detachment to human life that can't be good for the world.
  • Nov 17 2013: I fear Drones from a standpoint of loss of Privacy, and the loss of Freedoms.

    It took only the last 45 years for the Senate's Intelligence Committee of 15 persons,
    to appropriate and give away over a $Trillion Dollars to the NSA and a dozen or so
    other Spy agencies that today invest those funds to for research and development,
    and continual growth of their worldwide surveillance programs. This is all legal.
    But it is not known to Americans. That is the problem.

    We today as a democratic people have allowed our elected politicians to change our
    US government into an almost perfect Killing Machine. Drones are the next step in
    the evolution of spying. Today they are being reduced in size. They have some as
    small as a humming-bird, maybe smaller.

    Drones every day, are being tested in never ending wars. Targeting for Hellfire and
    Cruise missiles (off the shores of Syria). For anyone the President wants dead.
    President Obama plays at war, secretly, deep in the vast regions of the African continent.
    The US Military and it's paid private contractors, train and equip Africans for wars.
    This is all legal. But it is not known to Americans. That is the problem.

    The day will come, sooner than we think. Revenge for collateral damages.

    You may argue otherwise. But when the bodies are counted. Afghani and Pakistani
    "dead and maimed wee children", as a result of American drones and their targeted
    collateral damages, now total more than the dead and maimed in "both attacks" on
    the World Trade Center.

    Back in the day 1984 -- The news was that two supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini were
    allegedly planning to bomb the WTC in the near future. I've always wondered, just
    who were the 1984 US government's tenants in the WTC. I've been told, the Secret Service
    and the CIA, both had offices there, back then. Funny how nobody ever mentions those things.
    It could have supplied a motive for twice. Can anyone else add anything?
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    Nov 17 2013: Well according to various media drones are the best bang for your buck these days if you are after specific targets and lots of folks like the idea that no human pilots are at risk. So it seems that the drone is fast becoming the go to tool for specific targeting. And yes the drone can replace the chopper and reporter for more up to date and relevant road reports as well as a host of other security related tasks.

    But its biggest boon will be for those who wage war and commit crimes of extreme violence. We have already seen a number of remotely operated machine guns employed with Breaking Bad as the latest. Drones and bombs have been a natural progression. One thing about the use of tools, if you successfully use it for a specific task then others are going to emulate you but for their own self interests. We must be very very careful about what we advocate in this arena.
    • Nov 18 2013: Specific targets: What is the extent of the oil spill? Are our wetlands being violated? Is this critical nesting ground for endangered species being trespassed on? There is more to the world than the militaristic bent of the evening news.
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        Nov 19 2013: yes monitoring the security of the environment is a nice advantage and specific targeting would apply here as well. And I agree that there are more socially beneficial uses, which is why I closed by suggesting we may come to regret all the advertising of remote spies and killing machines.
        • Nov 19 2013: It may take a day or more--or even more than a week--to get a ranger to a remote area. If Department of Natural Resources has a fleet of drones, one can be up in the air and over a sensitive site in hours. But what do we hear? "Drones are bad because Bush!"
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    Gord G

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    Nov 17 2013: I think present technology is passive. It requires human intelligence to operate (albeit complex systems give the appearance of autonomy). Drones are physical surrogates. Morality still requires human introspection tempered by empathy.

    It's anomie that has been the threat since Oldowan.
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    Nov 17 2013: Spies without flesh , can't torcher a drone, cant even kill it .

    Drones don't ask for raises , or to be off for sick leave .

    Drones don't have a conscious good for killing without remorse .

    I would also think they would be fun to operate / fly .

    Look cool.

    Cool names.


    When they are used on the american citizens for homeland spying which they already do in some aspects then as a nation we will be truly under sieg .


    just sayn
    • Nov 18 2013: Drones can fly much closer to a surface than can airplanes, important for monitoring oil spills. Drones can be used for a long-term look, since they are much cheaper to operate. The National Spill School (USA) is doing a lot of work with drones for such purposes.