Exclusive - Missy Cummings Extended Interview Pt. 1

  • Aired:  01/23/13
  •  | Views: 95,776

In this exclusive, unedited interview, MIT professor and former fighter pilot Missy Cummings disputes the popular dystopian vision of drone warfare. (7:45)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF AERONAUTICS AND AFT TROA NAUGHTICS AT D ASTRONAUTICS

YOU CAN CATCH HER ON RISE OF DRONE.

>> THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE CALLS THEM REMOTELY PILOTED AIRCRAFT BUT MOST PEOPLE KNOW

THEM AS DRONES.

NO LONGER JUST EYES IN THE SKY, THEY ARE TAKE THE PILOT OUT OF COCKPIT AND REVOLUTIONIZING

WARFARE BY ALLOWING US TO SEE AND KILL FROM HALF A WORLD AWAY.

>> WE CAN EASILY MAKE OUT PEOPLE FROM FIVE, SIX MILES AWAY.

>> YOU CAN PUT WEAPONS THROUGH A WINDOW-SIZED OPENING WITH EASE.

>> Jon: I'M GOING TO SHUT MY WINDOW.

[ LAUGHTER ]

PLEASE WELCOME MISSY CUMMINGS.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

HOW ARE YOU?

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> I'M GOOD.

THANK YOU.

>> Jon: SO THIS IS THE TECHNOLOGY -- THE TECHNOLOGY OF THIS IS SO -- EVEN THE RISE OF

DRONES HAS SUCH A SCI-FI KIND OF VIBE TO IT.

THERE'S ALWAYS THAT SENSE WHENEVER THE UNITED STATES MAKES A SORT OF JUMP IN KIND OF

WARFARE WE CELEBRATE IT AND REALIZE SEVEN GOING TO HAVE ONE OF THESE IN FIVE YEARS SOX THAT

THE GENERAL CONSENSUS OF THOSE WORKING ON THIS TYPE OF TECHNOLOGY.

>> YOU COULD DO ON A WEB SITE TO DO IT YOURSELF DRONES AND BUILD IT YOURSELF.

>> Jon: I WOULD NOT TELL THAT TO ME.

[ LAUGHTER ]

IT'S ACTUALLY LIKE A HOME PROJECT?

>> OR IF YOU GO TO BROOKSTONE OR AMAZON AND BUY ONE ONLINE.

>> Jon: WITH A HELL-FIRE SNIFFLE.

>> NOT QUITE THOSE ARE A LITTLE BIT MORE.

>> Jon: THE TECHNOLOGY IS SIMPLE.

>> WE CALL THEM UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES BECAUSE THE WORD DRONE TAKES ON A STUPIDNESS.

THEY ARE GETTING SMARTER.

THEY ARE SIM AIRCRAFT.

THAT'S ONE OF REASONS THEY ARE SO POPULAR BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAPER TO BUILD AND A LOT

CHEAPER TO FLY AND MAINTAIN.

YOU DON'T NEED AN EXPENSIVE PILOT THAT COSTS MILLIONS TO TRAIN.

>> Jon: DOESN'T TAKE AWAY ANY ADVANTAGE THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS.

IF WE HAVE ADVANTAGE IT'S THAT WE LIKE TO SPEND A HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY ON DEFENSE.

THE ONLY ADVANTAGE WE HAVE IS LIKE YOU'VE GOT ONE TANK, WE'VE GOT A MILLION.

>> SO WE'RE JUST BUILDING MORE DRONES.

>> Jon: MORE DRONES?

>> YES.

>> Jon: IS THERE -- YOU KNOW, TECHNOLOGY HAS IN SOME WAYS DEMOCRATIZED PEOPLE'S ABILITY TO

DO A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF DAMAGE.

IF YOU CAN CHEAPLY MAKE A DRONE AND ARM IT WITH A MISSILE, THINGS THAT ONLY A COUNTRY COULD

DO BEFORE COULD BE DONE BY INDIVIDUAL GROUPS.

NOT TOP ONLY DISCUSS THE DYSTOPIAN DIVISION OF DRONES, IS THERE A DIVISION OF YOUR OFFICE

THAT WORKS ONLY ON THE PERVERTED USE OF THAT?

>> EVERY TECHNOLOGY CAN BE PERVERTED IN SOME WAY.

BUT I THINK ONE OF AREAS PEOPLE DON'T THINK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT DRONES IS THE COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS.

FOR EXAMPLE, IN FIVE OR TEN YEARS, I THINK YOU'LL SEE FED-EX, UPS UNMANNED AIRCRAFTS

FLYING OUR PACKAGES AROUND.

>> Jon: I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION OF FED-EX AND UPS.

JUST BOOM!

OPEN WINDOW.

HERE IS YOUR PACKAGE!

[ LAUGHTER ]

IS THERE A CONCERN -- YOU KNOW, THAT THE EASE OF IT ALLOWS THE GOVERNMENT TO MERE EISLEY

OVERSTEP -- EASILY TO OVERSTEP OR AUTHORITY -- IS IT EASIER TO LOSE SIGHT OF THE KILLING POWER

GIVEN THE DISTANCE YOU HAVE FROM IT?

>> WE'VE BEEN BACKING UP WARFARE OUT OF BATTLEFIELD FOR MANY, MANY YEARS FROM HIGH ALTITUDE

BOMBING, BALLISTIC MISSILES.

SO FLYING DRONES IS GETTING US FURTHER FROM THE TARGET BUT THAT'S A LONG TREND.

I THINK THE MILITARY DOES A FANTASTIC JOB OF HAVING THE REGULATIONS IN PLACE AND

DISCUSSING IT.

THERE'S AN ENTIRE CONFERENCE, FOR EXAMPLE, OF MILITARY ETHICS THAT DOES NOTHING BUT DISCUSS

UNMANNED VEHICLES OR WARFARE.

>> Jon: CAN WE GO TO THAT ONE?

>> SURE IT'S RIVETING.

THERE'S A DANGER FOR SMALL COUNTRIES BECAUSE THE BARRIER TOP ENTRY IS SO LOW.

ANYONE CAN GO TO DOITYOURSELFDRONES AND FIND THE TECHNOLOGY.

IT COULD BE ANTHRAX, FOR EXAMPLE.

IT'S A REAL CONCERN AND GOVERNMENT IS WORKING ON HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST THESE KIND AFTER TACKS.

>> Jon: YOU GET THE SENSE THAT WHATEVER PEOPLE CAN MAKE YOU CAN BE SURE THEY'LL USE IT FOR

SOMEWHAT OF AN ANEFARIOUS EVEN ATOMIC ENERGY.

IS THAT A MORAL CONCERN?

>> I THINK SO.

I USED TO FLY F-18 FOR THE NAVY, FLYING IT TEN YEARS AGO WAS DIFFICULT BECAUSE IT WAS ME

TALKING TO ONE OTHER PERSON ON THE RADIO MAKING THE DECISIONS UNDER STRESS OVER A TARGET.

TODAY WE HAVE DRONES AND OTHER PEOPLE ON THE GROUND AND THEY ARE TALKING TO EACH OTHER.

THEY ARE TALKING TO THE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL PLANE IN THE SKY.

THEY ARE TALKING TO PEOPLE AT THE PENTAGON, FOR EXAMPLE, SO WE'VE GOT A LOT MORE PEOPLE

TALKING IN REAL-TIME.

SO I THINK DRONE WARFARE IS SAY SAFER, MORE EFFECTIVE FORM OF WARFARE.

LESS COLLATERAL DAMAGE AND PRESS BLUE ON BLUE KILLS WHICH IS WHEN WE KILL OUR OWN PEOPLE.

>> Jon: WHAT ABOUT A DEATH STAR?

>> I SIGNED THAT PETITION.

>> Jon: DID YOU REALLY?

WHY DIDN'T YOU SIGN THAT PETITION?

[ LAUGHTER ]

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT IF YOU SAY IT'S SORT OF AN EASIER TECHNOLOGY, IS THAT THE KIND OF

THING WHERE -- YOU KNOW, I ALWAYS -- LISTEN, I WATCH A LOT OF MOVIES.

ANYTHING LIKE THE CLONE ARMIES, DRONES -- ALL THOSE TYPES OF THINGS.

YOU SEE 30 YEARS FROM NOW THERE MAY BE ROBOTIC WARFARE WHERE THERE ARE, YOU KNOW KILLING

FIELDS OF ROBOTS THAT ARE JUST KIND OF AT EACH OTHER.

>> SURE DARFA.

>> Jon: WHO IS THAT?

>> DEFENSE --

>> Jon: OH, YEAH, YEAH.

>> YEAH SO THEY'VE GOT WORK GOING ON RIGHT NOW TO DO THAT.

I ALSO THINK THAT THERE'S A LOT OF WORK GOING ON INSIDE THE MILITARY AND OUTSIDE THE

MILITARY TO COMMERCIALIZE THESE BUT EVEN TO DO HUMANITARIAN AID.

I'M WORKING WITH THE NAVY ON A HELICOPTER THAT COULD BE CALLED IN BY SOMEBODY ON DISTRESS.

YOU CALL IT FROM THE SMART PHONE IT FINDS YOU AND LANDS AND CAN DO AN EMERGENCY EVACUATION.

NO HUMAN PILOT INVOLVED.

>> Jon: CAN YOU DO THAT WITH TAXIS?

>> I THINK GOING IS ON THAT.

>> Jon: CAN YOU TAKE AROUND A COUPLE MINUTES?

>> SURE.

>> Jon: WE'LL TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE.

YOU CAN WATCH NOVA'S RISE OF THE DRONES ON PBS THIS WEEK.

YOU CAN CATCH IT ON THE NOVA WEB SITE.

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