As Drone Warfare Evolves, So Does Its Ethics
The military’s. Drone program is the fastest growing segment of the Air Force, but what are the ethics of such a program in which civilians are sometimes caught in the crossfire? Some people refer to the rpa program is joystick warfare, but is that really a fair term? Welcome to the 29th floor, I’m Anjali Milani and I’m here today.
With Fast Company’s, Ainsley O’Connell, so Ainsley you recently traveled to holloman air force base in New Mexico. What was that experience like? What did you do? It was eye-opening. I got to hang out with drone operators, both pilots and sensors.
I sat in the simulator and was a pilot for an afternoon. I went on a early morning test flight, where I got to play the sensor operator and control the camera and some of the weapons. It was really eye-opening.
It sounds like what you’re, describing is a very collaborative environment, mean my image of a drone operator is someone sitting in a trailer all by themselves. Just you know, looking at a screen and remotely dropping bombs on people in the beginning, drones were those missions were being run by the CIA in a lot of cases, and recently things have moved more within the military and, as that has happened, the the actual role Of drones in missions and operations has changed as well, so if once they were kind of on their own watching and striking there now often part of more integrated operations.
I think the drones, by that very nature of being in those sorts of operations, are following the rules of engagement in a much more traditional way, and the impact of that has been both a lower number of strikes.
The number of strikes is actually down pretty dramatically and also significant reduction. The number of casualties that are happening in terms of civilians there’s got to be some concern over this kind of disembodied warfare.
Two, when you’re, not in the place where you’re causing destruction. You know when you talk to a pilot there in a way going to say the opposite. I think they feel that they experienced war in a much more direct way than a lot of other soldiers these days.
Not only do they yes, fire the weapon, but then they are required to then sit and watch the aftermath, and so in a lot of cases that is watching parts of bodies be removed by members of a family that is watching.
Survivors try to escape. Who may be severely wounded, and so you know, I think they are very close to what’s happening in a way where they fully understand the implications of the actions that they’re.
Taking now that we, you know without a doubt, can prove, for example, that torture is happening somewhere or that genocide is happening somewhere. It’s very easy, with drone footage to to have that knowledge.
Do we then have an obligation to act, and I think that is a much more complicated question, and so there aren’t, actually easy solutions in those cases you know deciding to to take out a group that is torturing a civilian population, for example, That may, in the short term, seem easy and a good way to go about things, but in the long term could potentially have much more disruptive effects that are hard to anticipate.
Much of the history of this program actually centered around surveillance, not all director own operations are combat operations. You know a lot of these. These operations collect enormous amount of data through surveillance.
Is that something we should be concerned about it’s, something that I think increasingly, we will become concerned about as people start to explore additional use cases. For example, there’s, talk about using these along the us-mexico border and other things that are a little bit closer to home, and I think it’s very different to think about a drone very far away in a desert watching over Someone you’ve, never met before and quite another thing to think about it, a little bit closer to your own backyard, watching the highways and the roads near where you live well, thank you and Lee.
You’ve, given us a lot to think about. Clearly, we’re at the beginning of a whole new era of warfare. What do you think is drone warfare, ethical, let us know using the hashtag 29-4, you