Drones: A Threat For Civilians?

Drones (Unmanned Air Vehicles) for use against civilians – a serious threat?

Presenter: John Pope

April, 2013

Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) have been developed over the past 20 years (Canada has been a significant player) and have captured the imagination of many in the civilian population. In effect, these drones are the latest incarnation of the model remote controlled plane.




Over the last year or so, we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of drones, particularly by the US military, to kill selected overseas civilians identified as terrorist threats. Many ‘successful’ ‘kills’ have included many innocent people nearby. The advantage to the US is that drone use does not involve military personnel on-site; the operators sit securely in command centres somewhere ‘at home’ on US soil and essentially play video games.

US military use of drones has occurred in countries not at war with the US, but sheer military power has allowed their use to continue. Citizens of countries under attack suffer fear and intimidation every time they hear or see a drone. The use is currently very one-sided; e.g., their use in Pakistan:


Lately, American citizens have also come under fire offshore (Yemen). How long will it be before dissidents in the US will be targeted? How long will it be before other countries do the same?




Questions for Humanists:

1. Where is this all heading? From the viewpoint of Humanist principles, what direction should we be taking with this technology?

2. What are the dangers of its misuse?

3. What happens when other nations or international groups begin using the technology for their own ends, particularly when that use could easily be over Canadian territory in pursuit of Canadians?