Francis Fukuyama has a wonderful op-ed in the FT this weekend on the consequences of proliferating drone technology. Don't miss it! Here's an exceprt:
Surely, however, America’s rather liberal use of this technology has something to do with the asymmetry of power between the US and its current opponents in places such as Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. But this situation will not last for ever. Drone technology is within the reach of many countries, and has been filtering down to ordinary consumers year by year. (Much of the hobbyist drone technology comes from China, even now.) If I can have my own surveillance drone, anyone can.
What will the world look like when not just the US but many other countries around the world operate fleets of drones; and when powerful, sophisticated drones are owned by lots of private individuals? What would our attitude be if our enemies could pick off visiting dignitaries as they stepped off the aeroplane in a supposedly friendly country, or attack soldiers in their bases in Europe or Asia? Or if Americans became vulnerable in Florida or New York? Drones might become an inexpensive delivery vehicle for terrorists or rogue states that can’t afford to deliver payloads in ballistic missiles. Some of the remotely controlled aeroplanes that hobbyists build are a third to half the size of their full-scale counterparts. As the technology becomes cheaper and more commercially available, moreover, drones may become harder to trace; without knowing their provenance, deterrence breaks down. A world in which people can be routinely and anonymously targeted by unseen enemies is not pleasant to contemplate.