Google Chief Thinks Driverless Planes Are a Menace, Wants Them Banned

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 15 2013 1:57 PM

Google Chief Thinks Driverless Planes Are a Menace, Wants Them Banned

Google CEO Eric Schmidt knows what's best for us.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt knows what's best for us.

Photo by Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Drones are a privacy bane and a security risk, and civilians can’t be trusted with them, Google executive chairman* Eric Schmidt told The Guardian this weekend. An excerpt:

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

“You're having a dispute with your neighbor," he hypothesized. "How would you feel if your neighbor 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?”

How refreshing to hear such concern for people’s privacy from the chief executive of a company that goes out and buys commercial observation cars and drives them by people’s houses all day. But wait, there’s more:

“I'm not going to pass judgment on whether armies should exist, but I would prefer to not spread and democratize 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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Yes, driverless planes should be banned immediately, says the guy whose company is pouring millions into driverless cars.

In fact, it seems Schmidt wouldn’t mind if we outlawed non-driverless cars while we’re at it. As he explained to AllThingD last fall, “It’s really an error that we’re allowed to drive the car." Really, the whole world would be better off if we just banned every activity that Google can't do for us. You know, for the sake of our safety and privacy.

*Correction, Monday, April 15, 2:10 p.m.: This article originally misidentified Eric Schmidt as Google's CEO. He is the company's former CEO and current executive chairman.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

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