Some of the men and woman that pilot American combat drones, even though they’re thousands of miles from the battlefield, are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) very much like the grunts on the ground. That said, researchers speculate that a Siri like digital intelligence could help drone operators avoid PTSD altogether.
GQ (a.k.a. Gentlemen’s Quarterly) is running a depressingly interesting long-form article entitled Confessions of a Drone Warrior on the perils of being a combat drone operator — the stuff of a graduate or PhD dissertation, and seriously worth your time.
However, for fans of Apple’s iPhone or, for that matter, any modern smartphone, the really interesting conclusion researchers came to vis-a-vis reducing drone operator PTSD can be found on page 4:
These effects [PTSD, alcohol abuse, suicidal ideation] appeared to spike at the exact time of Bryant’s deployment, during the surge in Iraq. (Chillingly, to mitigate these effects, researchers have proposed creating a Siri-like user interface, a virtual copilot that anthropomorphizes the drone and lets crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens. Siri, have those people killed.)
Obviously, GQ and their researcher sources used “Siri” because she is the voice artificial intelligence — i.e. the voice of Google Now would be an equally apropos, though less familiar, cultural touchstone.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a combat veteran to see where this is going — the machines will soon be doing the fighting for us.
Do you welcome our new machine (a.k.a. Siri) overlords?