John Stossel on Embracing Civilian Drones



To some, the unmanned flying machines known as drones conjure up fears of spying and death from above. Which makes sense: President Bush approved the use of armed drones against suspected terrorists overseas, and President Obama vastly increased their use. Drones have killed thousands of people in places such as Pakistan and Yemen, countries against which we have not declared war.

The next controversy will center on the increasing use of "civilian" drones, writes John Stossel. But these are actually terrific devices, he argues. Vacationers use them to videotape family trips, farmers to check crops, police to search for missing people. Soon, most everyone might have one—if our too-big government doesn't try to quash this innovation. Technology itself is rarely a bad thing. What matters is the endless power of the market to refine and improve how we use it. 

NEXT: Googly-Eyed Santas, Rude Frogs, and Other Adventures in Beer Label Censorship

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  1. I envision a world where I can order beer and pizza to be delivered by high-speed drone to my moving, flying, AI-piloted car.

    1. I envision a world where I can order the sensations of beer and pizza to be beamed directly into my brain.

      1. There’s a high probability that you are in that world already. Welcome!

        1. Whoa!


        2. I need better sensations.

    2. I want to go to there.

  2. Some private person needs to send out a fleet of cop-watcher drones.

      1. effing pigs!

      2. “What concerns us is that they are filming over private property and it’s gated…

        Ummmmmm. Taxpayers paid for it. It’s not private property, it’s public. Fucking pigs.

  3. Drones have killed thousands

    Really, they’re sentient now? FFS, I appreciate the reporting on ‘drone’ killings and the lack of due process, violations of int’l sovereignty, etc on this site and elsewhere, but reason falls into the same trap as the rest of the media out there by speaking about these things as if they are either partially or fully autonomous. They are not…yet. Until then they are still a pilot and an airplane, just not occupying the same space. It’s still a person pulling the trigger and ‘killing thousands’. You could just as easily write an article about how ‘A-10s have killed thousands’ or the dangers of civilian manned news choppers, but somehow they’re just not as sensational.

    1. This is very long-winded pedantry.

  4. This fear of drones is perpetrated by the media and politicians because the people that run the media and the politicians are authoritarian dickfucks and can’t stand the thought of the government not having a monopoly on surveillance.

  5. So, how long until the idiots start up with “First you hate drones. Now you love ’em. Why can’t you make up your minds already?”?

    1. I like drones for both warfare and civilian use.

      With some kind of traffic control system in place, of course. Don’t want them constantly colliding over people’s heads.

      1. Easy – autonomous collision avoidance systems. They’re being developed for use in cars, adapting them to drones shouldn’t be insurmountable. It’s the cheapest and most effective option.

  6. Where’s the rest of the article?

    1. Shh… they’ll delete all the delicious comments if they notice and fix that.

  7. I think recreational ‘Robot Wars’ can be taken to a (literally) new level.

    Over/under on how long before we see folks doing drone fights (like fighting kites, without the string)?

    I want 10% for the idea – or at least free tickets…

    1. It’s like a video game with really good cutscenes.

  8. OT:

    Look at all these libertarians crossing the border:…..-protecti/

    I mean, they must be libertarians, right? They are undocumented immigrants, who are gay, and who want their gaiety recognized by the federal government. All we need is some pot, and we can round out the libertarian trifecta of Mexicans, ass sex, and pot.

    Turns out the avalanche of illegals IS bringing libertarians to our country. Take that, you racists!

    1. Are you sure they aren’t leftists? They are, after all, demanding state recognition and special treatment.

  9. Drones have killed thousands of people in places such as Pakistan and Yemen, countries against which we have not declared war.

    Is a declaration of war a legal document properly passed by Congress and titled “A Declaration Of War”? The Supreme Court has said that by passing a resolution authorizing the use of military force and further resolutions funding said use of force, Congress has more-or-less and close-enough Constitutionally issued a declaration of war. (See the Korean Police Action, the Vietnam Conflict, the Kinectic Military Action in Libya, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorism.)

    Just because we have declared war against the entire world (and have actually waged war against a statistically significant fraction of the world) but the rest of the world hasn’t actually acknowledged our declaration by fighting back doesn’t mean that we aren’t in the midst of WWIII.

    The UN, in denouncing the US use of drones as violations of territorial sovereignty, has admitted that the US is waging war but has asked the US (and other countries) to clarify the legal principles underlying the use of force in combatting terrorism. I may be paraphrasing here, but the official US response to the UN report was “FYTW”.

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