Unmanned Drones

Saw this the other day on the web, thought it would be very interesting to talk about.

Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle also known as a drone that has no on board human pilot. They are usually under real-time human control. Stuffs that would be required for a human on board would not be needed for the drone. This would reduce weight for the drone and would require less motor power.

Drones can be used to hold strikes on other countries without the possibility of losing allies’ human lives when shot down. These drones can be used to kill enemy armies, buildings, and even civilian.

This raises a lot of ethical concern. What if a drone kills a lot of innocent people in places like Afghanistan. Who is at fault? the commander of the soldier? the soldier? the army? the government? “it takes a team of about 180 to run and service a Predator”

Who do you think is at blame?

8 Responses to Unmanned Drones

  1. I think Drones are great weapon for war because like you said it can save human lives when shot down, and i think no one need to be blame here because we do whatever we could to stop our enemy and prevent the dangerous for our soldiers as much as we can right? but i think they need to be very careful before every execution not to strike on innocent people. There is one concern that many people talk about and i am always curious about is that how is the person that do the execution feel after they kill someone thousand miles away, and the worst is what if they kill innocent people like you mention above by a mistake? on the way home, they will be thinking like “I just killed some innocent people”. Ultimately, i think Drones are good, the only bad thing is if we use them wrong because killing innocent people on a screen of a computer like a video game is the worst, and that will live with us for a very long time.

  2. Unmanned drones are extraordinarily useful for our military, and they allow missions to be carried out with minimal risk to personnel. This is an obviously good thing for our military – but is the use of these drones ethical? The question of morality in this situation is really a complex and difficult one to answer. Is war ethical? Under what circumstances is it acceptable to take the life of an enemy? These questions, while different than the first one, are essentially the same question. What is the difference between using a drone or using a gun to kill someone? The only difference is there is less risk to the operator of the weapon. If we accept that premise, then using drones is the morally right thing to do, as the end result is the same (Destruction of enemy assets/personnel) but less lives are put at risk. Now, who exactly is responsible in the case of an accident? The operator certainly has some of the fault, but what if the operator was given incorrect information? The argument could be made that the person responsible for supplying the information is at fault then, but what if they genuinely thought the information was correct? This puts in a real gray area, and we can make moral evaluations, but ultimately the idea of war itself is amoral. War is essentially harming the interests of a people so that you and your allies can satisfy your own interests. Then, if we only apply morality to ourselves and our allies, then it doesn’t matter what weapon we use against our enemies. That’s not correct either though, because we have things like the Geneva Convention that apply a sort of partial morality to the business of warfare. Ultimately, I feel like these drones are useful for our military – but the question of “are they ethical?” is more of a question about the ethics of warfare, as they are just another tool used to conduct warfare.

  3. While I agree that using an unmanned drone is “better” because it keeps allied soldiers out of the danger zone, I think that the main ethical concerns are not regarding that fact itself. I think the major criticisms with the US drone usage is simply the fact that civilians can and are often killed. I don’t think many serious criticisms of the drone program are arguing that killing 100 innocent people with a drone is somehow ethically worse than killing 100 innocent people with a manned plane. Criticisms of the drone program would still exist if, for whatever reason, the US replaced their drone strikes with bombings from manned planes, helicopter strikes, etc. The issue is, and always will be, the killing of innocents/civilians.

    As with most large explosive weaponry, the amount of collateral damage is incredibly high. If, instead of using drone strikes, the US sent foot soldiers to attack key targets, yes the amount of allied casualties would increase, but the amount of innocent bystander casualties would decrease. As with any type of bombing attack (manned or otherwise), the attacker has very little control over the exact location and recipient of the damage. This is the major criticism of drones, not their “unmanned” nature.

  4. I think that the commander of the soldier and the government is to blame. These drones are very expensive and very high tech so the chances of them malfunctioning are very low. Therefore, all actions that are followed through this drone is fully controlled and intentional. If there are attacks on innocent human beings then there weren’t any accidents. If there are any incidents that this happens then the consequences would fall back on the people who orchestrated it. There are other situations like this where the people who follow through with the actions get all the blame.

    There isn’t a difference between someone shooting an innocent person and a human controlled drone shooting someone. If someone decides to shoot innocent people in a foreign place or even at home, then they become fully responsible. This is the same case for the drones. The government has to give authorization for any actions that go into the possible result of death and destruction from the action of soldiers or drones. So, full responsibility for any actions from drones or soldiers will fall back on the government and the army leaders that authorize the actions.

  5. I think the idea itself without the capabilities of carrying weapons is a great idea and can be helpful in various ways as you briefly mentioned in your post!

    However, I see some problem with this idea to be used in the military fashion. One of the main issues that I see with this particular strategy is the “inhuman” way tat they can be envisioned. For example, the fact that there is no human in the vehicle, there is a lot more that can be done by the “pilot”. This is due to the fact that he is not scared of his/her life being taken away anymore, so he/she might take much higher risks.

    It is not like there is not down side to the pilots or other people operating it. As there are some of them mentioned in this article from Cracked. A lot of people tend to compare the act of the pilot driving the drone with kids playing video games which is not right. There is a lot more that goes into taking one of these drones in the air. There are extensive training, there are degrading on failure, and much more to it than just a video game.

    With all this being said, I think it would be the general commander or the person in charge of operations fault. Because by doing this, he is putting in danger innocent peoples’ lives and the also putting in danger the lives of the people who are operating the machines.

  6. I, like most others think the commander of an operation is the person ultimately at fault when civilians are harmed by drone strikes. The decision rests squarely on their shoulders, and few other people have real influence on whether or not a strike takes place. The drone maintenance team can hardly be blamed for any deaths as we don’t blame the maintenance teams for manned aircraft. Pilots of manned air craft are occasionally blamed for friendly fire and civilian casualties. It seems like those instances usually arise from causes where the pilots made a significant error in either judgment or execution directly resulting in harm to peoples other than enemy combatants. It’s possible for drone pilots to make similar mistakes. In fact it seems much more likely due to the nature of drones. Being thousands of miles of way with limited information could definitely lead to increased mistakes. In these instances, where pilot, or operator, error is the cause of casualties they should bear most of the blame. It seems like the situations between manned and unmanned attacks are very similar. Excluding the fact that the commander of the drone operator is looking over his shoulder, while the commander of a pilot is back at an airfield or a ship. Perhaps this close proximity and the authority position of a CO places more responsibility on the Commanding officer of a drone operator.

  7. The ethics of unmanned, remote controlled drones actually aren’t that different from those of piloted military aircraft. For a traditional airplane, the pilot sits in the plane and controls it. In an unmanned drone, a pilot sits in a military base and remotely controls the aircraft. The only difference here is where the pilot is piloting the aircraft. So, the process of determining whose fault it is when a drone shoots a civilian or a friendly soldier is exactly the same as the process of doing so for a traditional fighter airplane. If the pilot accidentally pulls the trigger, it is the pilots fault. If the commander of the pilot gave a bad order, then it is the commander’s fault. As for the unmanned drone taking a lot of people to service, I’m pretty sure this is also true about traditional aircraft. A traditional fighter jet will also take many people to service and operate.

    However, things are not so clear-cut when it comes to autonomous unmanned drones. These are being developed because remote controlled drones like the ones described have controller input lag. This is because the satellites which relay information from the drone to the remote pilot are really far away in space, so the “ping” is very high. This can lead to a lot of problems for these remote control drones. In response, fully autonomous drones are being developed. These drones may someday decide whether to shoot a target on their own. In this case, if an autonomous drone shoots a civilian or a friendly soldier, the fault lies in the engineers who made the drone’s targeting software and its sensors.

  8. I think that the operator and the commanding officer should be held accountable for the actions of the drone. The officer gave the orders and the operator carried them out. Just because the tool used to carry out the mission was a drone doesn’t change who performed the task. The operator still has to make the decision to fire the gun, and the officer should take responsibility for those acting under his orders.

    In the case of the autonomous drones, I think that the commanding officer and engineers would be held accountable. The officer should know what the drones are capable of and when/where he should or should not use the drones. If the area has a lot of civilians, then perhaps there are better options than the autonomous drone. If an innocent person is killed, then it could also be a problem with the software, which would fall engineer. Maybe the engineer assumed that anything moving towards the drone is an enemy. There are a lot of things that would have to be taken into account when programing the drone, but ultimately some of the responsibility would still be the engineers.