50 Evil Uses for Drones

by about Work-Life, Law in Technosocial

Inspired (triggered?) by a good friend’s post on LinkedIn that was talking about all the good that comes from drones, I accepted his challenge to write a quick list of at least 50 evil uses that come to my mind to demonstrate why my future vision of mini-artilleries on roofs is perfectly reasonable.

Bad collage of an old-school artillery on a grassy house roof with a gigantic drone attacking
Realistic view of an anti-air gun defending a home from evil drones

To summarize the discussion I had with him, we will probably land in a dystopia of some form or another where drones will send some sort of permission signal or have specific zones they’re allowed in and we’ll have special drones (delivering medicine and possibly organs or vaccines?) that are the equivalent of ambulances and police cars.

We’ll also have a whole new field of crime dedicated to hacking those permission signals and imitating said police cars to scout the area or participate in any of the following (and more) use cases. I won’t mention the neighbor lets drone spray weed killer on my grass use case anymore because I promised to deliver 50 additional use cases. Here we go, deep breath:

  1. Kidnap people (this really means we should keep the lockdown kilos we’ve gained because the heavier we are, the harder it is for a drone to snatch us away)
  2. Mass attacks and chemical attacks (if you have a lot of money, you can just storm buildings as one person piloting many drones in formation - indoors will be harder unless the drones carry mop…or mob… robots and/or chemical weapons to sweep up the place)
  3. Dealing with weapons and/or illicit substances
  4. Assassinations
  5. Extinction of animals (we’re already disturbing animals in the air, this just adds another factor to it)
  6. Environmental impact (mass production of batteries possibly outweighs the positive environmental effects of drone usage, but I’m not an expert - I just need to fill up 50 list items and there are enough papers and articles on this subject)
  7. Restraining orders need to be widened to include drones owned or hired by that person
  8. Stalking and voyeurism
  9. Air traffic disruption (one could argue that air traffic is already as such a disruption and that drones would actually improve the situation)
  10. Point lasers towards airplanes (untraceable from drones, blinds pilots)
  11. Paparazzi
  12. Illegal Immigration (send lightweight humans in boxes - unless we x-ray the whole sky)
  13. Lawsuits (when those mini-artilleries start, there will be a whole new genre of lawsuits around damaged property and discussions around whether drones are trespassing or not)
  14. Hacked permissions signals mean that even when you think that drone over your head is legitimate, it might not be (once we have something like those permission signals and receiver beacons either on each property or in general zones)
  15. Disruption of sports events (fans of one team could send drones to harass the enemy team’s players)
  16. Illegal recordings of events
  17. Government surveillance and face checking on protestors
  18. Vigilante surveillance (people team up and decide they have the right to check up on whomever or whatever they want)
  19. Business disruption (you could send over drones to display banners or similar forms of advertisements directly on your competition’s doorstep)
  20. Audio attacks (imagine thousands of drones playing Last Christmas in the sky and you have no chance of escape unless you stay at home and have noise-cancelling headphones or a hearing impairment)
  21. Propaganda (you go outside, there’s your friendly dictator’s face - you go to work, there’s your friendly dictator’s face - you look up at the sky, there’s your friendly dictator’s face and a message that if you move a little bit to the left, you will be exterminated)
  22. Disruption of protests (spray tear gas into the masses)
  23. Disruption of voting (people stop voting because they fear being watched and/or killed)
  24. Theft of open cargo and things on your property when they’re not chained down
  25. Captivity (when drones are really just mini fighters with missiles and machine guns operated by either someone private or the government, how different is being in a cell to being able to walk just inside the designated perimeter when you have to fear being shot?)
  26. Illegal data extraction (send electromagnetic signals, exfiltrate data, move it out safely - an additional attack vector from the air for air-gapped systems, this could get exciting, less tailgating, more drone pew pew)
  27. Prison breaks (laser up walls/windows, drop keys)
  28. Crime scene distortion (transport evidence away from crime scenes without further evidence of the transportation)
  29. Crime scene injection (inject pieces of evidence into the crime scene to incriminate someone else)
  30. Burglary (fly in through open windows and grab whatever the drone can take or send in a second robot who can roam around a bit more)
  31. Disable alarm systems (fly in, disable, go in)
  32. Lead pets to dangerous zones (pets who either run after or away from the drone can be led to high traffic zones or other potentially dangerous zones)
  33. Distract kids and lead them to dangerous zones (another point why drones should be banned in urban areas)
  34. Street hazards (lots of drones leads to potential accidents which leads to them dropping from the air onto the street which leads to potential car accidents)
  35. Accidents (same as with the street hazards, drones can fall onto your head)
  36. Distinction between insects and drones (remember those annoying sounds near your ear when you’re trying to sleep in summer? - this, but all year round and you can’t even identify where it is because it’s everywhere - and, some drones will be small, so you don’t even know whether you’re running away form a hornet or a drone)
  37. Arachnophobia (spiders - but in the air)
  38. Windshield crashes (it used to be insects, now it will be cold hard metal and/or plastic)
  39. Neighbor fights (enhanced over-the-fence-throwing with drones)
  40. Cutting phone cables (where they’re still above ground)
  41. Cutting electricity cables
  42. Setting oil pipelines on fire
  43. Untraceable other forms of vandalism (private or public property)
  44. Disruption of areas where people have retreated to be in a non-tech quiet zone (the smaller, the harder to trace)
  45. Theft of clothes on the beach (“I didn’t mean to run around half-naked but a drone stole my clothes”)
  46. Paintbombing people/stores/things
  47. Insurance fraud (causing a car crash, burning down a house, and more)
  48. Graffiti drones
  49. Drones for hunting in areas without hunting permit
  50. Scaring people

Picture of a drone flying
Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

These are just the first 50 use cases that came to my mind. Yes, they mostly fall into the same categories - you bring something, you throw something, you take something, or you look at something. What other evil uses can you think of and add to the list?

As a side note, I fully believe in the positive usage of drones and that they will be very useful to us as a society. I also believe that we need to be aware of the evil use cases and regulate them. It’s much like with information security. Know your risks and play the game accordingly.