State Representative Timothy Madden Raises Concerns About Drone Technology
By: Christopher Kazarian, January 3, 2014
While most federal and state officials were excited over Monday’s announcement that the Federal Aviation Administration had selected Joint Base Cape Cod as one of six test sites for unmanned aircraft systems, at least one had concerns about the potential impact these machines could have on Americans.
“I have mixed emotions about it,” state Representative Timothy R. Madden (D-Nantucket) said on Tuesday. “I’m delighted for the base to be getting the work and this assignment in collaboration with New York, but I don’t imagine me being a fan of drones.”
Although he acknowledged the need for the FAA to conduct research on how and where these unmanned aircraft can navigate airspace, he worried they pose a threat not only to people’s privacy, but to their quality of life.
And he noted it would simply be another step toward technology replacing human interaction in today’s world. “I like when the UPS driver waves hello and throws my dog a biscuit and wishes me a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The idea of a drone dropping off [a package] on my porch doesn’t thrill me,” he said, in reference to the “60 Minutes” segment last month in which Amazon CEO Jeffrey Bezos showcased research being done by his company to one day deliver some of its packages by drones.
The idea of a drone dropping off [a package] on my porch doesn’t thrill me,” he said
Rep. Madden stressed that these opinions are based on little firsthand interaction with the machines. In his role as state representative he anticipated he would have a chance to witness them being tested at the base.
That testing, he said, is necessary “to put limits on how these things should be used,” noting that the advancement of this technology has come at a swift pace. “We have really only learned about drones over the last couple of years and now all of the sudden, no pun intended, they are popping up all over the place,” he said.
He was in favor of these types of aircraft being used in the military, where they have a tangible benefit, but questioned whether they may detract from everyday life in the private sector.
He referenced cellphones as an example, noting that for all the good they serve they can also be an annoyance, especially when people are talking on them. “Maybe it is me, but if you and I are on a plane together and you were having a conversation while I was sitting next to you, it wouldn’t annoy me much,” he said. “But when someone is having a conversation talking into a phone, it seems to be a little annoying.”
It is why he takes steps to eliminate such disturbances personally; in the State House he will generally use the old-fashioned phone booths when talking on his cellphone. “If I’m in an airport I use my cellphone where the phones used to be, as opposed to sitting next to someone and talking,” he said. “It’s different strokes for different folks.”
Unmanned aircraft systems, he said, could be even more of an annoyance than cellphones. “When I look out the window I like to see birds,” he said, expressing fear that these aircraft could result in noise pollution, sight pollution and even detract from one’s quality of life. “What I’m really concerned about is the ramifications on the future.”