Age of the Drone


By Mark Antony Rossi

The death of Osama Bin Laden did not come from flying killer robots but rather from stealth helicopters built to hover silently above a target and deliver soldiers to a highly contested area. This monster of a murderer died at the hands of human justice dispensed far from their homeland. But in the age of the drone his death is the exception not the rule.

The Drone, rocket-filled, GPS directed, flying attack robot, has become commonplace as an indispensable tool to track and eliminate terrorists throughout the world. While I do not deplore their use as a method to remove murdering religious fascists from the planet – we must as a civil society decide how and when such weapons are permitted.

If we are to truly pursue ethical consideration for all facets of technology, drones are a suitable subject to study. The following areas bring about the most concern:

Tactical:  does drone use, or misuse or overuse, contribute to the reduction of real time human intelligence from terrorists. Difficult to interrogate or gather more information from people nearly atomized by Hellfire rockets.

Ethical: does drone use harm the warrior spirit or the human element in warfare or just plain killing when the actual killing is done by a machine; not a man.

Technological:  does continued drone use render this technology on the verge of obsolete as defenses and weapons are created to counter its presence.

Humanity’s level of comfort has increased as it has segued from washing machines to killing machines but we must carefully consider whether ease of use and speed of action are worth splintering of our collective moral compass. Often in our daily lives convenience tends to be expensive and should be only engaged periodically as a means to contain price. And price is the best bench mark to judge how much technology weighs on our conscience. As a channel of power, technology may prove to be an irresistible corrupting influence on a species that has never shown a tolerance to coexist with its environment.

About the Author: Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and author of the bioethics volume “Dark Tech” now available from Amazon. His most recent plays have been produced in Liverpool and New York.

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