General Atomics and Their Drones
A Look into the Ethical and Social Responsibilities of General Atomics
Roxanne L Culp
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
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Drones appear to be the topic of conversation today. Less than a decade ago they were rarely mentioned. If you heard about these unmanned aerial vehicles you probably never imagined that they would become so crucial to the War on Terror. The U.S. military and other government agencies use drones to save money and keep humans out of harm’s way but there are many who disagree with their use. People are concerned about how the drones are used in combat overseas and surveillance at home. The debate over the use of drones has become a top issue in national politics and has many worried about safety and privacy. General Atomics Corporation is leading the industry in aerospace and defense. There are reported concerns regarding General Atomics and lobbying. Individuals are concerned that with all their lobbying big business will come first before what is ethically right. Is General Atomics being driven by greed and power or are they a socially responsible ethical power house?
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General Atomics was founded in 1955 and was a division of the company General Dynamics. They initially focused on exploring peaceful uses of atomic energy. General Atomics and their affiliates are now one of the world's leading resources for high-technology systems, remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies. The increase use of drones by the military has made General Atomics one of the top defense contractors. General Atomics is best known for manufacturing the Predator. The predator, an unmanned spy plane, is considered one of the most important tools in today’s war on terror. Drones such as the Predator are used in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The military and Government believe that drones are crucial to the success of the War on terror. The use of drones to gather intelligence and surveillance was instrumental to finding Osama Bin Laden.
Drones or Unmanned aerial vehicles have come a long way since the late 90s when they were only used for surveillance. After the attack on September 11 the CIA joined with the military to arm the drones. The first drone deployed after September 11th was the Predator. The ability of the Predator to hover over a target for hours and relay live surveillance was invaluable. When the Predator was later modified and equipped with missiles and or other munitions it allowed
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the United States to carry out certain missions without risking the lives of military personnel.
Drones are a rapidly growing form of technology, used for numerous purposes outside the military. They are used to study weather systems and ecosystems. Some law enforcement agencies are using them. Small private companies have developed remote-controlled mini-aircraft equipped with cameras available for sale.
As CNN Money explains, (2013) "Journalists and sports photographers use them in lieu of expensive helicopters. Real estate agents employ them for aerial photos and video. Wildlife researchers and search-and-rescue outfits are using them and studying the potential benefits. Even the utility industry is interested in having them hunt for downed power lines after a storm.” There is little doubt that the drone business is booming and there is money to be made. Drones without question have changed the way we fight wars, but many question the ethics behind their use. There is fear that the use this technology, which seems to be evolving faster than many can keep...