Rand Paul’s epic filibuster last week brought much needed attention to the government’s use of drones in targeted killings. But as Jerry Brito observes, it also created the danger that the public will only see drones in this negative light. Unmanned aerial vehicles and other autonomous systems are neutral technologies that can be put to good uses as well as bad ones. Farmers, for instance, currently use drones not only to spray their crops, but also to monitor soil patterns, reducing the amount of chemicals and water they use. Photographers and filmmakers, meanwhile, can now easily get aerial shots that previously required expensive manned helicopters or airplanes. And heavy industry uses drones to inspect pipelines or otherwise take a peek wherever else it’s too dangerous to send a human. While it’s right to worry about government abuse of drones, Brito says, we should also remember not to discourage the adoption of drones for wholly beneficial purposes.
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