A different side to drones
It seems like it is against the trend to oppose unmanned drones. You could look insensitive to technological advancement or you could be considered a skeptic. When countries are engaged in competition over developing drones, those who don’t participate may fall behind.
Holding a philosophical debate over drones is perhaps already meaningless. The market is already on the move, as regulations are expected to be lifted drastically. Google and Amazon have announced that some of their deliveries will be made by drone and are recruiting pilots. More than 10 universities in the United States have opened classes related to drones.
Drones are increasingly being used for positive purposes. Ambulance drones used in countries like the Netherlands arrive at the scene first and provide medical supplies. Compared to when their military uses were highlighted, people feel far less resistant to drones these days. Just in time, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International has projected that more than 100,000 jobs will be created by 2025 because of drone development.
But the latest reports from the United States and Europe are casting concerns that we may be overly trusting the use of drones and the effectiveness of regulations on them. Reprieve UK claims that U.S. drone attacks on terrorist suspects in the Middle East have resulted in more than 1,000 civilian deaths. A U.S. drone struck a wedding in Yemen, killing 12 people including guests and the bride. While we cannot say for sure that the human rights organization’s disclosures are accurate, a considerable number of civilians have been killed in drone attacks. In an interview with CNN last year, a U.S. drone pilot said his attacks have killed 1,623 people, including children.
A Federal Aviation Administration document reported by U.S. media last month is also noteworthy. In the last six months, there have been 25 cases of drones almost colliding with large aircraft. There have been 193 cases of passenger jet pilots spotting drones while flying and filing a report. And we need to think about terror threats as well as aviation safety. The U.S. government’s basic position is that meticulous regulation is possible. But optimism is not necessarily a good thing, as we have seen with gun control. Gun-related violence is practically impossible to prevent, so post-accident response capacity is improved as regulations are not effective when guns are already widely distributed.
Drones are far more frightening than guns as weapons of destruction. In order not to follow the precedence of gun control, overly conservative reviews are necessary, which should not be swayed by economic theories or be swept up in optimism. The possibility of hacking and other technical discussions are also necessary. When the market moves first and regulations follow, it leads to a disaster. If the authorities are not confident in implementing perfect control, tight restrictions could be a solution until thorough preparation is complete.
*The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 2, Page 34
by LEE SANG-BOK