The political economy of drones

That is a new paper by Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall, here is the abstract:

This paper provides a political economy analysis of the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or “drones”, in the United States. Focus is placed on the interplay between the political and private economic influences; and their impact on the trajectory of political, economic, and, in this case, military outcomes. We identify the initial formation of the drone industry, trace how the initial relationships between the military and the private sector expanded over time, and discuss how the industry has expanded. Understanding the history and evolution of UAV technology, as well as the major players in the industry today, is important for ongoing policy debates regarding the use of drones, both domestically and internationally.


I'm surprised (at least from a word search) there's no discussion at all of Area 51. That seems like an awful big hole in their political and economic history!

I'm not sure drones are special. They allow more targeted assassinations at lower cost. What matters is the political support. Maybe their alleged precision allows voters to think that we really are precise.

Drones themselves are a positive, as was the sniper rifle. More precision is better. The controversy is more about the indiscriminate use of the weapon. A sniper opening up on a group, rather than just hitting his target, is not an improvement.

Spergs love drones. Precision! The tribal partisan watching this device and feeling his impotence against such a foe will be enraged. Eventually you have to put boots on the ground and the tribe has a reachable target.

If you use drones to terrorize an indigenous population you must ultimately either cow them completely into submission or they will send suicide attackers to your homes to strike back.

It is a bit surprising that anti-drone technology is not more advanced. The Taliban should be brushing Predators from the sky.

If drones of any size become a threat to technically advanced countries we can count on the market providing counter measures.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, to use the more accurate technical name, are a pure creation of technology, and a refutation of notions like The Great Stagnation. Huge reductions in size and price for sensors and computing power make them possible and will make them ubiquitous and largely autonomous. In fact pilots are largely superfluous already and unmanned freighters and airliners are on the horizon.

Soon, that bird you see on the telephone wire might be a UAV looking at you, and when the fly-sized ones Robert Wood is creating at Harvard become fully autonomous, you won't note them at all.

Comments for this post are closed