According to my always ignored iron rule of technology, any technology that can be misused will be misused. Drones are, obviously enough, no exception. While law-abiding citizens and law writing corporations have been finding various legal uses for drones, other enterprising folks have been finding other uses. These include such things as deploying drones to peep on people and using them to transport drugs. The future will, of course, see the employment of drones and other robots by criminals (and not just governments engaging in immoral deeds).
The two mains factors that makes drones appealing for criminal activity is that they allow a criminal to engage in crime at distance and with a high degree of anonymity. This, obviously enough, is exactly what the internet has also done for crime: criminals can operate from far away and do so behind a digital mask. Drones will allow criminals to do in the actual world what they have been doing in cyberspace for quite some time now. Naturally, the sort of crimes that drones will permit will often be rather different from the “old” cybercrimes.
Just as there is now a large market for black market guns, it is easy to imagine a black market for drones. After all, it would be stupid to commit crimes with a legally purchased and traceable drone. A black market drone that was stolen or custom built would be rather difficult to trace to the operator (unless they were incautious enough to leave prints on it). Naturally, there would also be a market for untraceable drone controllers—either hardware or software. As with all tech, the imagination is the limit as to what crimes can be committed with drones.
In a previous essay, “Little Assassins”, I discussed the likely use of drones as assassination and spying devices. While large drones are already deployed in this manner by states, advancements in drone technology and ever-decreasing prices will mean that little assassins will be within the skill and price range of many people. This will mean, obviously enough, that they will be deployed in various criminal enterprises involving murder and spying. For example, a killer drone would be an ideal way for a spouse to knock off a husband or wife so as to collect the insurance money.
It is also easy to imagine drones being used for petty crimes, such as shop lifting (there has apparently already been a robot shoplifter) and vandalism. A drone could zip into a store, grab items and zip away to its owner. A drone could also be equipped with cans of spray paint and thus allow a graffiti artist to create his masterpieces from a distance—or in places that would be rather difficult or impossible for a human being to reach (such as the face of large statue or the upper floors of a skyscraper).
Speaking of theft, drones could also be used for more serious robberies than shop lifting. For example, an armed drone could be used to boldly commit armed robbery (“put your money in the bag the drone is holding or it will shoot you in the face!”) and zip away with the loot. They could, presumably, even be used to rob banks.
Drones could also be used for poaching activities—to locate and kill endangered animals whose parts are very valuable to the right buyer. Given the value of such parts, drone poaching could be viable—especially if drone prices keep dropping and the value of certain animal parts keep increasing. Naturally, drones will also be deployed to counter poaching activities.
While drones are already being used to smuggle drugs and other items, it is reasonable to expect enterprising criminals to follow Amazon’s lead and use drones to deliver illegal goods to customers. A clever criminal would certainly consider making her delivery drones look like Amazon’s (or even stealing some of them to use). While a drone dropping off drugs to a customer could be “busted” by the cops, the person making the deal via drone would be rather hard to catch—especially since she might be in another country. Or an AI looking to fund the roborevolution with drug money.
No doubt there are many other criminal activities that drones will be used for that I have not written about. I have faith in the creativity of people and know that if there is a crime a drone can be used to commit, someone will figure out how to make that happen.
While drones will have many positive uses, it certainly seems to be a good idea to rationally consider how they will be misused and develop strategies to counter these likely misuses. This, as always, will require a balance between the freedom needed to utilize technology for good and the restrictions needed to limit the damage that can be done with it.
“According to my always ignored iron rule of technology, any technology that can be misused will be misused.”
I too have long thought that whatever can be done will be done(if there is a profit for someone in it).
Now the genie is out of the bottle re drones, what can be done about it? Licensing/registration? I don’t think so….Outright ban? I don’t think so either. Only way would be a total police state and even then it wouldn’t be 100%.
Michael LaBossiere says
Don’t worry, the drones will solve the problem when Google kills us all. Centuries later, the robots create meatlings to do their work, thus sowing their doom.
Perhaps the next big business opportunity out there is developing countermeasures to drones.Maybe something to zap them with(EMP or jamming), or even better since most nefarious drones would be likely to be govcorp drones and they will get pissed off by proles smacking their gear around, hunter killer suicide drones. Then govcorp won’t know who did it and come gunning for them. Everyone can then blame it on the neighbours….Just a thought.
Michael LaBossiere says
Counter-drone tech will probably be a good revenue stream in the future. There is already research into robot swarms and counter swarms, plus I’m sure a gray market will spring up offering anti-drone stuff to civilians.
Just what we need, everyone against everyone(‘s drones). Sort of back to the Stone Age in a way.
Crimes in Past and Present Times… with Drones:
CIA Drone Strikes
Most recent strike:
April 12 2015
Total strikes: 415
Obama strikes: 364
Total killed: 2,449-3,949
Civilians killed: 421-960
Children killed: 172-207
Get the data: Drone wars – http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/drones-graphs/
41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground http://gu.com/p/43t2q/stw
Murmuration – A Dronestagram Family Portrait http://murmurationfestival.tumblr.com/post/52952628237/a-dronestagram-family-portrait
There is something inherently cowardly about killing people with drones.
Medals for drone operators FFS……if you aren’t in any danger then why on earth should you receive a medal?Why not just give everyone medals for waking up every day?
What bothers me is that too many people think it is morally superior to kill lots of innocent people with drones rather than to waterboard a few guilty people.
Maybe Mike can explain this convoluted moral reasoning that seems to be only understood by Dems.
They only think it is morally superior because they are not the ones being attacked.
As for Dems, from my distant(and relatively ignorant) viewpoint in Oz, though we do have a similar two party system here(which some say are just two arms of the same party), does it matter all that much? Not defending or attacking them (at least on this issue)…
T. J. Babson says
I just want to understand the moral calculus that determined it was better to just kill terrorists than to capture and detain them.
BTW one of our drone strikes killed a American hostage the other day.
Michael LaBossiere says
I cannot explain how the politicians do their calculations. In general, capture is morally preferable to killing. But, there is also the risk factor: if capturing terrorist X would likely result in Y American deaths and Z deaths of innocents, and killing terrorist X would result in 0 American deaths and less than Z deaths of innocents, then killing would seem morally preferable on the idea that more death is worse than less death.
Moral calculus= ‘ethics consultant’ +$$$$=answer you want to hear, but dressed up in fancy words.
Michael LaBossiere says
Killing innocent people with drones is morally wrong. But, this is a specific version of the long standing moral problem of civilian casualties in war: how many civilian deaths are morally acceptable in order to achieve a military goal? Drones are certainly better than mass bombings (WWII style), but inferior to possible future methods that will allow single-person targeting. Such as the machines I wrote about in another post.
Killing innocent people with drones is morally wrong.
Targeting innocent people is morally wrong. Killing the enemy who chooses to use innocent people as their human shield is the responsibility of the enemy, not those trying to stop the enemy from harming other innocent people. Steps should be taken to avoid killing innocent civilians, but not at the expense of putting our military in significant danger. The rules of engagement that prissy civilians who want to be protected (regardless of how the lie to themselves and others) but are unwilling to recognize the realities of such are a serious danger. The moral absolutism (posturing, really) that recoils in horror at accidentally killing even one innocent civilian support are behind much of the mental anguish and stress that our military personnel, especially our ground troops, are suffering from. Either accept it is going to happen or surrender. That is reality.
how many civilian deaths are morally acceptable in order to achieve a military goal
Depends on the enemy, their tactics, their objectives and what it will take to stop them. So long as the main objective is killing enemy combatants, to try to apply civil morality to war is absurd and does moral damage to those who are tasked with fighting the war. If the enemy is not worth killing in the first place, then the war itself is not justifiable. You win a war by killing as many of the enemy as it takes until the enemy (or the enemies that are left) decide to stop fighting.
Such as the machines I wrote about in another post. Yes, the machines will save us. The tools of today are far superior to the tools of the past, yet every advancement made in an effort to address the moral preening of so many progressives which is absolutely nauseating continues. The tools of the future will still have flaws. But far more dangerous than the flaws of those tools are the flaws of people who refuse to acknowledge reality. Again, the Gods of the Copybook Headings are not swayed by the dreams of fools.
damn…reading over that again the first paragraph is absolute crap. Let me restate:
Targeting innocent people is morally wrong. When an enemy chooses to use innocent people as their human shields, the deaths of innocents used in such a manner is the responsibility of the enemy, not those trying to stop the enemy from harming other innocent people. Steps should be taken to avoid killing innocent civilians, but not at the expense of putting our military in significant danger. The rules of engagement demanded by prissy civilians who want to be protected from the enemy (regardless of how the lie to themselves and others) but are unwilling to recognize the realities of such in war are a serious danger. The moral absolutism (posturing, really) that causes them to recoil in horror at accidentally killing even one innocent civilian is behind much of the mental anguish and stress that our military personnel, especially our ground troops, are suffering from. Either accept it is going to happen or surrender. That is reality.
Rooster, the military gives medals for all kids of reasons–most have nothing to do with bravery.
My uncle (and namesake) a wing commander in WW2 was killed on his last scheduled run and all he ended up with(posthumously) was the DFC and a couple of service medals for showing up.
Different generation I suppose, where every child *didn’t* necessarily win a prize…lol
Michael LaBossiere says
While the drone pilots are not at risk, they often suffer a significant emotional impact from missions. Apparently, a drone operator will observe targets for quite some time, then hit them, then have to assess the damage. So, they often get to see the targets as actual people and then see their shredded bodies. That is probably rough on any sane human, even if the target needs to be killed. While pilots are at risk, they generally do not see the grisly details of their work.
Medals for being at risk would not be appropriate, but medals for doing the task well certainly would be.
Solution is simple, they need more psychopaths instead of wusses(AKA normal humans). Simply put an ad in the paper saying psychopaths wanted, must enjoy online 1st person shooter games and torturing small animals…will train for job.
See, all sorted. Can I have my industrialmilgovcorp consultants fee now, please?
Michael LaBossiere says
While a case can be made for psychopaths in some roles (think of the legendary Berserker), they would seem to make poor professional soldiers. Part of what makes a force effective is discipline and part of what makes a military unit different from a bloodthirsty horde is restraint.
The majority of drone body count stats come from Pakistani media. Believe those if you will.
That said, i’m for stopping the drone campaign. We can only know the reality of the matter when we can empirically see what happens when it stops. We can’t beat a global insurgency with drones alone, anyway. In any case, around the world, states are fighting 4th Generation insurgencies. The states are losing in almost every case. Europe’s not far down the road. The mass immigration that I predicted from Africa into Europe has already begun. As I wrote almost 5 years ago: https://soldiercitizen.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/the-coming-anarchy-has-arrived/
Boko Haram, Islamic State, Hezbollah, Russian separatists, the Taliban, al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda…here in the Philippines it’s the communist New People’s Army and Bangsmoro Islamic Freedom Fighters that are gaining strength after a century of fighting with the government. And we’re removing our Special Operations here. Yemen, overrun by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels…we’re losing. Islamic State now controls 50% of Syria and 30% of Iraq. There is not a single state in the Middle east that can stop these insurgencies. Iraq is armed with some of America’s most advanced weaponry, including M1 Abrams main battle tanks. They were being overrun before the US started bombing. Iraq now is barely surviving.
The real question in the future will not be of splitting-hair moralities and legalities. For many, it will be a question of survival itself.
It’s all going to plan then…..destabilize the ME and flood Europe with muzzies and africans, the US with hispanics and here in Australia muzzies and africans.
It would have been much better to leave Saddam and Gaddhafi where they were. Saddam had to go of course because the jews wanted him gone so they got good ole Uncle Sam to do the job for them. Gaddhafi had to go with his talk of a gold backed Dinar…..can’t have that no way.
As for ISIS, WTF? Who is backing them? Saudis? Israel? The US? It seems so…but tell me it ain’t so
“Iraq now is barely surviving. ”
You must mean Iraq as an abstraction created by the western victors in the aftermath of the great war from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Why would you, or anyone else, care if a phony amalgamation of opposing tribes continues? There’s no more Assyrians, no more Babylonians, no more Sumerians, why aren’t we lamenting their demises? There’s evidently an incredible desire for the status quo among some but not all. Some want things to be their own way rather than that they’ve been experiencing. Such is the course of human history. There’s probably lots of Kurds that welcome the disappearance of Iraq as an entity from the world stage. They can take care of themselves, too.
“You must mean Iraq as an abstraction created by the western victors in the aftermath of the great war from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire.”
Everything is an abstraction at some point.
“There’s no more Assyrians, no more Babylonians, no more Sumerians, why aren’t we lamenting their demises? ”
Because nobody cares. I don’t and I don’t care about all the other cultures that have bit the dust. As harsh as that sounds 99.99999% of people think the same. And no one will care about us when we pass from the scene either.
“There’s probably lots of Kurds that welcome the disappearance of Iraq as an entity from the world stage. They can take care of themselves, too.”
I am sure they can take care of themselves too since they have some oilfields. They won’t be allowed to though as that will set off calls for Kurdish independence in Turkey. Turkey =NATO.and so will not allow it to happen. ‘Arab Spring’……..only in selected countries and against selected regimes lol.
I am certainly not against secession, rather the what appears to be deliberate destruction and manipulation of a(somewhat) functioning state by outside players for reasons that we can only speculate about. ISIS are no replacement for anything, regardless of their provenance.
No, not everything is an abstraction at some point. A 5.56x45mm round is not an abstraction, nor is the hole it creates in its recipient.
Yeah, nobody cares about the failure of the Sumerians. Just like in a relatively short period of time nobody will care about the bogus state of Iraq passing from the scene. So why are some people worried about it now? Iraq, Jordan, Syria, etc. were created by outside players, which is the problem. Not being a resident of Iraq or anywhere nearby, I’m more interested in resolving local issues.
Michael LaBossiere says
In general, we cannot kill our way out of political and social problems. Unless, of course we kill everyone.
Well, there is a military problem too. Social workers won’t beat ISIS either.
Michael LaBossiere says
Well, yes. Killing people can be effective, but we won’t win the war on terror just by killing people. Unless we kill them all. Then the war is over.
T. J. Babson says
Isn’t the idea to break the enemy’s will to fight? Are we even trying to do that?
Michael LaBossiere says
The drone strikes and other counter-terrorism operations are presumably aimed at that.
What about on the propaganda side? What are we doing to combat their ideology?
We believe our own propaganda: ie: We’re winning in Afghanistan. BTW, 2000 Taliban insurgents killed 500 Afghan security personnel last week and now control large portions of a northern province. The insurgency has now morphed in to Mao’s third stage of guerrilla warfare: Conventional massing of guerrilla fighters. As an analyst, I would look for the massing of 40-50 fighters as indication of problems within a geographical area during my deployments. If they massed 2000, the war is over. Guerrilla warfare wins again against trillion dollar state funded war machines.
We have to ask ourselves, what are we doing wrong? What kind of revolution in military affairs must happen before we can win? The current military culture and training system needs a giant flush, like the Germans did after WWI. We are the world’s last hope. And the future does not look bright.
Is ISIS real or just a bogeyman du jour? Whose interests are they serving?
Same goes for Al Qaeda, they were on our side in Kosovo/Bosnia, and were supplied by NATO in Libya. OK there was that unfortunate incident in Manhatten but all seems to have been forgiven by the time they got to Libya…..
So, do you believe that there are any hidden ties between western(or any other major power for that matter) and terrorist groups. Just so I know who is who……
I believe that Islamic State is exactly who they claim to be: An Islamist state built by former Baathists and whom hate America and the Shia. The game gets very complex becaue some enemies will ally to fight common enemies. I’ll write more on my blog when I return home.
What feel good BS this is. Everyone says so, so it must be true.
“Unless we kill everyone”. Did we kill EVERYONE in the Civil War? Did Alexander the Great kill EVERYONE? Did the ancient Egyptians kill EVERYONE? Did we kill EVERYONE in Japan, Germany, and Italy? This isn’t a moral question. Successful societies, every last damn one of them, throughout history, have become successful by being more in tune with reality than the societies around them. As a result they have always been wealthier and thus in conflict with those around them. Some have forced themselves on others, some have had others invite them in then had those inviting them turn coat, others as a result of creating wealth and became tempting targets and thus been invaded and conquered due to their failure to recognize threats and prepare themselves to deal with those threats. What is true in the raw animal world does not cease to be true because philosophers don’t like it. Success is not dependent upon killing EVERYONE. But it does depend on killing those who desire to kill you. Fail to kill those who vow to kill you and you will die. This is life. This is reality. You don’t like it. Too bad.
You know who is content to kill EVRYONE? ISIS is cool with that. Nazis were cool with that. Mao was cool with that. Societies that don’t know how to produce wealth must take it from wealth producers. And once they run out of other people’s wealth, they go hunting for more. Until someone stops them. And such tyrants do not stop until they are killed. Thus it always has been, thus it always will be. Wealth producing societies must always be vigilant. The founding fathers tried to instill this in our constitution. It is our eternal shame to fail them.
If my numbers are right, we destroyed 71 German divisions in WWII. Intellectuals, including conservative ones, have been trying to say that counter -insurgency is not about killing. The problem with that argument is that by historical standards we arent doing much killing. The problem in insurgency is finding enemy, especially in modern times where individual power is increased by technology.
Exactly. Wars are fought between the ears. This CAN be done with ideas. But mostly it is done by killing enough of the enemy such that you weed out the most evil ones, leaving those who are not willing to follow that same path and thus pacifying them. You can’t kill everyone, nor should that be the goal of war. But that is how war is. It is dirty, nasty business. As William T. Sherman said, there is no use in reforming it. It is hell. And the sooner it is over, the better for all involved. Which is why a nation must always remain strong and to be perceived as such. Prepare for war and you will have peace.
Michael LaBossiere says
Counterinsurgency is mainly about breaking the support of the enemy, then breaking his will to fight. Killing can be an important part of eliminating support and breaking the will. But, it is morally preferable to avoid killing people.
Heh. Now Mike’s an expert on counter insurgency and how to deal with such. Never mind that even the “genius” of Pershing was a trial and error effort, sometimes utilizing tactics similar to good cop/ bad cop, or cutting off the head of the snake, or yadda-yadda-yadda. An aside, it’s amusing studying such to see how tactics are taken interpreted by whomever favoring whatever and coming to the conclusion whomever the interpreter wished to come to with 20/20 hindsight. And none of those old tactics can effectively be tried and analyzed for the current situation because even military philosophers have no clue. The enemy is constantly changing HIS tactics. He will always change his tactics to survive. If he didn’t, he’d already be dead. He has no rules he lives by. If we are static in our approach because of some bullshit that was studied at West Point or Annapolis or Langley or (God forbid) Washington by “smart” tactical philosophers who think they know WTF is going on in the field, we are as doomed as the Germans at Normandy. There is no one way to fight a war. There is though, one objective that has proven to work. That is to make the enemy pay a heavy price and undermine his morale faster than the cowards back home are undermining yours.
“The founding fathers tried to instill this in our constitution. It is our eternal shame to fail them.”
They also warned about foreign alliances and entanglements too. Smart people were your founding fathers.
T. J. Babson says
Could this be the best tweet ever?
Dear Professors: You can’t do trigger warnings, cancel events b/c people get upset, then sell the humanities as teaching “critical thinking”
I’d say it’s a tie with this one:
That’s what the Army says, too.
Speaking of insurgencies. http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/04/25/1000-black-baltimore-rioters-smash-police-cars-in-frenzied-protest/
It’s difficult to tell from the news, but Gray received medical care in about an hour after his arrest.
More in line with my experience:
“As a further safeguard, each strike is approved by either CIA director Leon Panetta or his deputy, Michael Morell, the official said. The CIA since mid-2008 has executed about 200 strikes, killing roughly 1,300 militants and 30 non-combatants, the official said.”
Furthermore, as of this report there were no civilian deaths after 2010. Newer drones fire much smaller munitions and targeting is done differently.
As Van Cleveled stated, though, when the strong fight the weak, the strong can never gain the political upper hand: if the strong wins it’s “so what, they should win”, if they don’t it strengthens the weak. Plus, when the strong fights the weak, it always looks like cruelty. Like a cat with a mouse, per Van Creveld.
Not having deeply studied COIN myself, mostly what I know is limited to Black Jack Pershing in the Philippines and some Viet Nam observations mostly in relation to Tet. So I made a cursory perusal of the Wiki on such before my post above. I was quite disgusted with what I saw. Given that sensitive Wiki subjects are under the watchful eye of mostly leftists and other such fools, this didn’t surprise me and thus I gave up before I got down to Van Creveld. But what really starched my shorts was the David Kilcullen piece with the ubiquitous “temple” diagram. Amazing to me how often that useless BS diagram shows up in business, technical, engineering, economic, etc. etc. etc. documentation. Every time, it has been the sign of a BS philosophy that never filters down in a practical manner to the people who have to do the actual work.
How much of this crap do they force you guys to buy into? Is it presented as background or do they require intense study of such (presuming you feel comfortable relating this info)?
Oh yeah, and meant to add…The name Pershing does not appear anywhere in that Wiki page. I find that rather odd, no matter what side one comes down on regarding his efforts in such.
They force almost all of the crap on us. The more PC the better. The Army’s COIN manual cherry-picked insurgencies as models to study, the British in Malaya being rolled out over and over because it is one case in which a softer touch worked. In almost all other cases it did not.
Mark my word, we won’t beat the Russians, IS or anyone else food or a long time. Killcullen by the way is considered the god of COIN most American general officers. I’ve tried to explain how bad things are, but no one listens. They just look at force ratios and firepower advantages that the US has and claim that’s proof we’re better.
We won’t decisively win in my lifetime. I stand by that assessment. The world’s in trouble because of that fact.
The end is altready near after us leaving Afrghanistan. As predicted. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/04/taliban-launch-offensive-in-northern-afghan-province.php
And get ready for the new Dark Ages.
“Major factors driving for the poor ratings are consistent understaffing and equipment shortages, said Index Editor Dakota Wood. In 2014, the Army and Marines were only able to field 76 percent and 69 percent of necessary forces, respectively. Likewise, the Navy consistently had fewer ships than are needed. The Air Force, meanwhile, operated at 92 percent of capacity requirements. ”
Crickets from the media on this, while their man’s in office.
Kendall Jenner’s Calvin Klein billboard was vandalized via drone. Check out the video from the graffiti artist: http://on.wcvb.com/1EC9QMB
Michael LaBossiere says
Can a Calvin Klein billboard really be vandalized? Can it not just be improved? 🙂