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Morton Bast

editorial coordinator, TED


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Which application of drones excites or terrifies you the most?

We're dedicating this week on TED.com 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 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.


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