Drone is one of the most recent technologies that are influencing the lives of humans. A drone, as Finn and Wright (184) explained, is an unmanned flying vehicle. Drones are different from robots, but they have some similarities. The main difference between them is that robots are machines that are programmed to operate without the control of human beings whereas drones are controlled from a particular point. Despite this, scientists are exploring ways of developing drones that will not need to be controlled and thus, they will be almost similar to robots in their operations. Although drones were developed earlier, it is only in 2000 that they were first used by the US law enforcers. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in particular, flew drones that were not armed over Afghanistan. After September 11, 2001, attacks by the terrorist group called Al-Qaida, the US developed and started flying drones that were armed (Finn and Wright 184). The use of drones by the US law enforcers and the military has become a common thing today. Other countries, including Canada and the UK, have also been using drones recently. Many other uses for the drones apart from for law enforcement and defense have emerged (Finn and Wright 185). For instance, they are used to deliver food and medical aid to people trapped in areas where disasters and war have occurred and for agricultural purposes. However, the drones can be used to make attacks or to access private information from individuals or organizations (Finn and Wright 185). Despite the fact that drones have many uses in social, business and security areas, they have negative aspects that limit their use. On the overall, drones are good to the society. To begin with, with increase in their presence, there will be more regulations on how they are used, which will minimize their negative effects, such as intrusion on private property. As a result, they will mainly have many benefits such as enhancing security, improving surveillance, and quickly delivering urgent parcels.
Benefits of Drones
Today, the US law enforcement and military officers use drones extensively for various purposes. The military used the drones to strike Taliban terrorists in 2001. Since then, the military has been using them to strike opponents in different places. The drones are convenient for that purpose since they enable the military officers to fight the opponents without getting close to them. Thus, their use enhances the safety of the military officers. However, such strikes can be in-discriminatory (Perlman). Even innocent people such as children that should not be targeted during the attacks can be victimized easily. Recently, concerns have been raised that the US military’s use of drones against terrorist groups in Pakistan has led to deaths of many civilians. In 2013, the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International stated that the US was supposed to be held accountable for the civilian deaths that were caused by military attacks on terrorists using drones (Logan). The drones also enable the military officers to survey their opponents or to gather information about where they are headed. The law enforcement officers, such as the CIA, use the drones mainly for surveillance purpose. For instance, they use the drones to access and make surveillance of areas where criminals or terrorists are expected to be. In addition, the drones have sometimes helped to determine the plans of terrorists and criminals (Perlman). The law enforcement officers have been using drones for other purposes, including prison surveillance, making attacks on terrorists and criminals, road traffic monitoring, surveillance of road accidents, surveillance of protesting crowds and preventing poaching. Thus, most of the uses of the drones by the law enforcement officers have positive effects since they rarely make in-discriminatory attacks (Perlman). Also, the law enforcers do not need always to go the places where terrorists and criminals are physically and thus, the drones enhance their safety.
Drones have properties that make them useful for other purposes apart from enhancement of security. To start with, they are less distracting and smaller than the traditional systems of surveillance. For instance, the drones are not as distracting as satellites, helicopters, and airplanes. Unlike some of the traditional systems of surveillance, such as helicopters and aircrafts, drones do not make a lot of noise. Due to the properties mentioned above, drones have the ability to fly much closer than other surveillance systems to the area of target surveillance without being detected (Perlman). Another important property of the drones is that they can be flown to areas that cannot be accessed easily, such as areas with dangerous gasses. Some of the drones are designed in a way that they can camouflage when they move to different places (Perlman). Further, drones can be acquired with ease compared to the traditional surveillance systems due to their relatively low cost. In fact, the cost of some of the drones is as low as $100, although their cost is determined by their uses. The last property, which is very helpful to the law enforcers and the military officers, is that drones are easily destroyed even when they are carrying out surveillance operations (Perlman). Consequently, they enable the operators to destroy information that may be accessed by war opponents, terrorists, criminals and unauthorized persons when they are captured.
The properties of drones mention above have facilitated their use in many rescue and search missions. For instance, they have recently been applied in searching and rescuing people and animals that were trapped in flooded areas in Texas (Carroll). The use of the drones for that purpose has been taking place in many other countries, not just in the US. China has been using drones to rescue people in areas where earthquakes cause major damages. In Japan, Kedena Police have made a resolution to be using drones in search missions when disasters occur (Carroll). Such drones are equipped with strong cameras and equipment that take high-definition images. Thus, the images help to locate people and animals trapped in the areas that are difficult to access. Some of those drones are designed in a way that they take food and medications to people that ought to be rescued. The negative aspect of using the drones in rescue and search activities is that there may be delays in providing direct human assistance where it is necessary to save lives. For instance, some of the people affected by disasters in places that can be accessed by helicopters may not be dead, but they may be physically injured to the extent that they may not be able to take the food and use the medications brought by the drones (Carroll). Chances of dying may be high if plans to use helicopters to rescue them are not executed quickly. Scientists have been using the drones with high-definition cameras to study environmental features and components, including animals, mountains, and vegetation. The drones are beneficial since they help in studying animals that are dangerous closely without endangering the lives of the scientists. Also, the scientists can use the drones to study the behaviors of animals without distracting them. The flexibility of applications for the drones has facilitated their use for business purposes. For instance, marketers have been using them to take images of real estates (Carroll). Firms and individuals have been using the drones to make surveillance of activities involving mining and construction. In agriculture, they are used to monitor crops. Thus, the drones are already being used for very many purposes.
Apart from having many uses today, drones have very many potential uses. First, many business organizations are considering starting delivering products to their customers using the drones. Advancement in technology has opened an opportunity for firms to sell their products online, in addition to selling them through physical stores. In fact, almost all serious organizations today in the US display their products online together with their prices and allow customers to purchase from there. The customers can get the products from the physical stores later or the products can be delivered to the customers. Some firms, such as Amazon and eBay, sell their products primarily through online stores and deliver them to the locations where the customers are. Recently, many companies, including FedEx, Dominos, Amazon and DHL have announced that they are planning to start delivering the products they sell online to their customers using drones (Kreps 45). Dominos has done it practically already in the UK market. The company has tested the effectiveness of the use of drones using its drone called Domidrone to deliver pizzas to the customers. Amazon has started the process of implementing the technology as it has already patented it. Although the use of drones in the US is extensive in many areas as explained earlier, its use to deliver products to customers has been slow. If well implemented, the technology will help to deliver products quickly to the customers after they purchase online. The main negative effect of using the drones is that the experience of meeting customers face to face, which is essential in enhancing customer loyalty, can be adversely affected. To some customers, however, the negative effect can be compensated by the increased speed of delivery.
In the Aviation industry, drones can help to improve flight safety through speeding up aircraft inspections. During the flight, inspections on problems occurring on the outer parts of aircraft are sometimes done through moving platforms or systems that take the time to fix. Internal systems are also used to determine problems occurring on the outer parts of the airplanes Kreps 61). The internal systems can delay or fail to detect the problems. Such issues have adverse effects on the flight safety especially during emergencies in the cases where quick response is needed. The drones can be fitted with high-definition cameras and be used to inspect aircrafts from outside in cases of emergencies. EasyJet, a UK airline that operates on many routes in the US, has considering developed a drone called quadcopter to be carrying out inspections on aircrafts during flight. In fact, the company has already developed a quadcopter although it has not started using it (Kreps 61).
The potential negative effects and uses of the drones cannot be ignored. As John (8) explained, using drones has a high potential of invading human privacy in many ways. Privacy invasion can be intentional. For instance, people using the drones can decide to fly them inside private rooms of others, such as bed rooms. They can also decide to fly them in places where people have private meetings or intimate relationships. Malicious people can use the private information they gather against the targeted individuals. For instance, they can spread sensitive information about leaders in the public with the aim of ruining their reputation. In some cases, invading the privacy of others using drones may be unintentional. For instance, the law enforcement officers can fly the drones inside the houses where they think crime suspects are hiding. As they do so, they end up gathering images of innocent people engaging in intimate relationships. The problem with the drones is that the operators can fly them over the targeted areas even without official approval. In the US, for instance, the law enforcement officers do not need the approval to fly the drones in houses where they think crime suspects are hiding, yet they cannot enter those houses physically without a search warrant. Due to the high potential of the drones to invade the privacy of people, law enforcement officers in the US have been seeking for increased regulation on their use.
Another major issue is that drones can be used by criminals to make surveillance of their targets (Nicas, 2015). The number of drones owned by the civilians is increasing, and it is likely to increase at a high rate in the future unless tight regulations are established to limit their ownership and use. As more civilians continue to own the drones, there is the likelihood that the possibility of criminals accessing them will increase. If the criminals access the drones, it will be much easier than before to track their targets and to attack them when they are most vulnerable (Nicas, 2015). Similarly, the drones are likely to be accessed by terrorist groups in the future due to the increase in their ownership by the citizens. The terrorist groups can use them to gather information about their targets. The major issue of concern is that the terrorist groups can carry lethal weapons using the drones and strike against their targets easily (Warrick, 2017). Another issue raised about the drones is that they are very likely to make the operators become desensitized to killings and deaths. Unlike in the situations where the persons that go to war have a direct experience of its damage to the targeted people, the pilots of drones control them on just as they play computer games. Due to the lack of direct experience, the users of the drones can get used to killing people without feeling regrets even when innocent people die.
Overall, the use of drones started at the beginning of the 21st century, but they have become very common within a period of less than two decades. They were used by the military initially, but they are now used for many other purposes. They still have very many potential uses. As explained in the above discussion, the drones have very many positive aspects, including enhancing security, to rescue people trapped in areas that are inaccessible, for agricultural purposes and to enhance business operations, among others. Despite this, they have negative aspects, including invasion of people’s privacy, desensitizing the pilots to killings and the potential of being misused by terrorists and criminals.
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