A drone is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. It’s mostly controlled by computers autonomously or by remote controls held by a pilot on the ground or in some other vehicle.
While in some countries the concept is deemed progressive and is bringing about a lot of positive changes in the fields of security, business and science et cetera, the same technology is haunting the lives and dreams of many in other parts of the world.
In fact, the use of these unmanned aircrafts (UAVs) or gadgets is redefining the world on the basis of its usage, dividing it into two halves: countries which use, operate and control the drones, and the ones that fear it because they are the ones being targeted.
Here’s how it works:
The Eastern Connotation:
A majority of countries being “victimized” by these UAVs are in the eastern part of the world so we can safely say that this region holds more of a negative connotation of the drone.
Nabila Rehman, 9, holds up a picture she drew depicting the US drone strike on her Pakistan village which killed her grandmother – Reuters
In countries like Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, the first and foremost word that accompanies drone is death.
Although the drone program by the United States government was started off as a part of its defense policy against terrorism, it soon became controversial status due to the increasing death toll of civilians dying as a result of air strikes.
“In 2013, drone attacks accounted for 40% of the total number of civilian fatalities from air strikes. There were 45 civilian fatalities and 14 non-fatal injuries, a threefold increase compared with 2012,” The Guardian reported in March this year.
Boys gather near the wreckage of a car destroyed in 2012 by a U.S. drone air strike targeting suspected al Qaeda militants in Azan, in the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa – Reuters
The word associated with drones in the east – after death – is destruction.
“Living Under Drones" is a study by Stanford and New York Universities’ law professors, based on public data and interviews with civilians, witnesses and survivors of drone attacks in northwest Pakistan.
There are multiple harrowing accounts from civilians and survivors included by this study help us to understand the extent of psychological and infrastructural damage that military drones have done to these people and their livelihoods.
The following excerpt is from one of the victims’ stories on Living Under Drones’ website:
“Sadaullah Wazir, teenager, former student from the village of Machi Khel in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, was severely injured in a September 2009 drone strike on his grandfather’s home. Sadaullah has filed a complaint before the UN Human Rights Council.”
“Sadaullah lost both of his legs and one of his eyes in the attack. He informed us, “Before [the strike], my life was normal and very good because I could go anywhere and do anything. But now I am not able to do that because I have to stay inside. . . . Sometimes I have really bad headaches. . . . [and] if I walk too much [on my prosthetic legs], my legs hurt a lot. [Drones have] drastically affected life [in our area].”
“This next phase of drone warfare is focused more on spying than killing and will extend the Pentagon’s robust surveillance networks far beyond traditional, declared combat zones,” a Washington Post report stated last July.
The third most common association with drones in the East is spying. In these areas, if an unmanned aircraft is not killing anyone or destroying anything, it’s definitely spying on a specific target.
The Western Connotation:
Although the positive usage of drones is not just exclusive to the West anymore, the idea of using these unmanned aerial vehicles for non-violent purposes originated from the developed nations of North America and Europe.
While invasion of privacy remains an issue even in the West, following are the ways drones are – or at least trying to – wash away their blood-stained image.
Apart from military, the police are using drones to strengthen ways to maintain law and order in their areas.
“You can’t just set up roadblocks and search everybody going to the marathon. You’re talking about a dense population; it’s as simple as crowd control. If you put in a drone, you can zero in a camera on a particular individual. The operator can directly contact the local sector sergeant and say, ‘move officers here,’” saidJoseph F. King while Boston was preparing for another marathon – a year after two explosions wreaked havoc in the city. He is a criminal justice professor at Manhattan’s John Jay College who has served as chief of the national security section in New York’s Department of Homeland Security office.
Images – for leisure:
According to The Daily Dot, “drones are the future of selfies.”
A growing trend among people who own aerial gadgets are now attaching cameras to these devices to take self-portraits or videos – which zre sort of like a “selfie”, only taken with the help of a drone-like device.
These selfies have even been given a name: dronies.
Following is an example of a dronie:
In December 2013, the DHL parcel service subsidiary of Deutsche Post AG tested a "microdrones md4-1000" for delivery of medicine – Wikimedia Commons
While – as we discussed in the first half of the article – drones bring death and destruction to some countries, the same vehicles are now being used to deliver goods to customers in the developed countries of the West and even the East.
For instance, just this week, an Indian restaurant made international headlines for using an aerial drone to deliver pizza.
However, the trend of delivery by drones gained worldwide attention for the very first time in December 2013, when on CBS 60 Minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the online retailer is working on developing drone technology to step up its delivery time – pushing Amazon ahead of the e-commerce race in which competitors like Ebay and so many others are struggling to get ahead.
Given the heated national debate about drones and the threat they pose to privacy, it will be interesting to see how delivery drones will be received by the general public.
You can now well understand how the usage of drones is defining regions based on their usage. While many suffer under their shadow, others take it as a symbol of progress and security.
The stark difference is more or less dividing our world into two different parts, or is, at least, in the process of doing so.