The United States Navy gloated yesterday over the first successful landing of a drone aircraft onto the deck of an aircraft carrier. The Vice-Admiral in charge boasted "history" that our children and grandchildren and grandchildren would mention, had been made.
I would say there should be no boasting. I would agree with the last part, but for different reasons than the Rear Admiral.
Warfare advances technology. Sometimes those advancements are good. Many times they are not. We have improvements in commercial air flight, storage of food for long periods, medical care as to the former. As for the latter, we have poison gas, machine guns (thought by Gatlin, the originator of the Gatlin gun, to bring such horror that it would end war; that prophecy was a bit off), and, of course, The Bomb. One may argue the pros and cons of atomic weaponry, but its proliferation cannot seriously be debated. That eventually a power-hungry megalomaniac will have control of such devices should scare the hell out of everyone. Wait---how many countries aren't run by power-hungry megalomaniacs?
Drone warfare was envisioned a long time ago. The primary development/deployment of drones came during the administration of President George W. Bush. The use of drones during the administration of President Barack Obama leads one to believe that someone has taken up with Barry Bonds's former steroid supplier.
One statistic that slaps us in the face is the two percent (2%)---as in two (2) out of every one hundred (100)---success rate of drones hitting their intended targets. As I have written before in this blog, I cannot think of an examination in any school in which two percent (2%) passes as a grade. The "best" accuracy of which I have read is twenty percent (20%). If the reader remembers any test she or he passed in any institution with that as a grade, please let me know.
The problem is compounded when one realizes the other ninety-eight percent (98%) out there is not dead space or empty ground. The drone misses whomever it was intended to hit and, instead, blows up a field or the side of a hill. So-called collateral damage means innocent people are killed. One may espouse the great strides we have made with drones, but they have really hurt us in the eyes of The World. That is not good. That means more people want to do ill toward the United States and our citizens, here or if we travel abroad.
This latest development is the biggest step toward elimination of human pilots in fighter aircraft. Human beings have a difficult time with nine (9) Gs of force when they turn an aircraft at high speed in a tight turn. Drones don't carry people. Also, of all the flight maneuvers of aircraft, to land on an aircraft carrier---to place the craft onto the pitching deck of a ship at sea with wind conditions usually brisk, to state the matter mildly---is one of the, if not the, most difficult. For the Navy to have developed this aircraft, a model much larger than the drones now deployed by the United States, is scary. In the item in Yahoo! the United States Navy spokesperson spoke---favorably---of how the new drone plane will eliminate human intervention in the aircraft's operation. Also, the design is on-track to be of a "stealth" type.
The more "human intervention" is eliminated, the more human accountability is eliminated. The Constitution requires an act of Congress to wage warfare. If we let machines make decisions for us, then the machines are responsible for the deaths that result, not the people who issue the orders. At least that's how people who participated in the Milgram Study in the 1960s seemed to push off personal responsibility for acts ordered by others. Give people a few gadgets---machines kill people, people don't kill people---and you have carnage of the same type as a scene from one of any of several dozen sci-fi flicks or TV series.
The last part that REALLY bothers me is that our computers are hacked. All of our computers---even those used for design of new weapons systems---are hacked. The designs of these aircraft have been paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The benefits might go to---let's see, what countries DON'T have hackers? Drones are relatively cheap, compared to traditional fighter aircraft. Eliminate pilots and one eliminates the need for accommodation in design for human beings. One also eliminates the need to train all those pilots.
Yesterday might go down in history and be remembered in 100 years for what it was---a terrible day. Perhaps there is a Sarah Conner today whose son will combat Cyborgs that look like the former governor of California. Otherwise, these ill-conceived plans move ahead---under President Obama as they would have under President Bush and as they will, in all likelihood, under another President Bush or Clinton (who says we don't have dynastic rule in this country?) Now they won't have to screw around with training humans. Fewer kids will get military benefits to go to college because fewer in the military are needed.
This no longer is the land of the free, for many reasons. Now it is becoming the Land of the Machine.