Until Sunday a week ago, drones had a pretty poor reputation. Evoking dark visions of “death from above,” they were seen as killing machines, armed with bombs and bullets, guided by the hands of remote pilots seated comfortably at a military base with a joystick and a video-game-like console. Even the term, “drone,” connotes a mindless, merciless robot.
All that changed when Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, reimagined what drones might deliver. Last Sunday, on 60 Minutes, Bezos revealed plans to use drones to carry online orders from his warehouses to our homes. He called it Amazon PrimeAir and said he hopes to be flying in 5 years. The Internet lit up with the news.
Amazon PrimeAir showed us that drones can carry “death from above” or, as one writer put it, “showers of blessings.” Before Bezos’ announcement, it was easy for us to simply think of drones as bad. But now, this new possibility suggests that we can begin to think of them as good. So which is it, bad or good?
This question brings us back to a long-held belief: “Technology is neutral. How you use it determines if it’s good or bad.” So the argument goes: If you’re the military delivering your payload of bullets, a drone is bad. But if you’re Amazon delivering a payload of LEGOS, a drone is good. Now that Bezos has turned drones on their head, we have a chance to ask “Is technology really neutral?” Is it really just a matter of bullets vs. LEGOS?
Read the rest at Second Nature Journal.