According to this report in the Grand Forks Herald the proponents of the coming drone mission in North Dakota – state political leaders and the University of North Dakota have teamed up to push the state as a sort of national testing grounds for them – want you to stop calling the unmanned flying objects drones.
And they’re not that fond of the term “unmanned aerial vehicle” either.
“Don’t call them ‘drones,’” University of North Dakota unmanned aircraft systems student Andrew Regenhard was quoted as saying at the Unmanned Aircraft Action Summit in the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. “When I think of drones, I think of ‘The Terminator,’ where killer drones take over the world and have a mind of their own.”
“It has taken on a persona that is dark,” he said. “People see that and associate all unmanned aircraft with those that can kill,” UND professor Benjamin Trapnell was also quoted as saying.
Really, can you blame people for only seeing the darker side of drones? The state’s politicians, university bureaucrats and economic development cronies are positively giddy at the idea of all the activity corporate giants like Northrup Gruman will bring to North Dakota, but as with any new technology there are reasons to be skeptical of the drone use by the government.
The cause of the pro-drone folks might have been helped a little bit had they not battled so hard during the legislation session to kill common sense legislation which would have created legal standards to the use of drones for police surveillance. The proponents of drones in North Dakota fought off a bill requiring that police get a warrant to use them to spy on us, and we’re not supposed to think of drones of being dark?
And then there was the national spectacle that involved drones, wherein it took nothing short of a filibuster in the US Senate to get President Obama to admit that killing Americans with drone strikes in America was probably not legal.
Mr. Regenhard suggests that we not use the word “drones” because it is reminiscent of movies about dystopian futures in which robotic weapons are used to evil ends. I suggest we keep using the term drones, to remind us that while this technology may be marvelous and could be used in our society in any number of useful and beneficial ways, the potential for the ill-use of this technology is very, very real.