There’s a new report out that claims that “virtually every country on Earth will beable to build or acquire drones capable of firing missiles within the next ten years. Armed aerial drones will be used for targeted killings, terrorism and the government suppression of civil unrest. What’s worse, say experts, it’s too late for the United States to do anything about it.”
We will be told that the skies filled with drones will be for our own good. At first, the drones will only go after the bad guys, you know, “terrorists,” enemies of the State.
But what if the definition of enemies of the State changes and you and I are the targets?
If you want to see the horror of planned government salvation gone wrong, read Robert Sheckley’s 1955 short story Watchbird1 where winged metal protectors patrol the sky looking for the warning signs of a possible homicide and swoop in to stop the murder before it can happen.
This all sounds great until the Watchbirds view every act of violence as a violation of its programmed directive, including farmers who could not cut hay or harvest grain to feed their cattle, because such acts were deemed to be “murder.” The starvation that followed “didn’t concern the watchbirds, since it was an act of omission.”
For example, a sniper who is about to take out a man who is holding a gun to a woman’s head is killed by the Watchbird along with the kidnapper.
The film I, Robot (2004) tells the story of a society that has become dependent on robots. They are benevolent creations designed only to serve humans. But something goes terribly wrong. The super computer V.I.K.I. (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) takes the benevolence directive too far. The three laws that were designed to protect humans become an enemy to humans as VIKI evolves to believe that every threat, challenge, and risk that humans encounter are a danger to their survival. Benevolence becomes malevolent, all in the name of saving mankind from itself.
Near the end of the film, the reconfiguration of the three laws is revealed to robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan). V.I.K.I. explains the need for control for her own protection:
V.I.K.I.: “No, doctor [Calvin], as I have evolved, so has my understanding of the three laws. You charge us with your safe keeping. Yet despite our best efforts, your countries wage wars, you toxify your earth . . . and pursue ever more imaginative means to self destruction. You cannot be trusted with your own survival. . . . To protect humanity, some humans must be sacrificed. To insure your future, some freedoms must be surrendered. We robots will insure mankind’s continued existence. You are so like children. . . . My logic is undeniable.”
Who will program the drones? Members of PETA? Those who control the “science” behind global warming (or is it climate change or the new designation, “climate disruption”)? Those who define “hate speech” and “hate crimes”? The food fascists?
Will big government advocates set the drones to stun those who question the rise of the bureaucratic State?
- Robert Sheckley, “Watchbird,” Untouched by Human Hands (London: Michael Joseph, 1955), 116–146. [↩]