Article Review: We Have Been in the Drone age for a While
Drones are normally thought of as a relatively new type of technology, however drone technology has existed for hundreds of years. According to Tomanelli (2018), “A drone, formally known as an unmanned aircraft system (“UAS”) or unmanned aerial vehicle (“UAV”), is defined as a remotely controlled unmanned aircraft” (p.6). Though not recognized until the Vietnam war, UAV technologies were developed during the first World War. The expansion of military drone technology over the years has expanded into society. Drones have become useful tools for the government, police, business owners, and hobbyists alike.
In the article “Welcome to the Drone Age” by The Economist, the main idea is that drones have become prominent in society with roles in both the private and public sector. The article does an adequate job of giving an overview on modern drones and the possible uses. The article did attempt to give both pro’s and con’s, notably, the pros seem to heavily outweigh the cons upon given information. In addition, one of the main interviewees is the owner of dronelife.com, which could be seen as biased. The article did cover a satisfactory amount of somewhat opinionated information for the positives of drones. However, there is a lack of relevant information regarding costs, privacy issues, and the depths of how drones can be criminally used.
Costs Associated with Drone use
The article did not provide sufficient information in regards to costs associated with drones. For example, when referencing “The Phantom” or any of the other drones; no cost is given. Portions of the article are baseless opinion that is not backed up by fact, such as “But the new machines are so cheap, so useful and have so much unpredictable potential that the best approach to regulation may simply be let a lot of flyers zoom” (The Economist, 2015, p. 474) Throughout the article, drones are pushed to be “cheap”, however a single google search provides that these drones start at a few thousand dollars. While “cheap and affordable” can be subjective, it could be argued that most beginner hobbyists likely do not have thousands of dollars to spare. Additionally, there is no information regarding costs in professional drone usage. The article would have benefitted from constructing better examples of why drones are used. In cases such as postage delivery, is it cheaper or more effective than personal delivery? According to The Economist (2015) none of the current drones reach or exceed a fly time of 60 minutes. (p.475) With the battery life/fly time of the current drone, there should be effective reasoning to justify the usage.
While the article touches on the fact that drones could be used to invade personal privacy, it is extremely brief and later disregarded because drones are “cheap, useful and full of potential.” And therefore, the best route to regulation is to neglect regulation. Furthermore, the article does not provide sufficient information about risks regarding privacy for either hobbyist drones or professional drones used by the government. The only time privacy is actually referenced is in a small part of a quote, with no further context: “For privacy, from both state and nosy neighbors” (The Economist, 2015, p. 474). The overall lack of context for the majority of cons to drones in this piece seem to give a “sweep it under the rug” tone. The author could have given more information in reference to privacy laws and drones, such as information about the legality of drones by state. For example, according to Tomanelli (2018) certain states such as Louisiana have properly criminalized the use of surveilling personal property with the intent of spying on an individual or their property. (p. 30)
Criminal Activity and Drone Usage
There is a severe lack in concern for the potential risks of drones being utilized for criminal activity. The article seems to gloss over possible cons such as safety, given that the examples were short and sweet while the pros had much more coverage. The article does provide examples of criminal activity such as burglarizing with the usage of drones as surveillance, a fallen drone at the White House, and a graffiti artist that vandalized a New York billboard. Notably though, the article is missing the more prominent safety issues regarding hobby drones, such as stalking and harassment. According to Tomanelli, drones have already imposed safety hazards:
In July 2015, a father in Kentucky shot a drone that was hovering over his yard while his teen daughter was sunbathing. The father claimed, “We don’t know if they’re pedophiles looking for kids, we don’t know if they’re thieves. We don’t know if it’s ISIS.” There are many other similar incidents; for example, in Kansas, a man charged that his neighbor’s flying a drone near his teenage stepdaughter’s bedroom window invaded his family’s privacy. The man was concerned and stated, “The Peeping Toms that