In 2011, The New York Times published an article titled, “Coming Soon: The Drone Arms Race.” The article foresaw a new “Arms Race” commencing, this time not in pursuit of the nuclear bomb, but in a new weapon, which to some is even more startling— the unmanned drone. Defense departments in nations across the globe have recognized the drone’s utility in combat and surveillance due to its precision, agility, and elusiveness. According to President Obama regarding drone operations: “Simply put, these strikes have saved lives.” The technology has been aggressively pursued and proliferated by countries in fear of falling behind one another militarily.
The competition for drones exists not only in the defense sector. Large private sector companies are beginning to wage their own wars for the technology in order to “stay ahead of the curve.” The Wall Street Journal released an article yesterday announcing that in the midst of Google and Facebook’s, “…battle to extend their influence,” Google has acquired a maker of solar-powered drones. The drones it plans to develop, will allow it to deliver faster data speeds to its customers.
I highly recommend reading the WSJ article. Keeping in mind the technology’s current military applications and combat capabilities, while reading, I couldn’t help but question whether the technology is potentially helping to weaponize private companies. The idea that Google or Facebook would ever attempt to physically harm anyone seems farfetched but with the power of the Internet expanding and its security becoming proportionally more questionable, these questions need to be raised. Given the significance of the services that these companies provide, if the technology fell into the wrong hands, the fallout would be catastrophic. With this considered, can private companies be trusted with drone technology? Is the “Drone Race” in the private sector, safe?