Killer drones raise new moral questions

Military technologies are always divisive, though not stoppable. And they tend to stem from something noble, which eventually turns sinister. The latest alarm was a result of the increasing use of killer drones, which prompted some experts and former war veterans to caution that, even in the immoral world of wars, drones can make things far more immoral.

Technologies are making humans who remote-control drones more and more like children playing video-games. That is the main problem. When deaths or killings seem to be happening so far away, the "combat mentality" can combine with the comfort zone to highly murderous effect. When it's so easy to kill without risking your own life, will you be merciful or shoot them up?

One may argue that drones are not much different from long-range missiles or smart bombs, as they are all effective killers while those who launch them are far away from battle scenes. Drone controllers, however, are required to be more engaged and make a lot "on-the-spot" decisions. They are more "battle-hardened" than missile launchers, who can kill by pushing a button once or twice.

When it comes to wars, humanitarian talks seem ironic at best and pretentious at worst. Weapons have always been designed to give their users the utmost advantage. When fully developed, drones will be such ultimate weapons. But the key question being asked is what happens to human souls in the long run when wars are like some kind of game. When it's so easy and comfortable kill, will we see the day when drone controllers eat hamburgers and listen to music when firing away?

Fast-evolving technologies ensure that drones will get smaller and more and more lethal. The range

of control will get longer and longer. One soldier will be able to control many drones at the same time. Age, meanwhile, may not matter much in combat. First, there will surely |be talk about keeping children out of it, but nothing creates slippery slopes better than wars. To begin with, kids like games, and the last thing we need do is make wars look like them.

They say military drones will replace war heroes in shaping history. Simply put, America could have won the Vietnam War had its soldiers been armed with a couple of dozen drones. Courage will give way to technology in future wars. Strategists may end up secondary to drone developers or technicians. In a worst-case scenario, which ruler needs a conscience if he has the most effective drone army under his command?

As of now, immediate psychological effects are on the drone pilots, who have been warned by 45 former US military personnel that drones operating in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and many places else are in danger of "profoundly violating domestic and international laws". Thousands of lives have been taken unjustly in US drone attacks, it's said. The warning adds more pressure to drone pilots, who, while experiencing none of the personal danger faced by pilots in the cockpit of fighter jets, are reportedly suffering high levels of stress.

All these arguments will not put an end to the development of combat drones. At best, the developers will be forced to pursue their work underground. The future looks scary and it seems a matter of when rather than if. The current campaign to make drone controllers walk away from "unlawful" orders is a signal that the future is a lot closer than we think.

More about

Drones
Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.