Good or Evil? The Truth About Drones

Featured Image: Drone First Test Flight by Richard Unten (CC BY 2.0)

An unmanned aerial vehicle, more commonly known as a “drone”, is a small aircraft that can be controlled from a separate location (Howell, 2015).  While they are predominantly used for military purposes, drones are now available in the mass market for ordinary consumers to purchase and use.

Because of this, the acceptable use of drones has become a public issue. It has brought out people’s fears of surveillance in areas deemed private, such as the home.

The representation of drones in the media is disproportionately negative and inflammatory. While they can absolutely be used for unethical purposes, they can also bring about fantastic change for people in Australia and around the world.

I asked Twitter whether the benefits of drones outweighed the associated privacy concerns and the results, to me, were unsurprising.

Tweet embedded from my @amy_thompson97 profile.

The outcome of my Twitter poll reflects exactly how I felt before I did some research on the several and significant benefits of drones. I considered them to be annoying toys that were fun for about 5 minutes before they got boring. The privacy concerns did occur to me, but they were not something I worried about personally. All in all, I was 50/50 – I didn’t have a strong opinion about them.

In the news we often hear that drones are used for people to spy on you from your own backyard while you’re sunbathing by the pool or how they could potentially be used by governments to survey it’s unknowing citizens, taking a page out of Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eight-Four (although Orwell himself never imagined the use of drones for this).

Tweet embedded from my @amy_thompson97 profile.

Mainstream media often presents a dystopian view of technology, so many average Australians only know the dangers of drones rather than the good they can bring.

34807971146_eaf768c8de_o.jpg
BLM_Drone_Training_07 by Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Drones can be used by scientists for environmental conservation and management practices, including collecting data about animal movements, invasive species, and habitat changes (Markowitz et al 2017, pp. 381-382). Drones are not only a cost-effective way to do this, but they are also less destructive and intrusive to the natural wildlife and environment compared to larger vehicles or visiting in person.

 

Drones can also be used by emergency services to survey damaged areas in emergency situations, such as earthquakes for long periods of time (Giovani et al 2017, p. 54). The use of drones means that injured people can be located without unnecessarily risking the lives of rescue teams.

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Flying quadcopter drone agriculture farming by ackab1 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Drones can give farmers much needed assistance throughout the crop-cycle (Mazur, 2016) and can even deliver blood and other medical supplies in emergency situations (Cohn 2017).

Before doing my own research, I had never even considered these examples of how drones can bring significant opportunities to a multitude of industries and people.

 

Yes, drones can be used with bad intentions, but this is nothing new. We tend to focus on the negative aspects of technology and forget or ignore the vast advantages they can bring to everyone. There are always risks that come with technology, but this doesn’t mean that drones should be shunned altogether, as long as wrong-doers are dealt with accordingly. With substantial laws and education, to me there is no question that the benefits of drones outweigh any related privacy concerns.

Thanks for reading!

– Amy

(516 words, not including citations, tweets and captions)

References: 

Cohn, M 2017, ‘Drones could soon get crucial medical supplies to patients in need’, Baltimore Sun, 1 January, retrieved 5 August 2017, <http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/maryland-health/bs-hs-drones-for-blood-20161223-story.html>.

Giovani, M, Ramalli, G, Manning, N, & Manneschi, M 2017, ‘Monitoring with drones during a major emergency’, Advances In Environmental Sciences, vol. 9, no. 1, p. 54, Environment Complete, EBSCOhost, retrieved 5 August 2017.

Howell, E 2015, ‘What is a drone?’, Space.com, 2 June, retrieved 5 August 2017, <https://www.space.com/29544-what-is-a-drone.html>

Markowitz, E M, Nisbet, M C, Danylchuk, A J, Engelbourg, S I 2017, ‘What’s that buzzing noise? Public opinion on the use of drones for conservation science’, BioScience, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 381 – 382, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/bix003, retrieved 5 August 2017. 

Mazur, M 2016, ‘Six ways drones are revolutionizing agriculture’, MIT Technology Review, 20 July, retrieved 5 August 2017, <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601935/six-ways-drones-are-revolutionizing-agriculture/>.

Orwell, G 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four, London, Penguin Books.

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2 thoughts on “Good or Evil? The Truth About Drones

  1. Super interesting post! It’s fascinating to think about how drone help our lives, and can be used for good! I mean, I’m super excited for my pizza to be delivered by drone! And within the film industry there it much better environmentally then using a helicopter to take aerial shots. Post is excellent, your content so well thought out! Your references were well integrated, as were your tweets (great use of the poll!) Also great use of language, the humour really helps! Indeed Orwell would have never pictured this outcome himself (though would he have pictured drones becoming a thing?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Amy,
    This post really got me thinking, because I never knew that drones could be used for so many important and positive things in society like the use of them for science and farming. You have completely opened my mind to the thought that drones are in fact useful. I think it was good that you spoke about the positives of this type of surveillance and technology, rather than being negative. The only thing I could possibly critique you on, would be to have expanded your images to something other than drones. Obviously your post is all about drones, but I think three photos of all drones is a bit repetitive. Maybe you could have put in a picture of a person controlling one, to put a face to the controllers of these machines.
    But I think this blog is really well written and I enjoyed reading it. Great job!

    Like

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