Realizing the Negatives: Proliferation of Drones

Drone attack

B2W has repeatedly warned of the emerging threats from drones, unmanned systems, and autonomous technology to the United States.  It is only now that the public is beginning to recognize the implications of the last ten years of drone proliferation.  Like the atomic bomb, when it was only the U.S. that had it, it was a great weapon.  However, once the Soviets acquired nuclear weapons, they became a pariah and the central focus of U.S. security policy for half a century.  Drones will be no different.

In fact, drones may actually be much worse from a perspective of actual versus potential threat when compared to nuclear weapons simply because drones have been and will continue to be widely used.  As this easily proliferated technology, which is nearly impossible to contain, spreads to nations and non-state actors, it will open a host of new threats.  For starters, it is already revolutionizing smuggling.  Drugs, weapons, and soon people will be moving freely across borders with impunity.  Autonomous submarines, remotely controlled jet boats and vehicles, and unmanned aircraft will make the human smuggler obsolete and unnecessary.  Why take the risk of paying someone to move drugs when you can fly a drone across a border and make a precision air delivery without any way to track down the smugglers?  Further, what counter measures do we have for this?  Place air defense systems along our borders and shoot down anything that looks like an airplane?  Get real, the cost alone would be prohibitive to mention nothing of the risk of an inevitable accidental shoot down of a manned craft!

Even more ominous will be the ability for our enemies to conduct targeted assassinations from the comfort and safety of protective regimes situated on the opposite side of the globe.  This is when the demons we created truly come back to haunt us and we have to take our own medicine we have dished out from Pakistan to Libya.  Imagine a Secret Service detail now having to worry about a hellfire missile launched from a stealth drone ten miles away or a remote controlled army of vehicle borne explosives driving toward critical infrastructure!

Policy makers take note.  This is only a very small portion of the huge range of drone implications for domestic security.  For those that deal with security, it will only be a matter of time before drone issues overwhelm your daily calendar.  In the interim, we suggest policy makers consider what it will be like “when” our drone technology is used against us before authorizing more spending on drones and passing laws allowing drone flights across the United States.  Slow down and let common sense catch up with the technology.