Drones should be banned from private use, says Google's Eric Schmidt

From an interview with the Guardian newspaper (UK).  [UPDATE: This is actually a repost from April. Sorry about that!]

The use of cheap, miniature "everyman" drones needs to be banned by international treaties before such devices fall into the hands of private users including terrorists, the head of Google has said.

In an extended interview with the Guardian, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google and an adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, warned of the potential of new technology to "democratise the ability to fight war", and said drones could soon be used to harass and spy on neighbours.

"You're having a dispute with your neighbour," he hypothesised. "How would you feel if your neighbour went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their back yard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?"

Schmidt set out the trajectory of robotic warfare and considered whether it would be confined solely to national governments. "It's probable that robotics becomes a significant component of nation state warfare," he said.

"I'm not going to pass judgment on whether armies should exist, but I would prefer to not spread and democratise the ability to fight war to every single human being.

"It's got to be regulated. You just can't imagine that British people would allow this sort of thing, and I can't imagine American people would allow this sort of thing. It's one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they're doing, but have other people doing it … It's not going to happen."

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Comment by Gary McCray on December 7, 2013 at 4:28pm

"cheap, miniature "everyman" drones" - isn't that what we've got now?

I'd say that cats already out of the bag.

And I also don't see that governments have shown much tendency to use them beneficially for the good of mankind (unless you can sell surgically targeting your political enemies as good for mankind).

What is scary is how a person in such an obvious position of power and control regarding these issues can be so blindly ignorant of them.

The lesson here is don't trust the people in charge, they are incompetent fools.

Comment by Harry on December 7, 2013 at 4:52pm

He could get run over by a bus too.  We should ban public transportation to make sure that doesn't happen, or not.  What a fascist sissy.       

Comment by Hugues on December 7, 2013 at 5:02pm

Very subtle move from this guy: preaching a ban on drones we are flying, to reserve this right only to big corporations like Google is his real objective. Too much afraid citizens have a free access to aerial views he is trying to monopolize.

Comment by John Hestness on December 7, 2013 at 5:18pm

 I think that when the founding fathers talked about "the right to bear arms" they were talking about quadcopter arms.

A little more seriously, is Schmidt worried that we will be watching him as much as his company is monitoring us?

A large part of the constitution and and the entire formation of the US has to do with keeping the government in check and the power in the hands of the people, recent events seem to indicate some drifting away from that principle.  I think individual empowerment though technology is good for democracy.  And there are probably already laws regarding crazy neighbors.  

Comment by Harry on December 7, 2013 at 5:35pm

I agree John.  I reserve my rights as enumerated in the Constitution, not as granted by Government and Google.

Comment by Mark on December 7, 2013 at 5:41pm

Google have been acting like an "out of touch" company for a while now.

I banned Google search and blocked their advertisement network as well as Google Analytics on all office computers. Nothing gets to google via our routers. They own too much on this planet and it is always bad for business and progress.

I wonder what Google will do if people stop using their services?

Comment by Dave Wicks on December 7, 2013 at 5:58pm
They will simply inject themselves into more services until it's unavoidable. Just look at what they've done to YouTube, they are forcing people to integrate into google if you want to interact on YouTube.

Hopefully this guy doesn't speak for Google, that would be scary.
Comment by BluSky1 on December 7, 2013 at 6:10pm

The only thing motivating Eric Schmidt comments on this topic is the real reality of losing his empire of Google Maps to cheaper and higher resolution alternatives that our micro drones will bring.

Eric Schmidt a political hack only protecting his $$

Comment by Oliver on December 7, 2013 at 6:23pm

STOP!!!! EVERYBODY TAKE A DEEP BREATH! This is the same story on which we all commented extensively last April! Nothing  to see here, move along... Apparently this is just a side effect, created by bad writers with no new ideas, of the ridiculous publicity stunt by Amazon's chief door-to-door salesman Jeff Bozo. Some sophomoric hack has combined the two - Bozo's ill-conceived fantasy and Schmidt's April paranoid ravings - to come up with "Google wants to ban Amazon Drones."

What it does point out is what some of us here have been saying all along, the danger of feeding trolls - in this case Bozo, whose ridiculous fantasy shouldn't have been given any more ink than the average fourth-grader would get for an elementary-school science project.


Comment by Bot Thoughts on December 7, 2013 at 6:26pm
We will all be better off if we only trust technology and power to trustworthy governments and benevolent big companies. Sure.


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