At the Drone Convention, Don’t Call Them Drones


The LA Times reports on this week’s huge drone convention in Washington DC. The vendors all want to sell more drones, of course:

The first goal, however, is to ease public fear of drones. Most in the fast-expanding industry won’t even use the word, preferring euphemisms like “unmanned aerial vehicle” and remotely piloted aircraft, rather than the term most people associate with lethal drone strikes by the Obama administration against suspected terrorists from Pakistan to North Africa.

Good luck with that! Especially with exhibits like this:

In the giant hall below, passersby had their body heat invisibly scanned by infrared sensors, were invited to operate simulators to send drones screaming over the Hindu Kush, and watched toy-sized helicopters flutter and take pictures in front of home-sized windows. Barkers from Ohio, Florida, North Dakota and other states pitched drone testing sites. Colorful banners from aerospace giants like Boeing and Northrop Grumman hung from the ceiling next to drab, gray models of unmanned aircraft.

Yep, that sure makes me more likely to soften my opinion of domestic drone operation.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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