How drones deceive us
In the brave new world of technologized warfare, every week seems to bring a new sci-fi-movie-worthy revelation about America's ongoing drone operations. This past week was no exception. From the lawyer who first outlined White House policy on drone attacks, we learned that the government is likely using such attacks instead of capturing alleged terrorists, all to avoid the thorny legal issues that come with prisoner detainment. From the United Nations, we learned that the world may be closer to seeing its first self-directed Terminator-style killing machines - technically called "Lethal Autonomous Robots" - than many may have previously thought.
These kind of stories will continue for one big, if unstated, reason: robotic warfare seems to hold the promise of making many things easier, cheaper and less risky, at least for the countries that operate the drones. But the operative word is "seems," for drones involve a problematic illusion that distorts our perception of the risks we face.