By SATHVIK RAVI
The year is 2020. Imagine a perfectly crisp blue sky, blotted out only by hordes of drones and the parcels they tightly clasp. One drone detaches itself from the swarm, lands in front of a small, comely house, and drops a cardboard package onto the ground. A small camera juts out from the drone to collect data, and then it takes off as silently as it arrived. This fictional scene might soon become a reality, as Amazon has recently publicized its desire to develop a drone shipping system with Amazon Prime Air. With the mass production of drones, the company hopes to cut the delivery time of products down to 30 minutes. However, the aspirations of humans to expand our technological limits has almost blinded us from the simple facts. Though they replace manual delivery, drones are susceptible to malfunctions and external sabotage. Instead of relying on man-made trustworthiness and labor, we would be relying on unpredictable technology with potential to be manipulated by special interests. With no preparation or protection against these machines, drones could compromise the integrity, security, and welfare of countless Americans.
The drone is a highly advanced machine that is capable of producing high-resolution images from astounding heights. This ability renders the efforts of Americans to ensure their privacy with fences and other security measures obsolete. Understanding the potential of abuse in using such drones to collect private data (especially the potential for hackers and special interests to control these machines), other countries have given this pitfall a wide berth and will witness the progressive downfall of this eventual disaster. Information, whether it be U.S. government secrets or bank account credentials, is now in even greater danger of exposure, exceeding the risks created by the advent of the computer. Though domestic predators can be restrained physically by courts, they are nonetheless armed with the tools for breaching the safety and privacy of individual American families. The dissolution of the sanctuary that this country has provided will destroy the standards of privacy that this nation is based on.
With the impending era of drones upon us, we must take into account how drones will affect public safety. As much as we believe in human ingenuity and engineering, no one fully understands what the idea of “drones” will become. We do not know how these drones will avoid obstacles or how a server-based code can control them, especially over a considerable distance. Weight capacity, for one, has been an important topic of debate in inner circles. Drones will be designed to maximize profits, but to what extent can government regulation promote safety? Drones that cannot handle extensive weight can drop their packages, resulting in projectiles that could be injurious or even fatal. We also cannot predict the stability of the programs that will be used by Amazon. Since these machines are all computer-driven, who can say with assurance that the central system can sustain the memory usage of mass amounts of flying drones? Malfunctions in a server could potentially be devastating, as this would mean entire swarms of drones malfunctioning or shutting down. When considering the volatility of drone technology, the physical dangers of drones are not outside the realm of possibility.
In addition to being a security and privacy issue, drones have become a constitutional concern. Their capabilities of being able to fly anywhere and take pictures facilitates violations of the Fourth Amendment, which maintains the American right to privacy. With drones, stalkers, hackers, or even otherwise trustworthy figures such as government officials or police can easily utilize the drone’s high-tech cameras to peek right over your backyard fence. With no warning, officials can keep close tabs on any citizen. However, it is the government’s constitutional duty to battle corporations and special interest groups intruding on American citizens’ rights. If the government was not involved, morals and standards that have held America up for 300 years would begin to disappear.
Regardless, the federal government will have to make significant decisions regarding the upcoming future of drones. It is the duty of the American federal government to provide security and to protect the sanctity of American citizens. The mass proliferation of unmanned drones can, and will, endanger the safety of Americans now and for generations to come. As the future approaches, the feeling of safety and security associated with America will diminish due to the advent of drones.
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