Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Drones -- Friend or Foe?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 2, 2013 7:48 AM

Radio Smart Talk for Wednesday, January 2:

drone 300x170.jpg

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones, as they are more often called, has become of the weapon of choice for the U.S. to destroy enemy targets in Afghanistan and western Pakistan.  Actually, the drones themselves deliver the bombs and missiles that do the damage while being controlled thousands of miles away.  To some, a drone strike looks very much like what one would see while playing a video game.

That's the dilemma for many.  Does targeting and killing the enemy through a technology that doesn't give that enemy an opportunity to fight back cross some sort of moral boundary?  What if an opponent develops a drone and uses it on the U.S.?  Or do the drones do what they're supposed to do and destroy the enemy while minimizing American casualties?

Dr. Jay Parrish, a professor of geospatial intelligence at Penn State University, will appear on Wednesday's program to address "Drones: Friend or Foe?"

Dr. Parrish will also discuss how drones are and will be used in peaceful settings.

Listen to the program:


Dr. Jay Parrish, professor of geospatial intelligence at Penn State University

Tagged under , ,

back to top
  • matthewpfritz img 2013-01-02 09:49

    Technology that allows for greater efficiency and safety for first-responders and military personnel doesn't absolve us from our moral responsibility to consider the ramifications. Democracy provides us the opportunity to engage in informed debate to consider the long-term impact of various policies. Killing ANY human being is not to be taken lightly. Bin Laden likely had no moral problem with killing innocent people. We should and that is part of what makes us CIVILIZED.

    Matt Fritz
    Elizabethtown, PA

  • Dave img 2013-01-02 20:00

    While the subject of drones is interesting, and Dr. Jay Parrish is well informed, this was a very one-sided discussion by a person who is apparently anti-war and against the use of drones.

    Some of the conversation was around the depersonalization of drones, but I fail to understand how a drone with a high-resolution camera is worse than a B-29 flying over Dresden at night, with an airman peering through a small Norden bombsight, firebombing civilian areas, which was the height of depersonalized warfare. Ever since man stopped using a club on his enemy and developed the bow, or the long rifle, killing has become more depersonalized, using your description. Certainly drones are better than atom bombs, or the German V-2.
    Our enemies use very crude methods of killing people civilians, with IEDs and airplanes flying into buildings, whereas a drone, used properly, is much more strategic, and often results in less collateral damage and puts Americans at less risk – and what is wrong with that?

    For the Smart Talk show to stay relevant and fair, they either need to have an opposing view on the same day or the following day, as this, like several other segments I’ve listened to, was very one-sided, and does a disservice both the importance of topic, and to WITF’s credibility as an honest news broker.

  • berryfriesen img 2013-01-02 21:36

    Several callers seemed irritated with Dr. Parrish because he did not exult in the technological advantage the U.S. currently enjoys with regard to drones. But that misses the point of Dr. Parrish's remarks as I understood them. Dr. Parrish said this technology is so inexpensive and accessible that the U.S. advantage will be short-lived. Unmanned aerial vehicles will soon be widely available to many governments and many private parties. (The FAA apparently holds the same view; by 2020, it expects 30,000 drones to be flying in U.S. skies.) So however good it may feel to exult in the current U.S. dominance, it may be the wiser course to ask some tough questions about this technology before it takes us places we do not want to go.

  • Rick Stamm img 2013-01-06 14:17

    Very interesting show. I think Dr. Parrish did a great job discussing both the pros and cons of drones. Bottom line - we need to pay attention to where this is all going. The future is now and this technology will definitely have an impact on us.

    As for the military issue, callers and comments seem to miss the fact that our current activity in Pakistan may be developing more hatred for the US and recruiting more terrorists. Unlike the example of flying over Germany or Japan in WWII we are not at war with Pakistan, although the population there seems to think so.

    The use of this technology in the never-ending war on terrorism is quite unlike the use of technology in traditional wars of the past. The issues are much more complex. I refer readers to a Stanford Law School web site for more background. Let's all learn together.

Give Now

Smart Talk Sponsors


Smart Talk Road Trip Sponsor

Roof Advisory Group Logo

witf's Public Insight Network

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »