Drones provide a paradigmatic example of an accelerating technology. They first appeared in the 1950s, but improvements in computation and automation have made drones far more capable in the last ten years. During that short period, drones have already transformed our air force and are on the cusp of commercialization. More generally, when machine intelligence gets into a space, it relentlessly advances, shaking up the world and creating wealth and opportunities.
How the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chooses to regulate drones thus has implications for accelerating technology more generally. And, from what has been published about their proposals, the agency appears to be making a complete hash of the enterprise. Some reports say that commercial drone operators will be required to hold a commercial pilot’s license and thus have experience in manned flight. But the ability to pilot an airplane may be neither necessary nor sufficient to handle drones.
Recently, Senator Dianne Feinstein objected to CIA surveillance of Senate committee staffers who were looking through classifed documents relating to the agency's previous interrogation and detention practices. Feinstein, who has generally been supportive of NSA monitoring, has been criticized on the ground that she only objected to government surveillance when it affected her. Feinstein has now opened herself up to more criticism of this sort. In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday night, the California Democrat said a drone spied into the window of her home during a protest outside her house, and that privacy concerns for the…
The impressive capacity of drone aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles to destroy anyone unprotected by serious air defenses has led the US government (and the think-tank community) to overlook the first-order questions regarding their use, indeed regarding the use of any military force. To wit: Are we targeting those we really want to kill? Who are the people whose deaths would relieve us of our problems? The first is a classic question of intelligence. The second is the classic questions of strategy. But our national security Establishment has accustomed itself to substituting tactics for both intelligence and strategy.