While the typical narrative of how unmanned drones have affected warfare typically runs somewhere along the lines of “they’re soulless robots” or “they turn war into a video game” (promoting human detachment), William Saletan makes the opposite argument, based on a handful of reports: “A drone pilot can think more clearly and at greater length before firing.”
It’s an interesting way to consider drone warfare: There’s more awareness of what’s happening on the ground, thanks to the drone’s advanced sensors, relatively long observation times and computer models showing potential effects of firing. Meanwhile, the drone pilots are sitting far, far away in an environment that’s way less stressful than a jet cockpit, so they can make better decisions. Moreover, there’s around 180 people that are involved in every drone mission, so there’s a lot of people thinking about whether or not to fire.
The trick, says Saletan, is to make sure that level of human oversight isn’t replaced, which would turn drones into the soulless killing robots people are afraid they might be. [Slate]