The drone age is coming. It has been estimated that annual spending on them around the world will almost double to $11.4 billion by 2022. This may prove to be an underestimation as the range of applications to which they are put expands rapidly. As is often the case, the new technology has been driven by the military, and drones are still identified with targeted killings, but this is likely to rapidly change as their civilian uses grow.
This drone revolution has massive implications, ranging from legal and moral to economic and geopolitical. It will be a deeply disruptive technology, able on the one hand to provide undreamt-of capacities to impoverished people and countries, and on the other to widen the gap between haves and have-nots. It may prove a creative, empowering experience, but also has the potential to be destructive, destabilizing and divisive.
In this simulation, Wikistrat asked its strategic community to explore the ways in which drone technologies of every kind could reshape political, economic, social, security, environmental and legal landscapes over the next twenty years and in the process the look and feel of a future world after the “drone revolution.” Across 12 days, 90 analysts from around the world collaboratively developed some fifty scenarios as to their possible uses and implications.
Five key roles emerged:
- Drones will fight our wars.
- Drones will do our work.
- Drones will oppress us.
- Drones will liberate us.
- Drones will make us question our legal and ethical assumptions.
These roles are expounded on in Wikistrat’s executive summary report for this simulation. To download the report, click here.