A.J. Feather

Journalist, Developer

I'm a Missouri native currently seeking a dual masters in computer science and journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Every week I also host an awesome podcast called "Integrate" with my friend Mikah, which you can find at Integrate.FM.

Before moving to New York, I obtained undergraduate degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In Columbia, I hosted a weekly show called "Talking Politics" for KBIA, the local NPR member station and produced, wrote and anchored video for Newsy.com way too early in the morning.

There has never been a political column I did not enjoy reading or an Apple product I did not enjoy using.

Drones Move into the Mainstream

Drones are a hot topic.  From the rights of American citizens to the University of Missouri School of Journalism, drones are getting a lot of attention.  In fact just this past week on MU's campus, the Young Americans for Liberty are protesting the use of drones in specific wartime scenarios by bringing a mock-up drone to campus.  At the same time, our MU school of journalism began experimenting with drones for journalistic purposes (better angles, more versatility, etc.). However, some concerning (and cool) news is coming out of drone research, such as the mosquito size drone.  These tiny pieces of technological brilliance open many new possibilities and a new can of worms.  Salon.com writes, "privacy and human rights advocates will likely have their worries piqued by the existence of 'unobtrusive' and 'pervasive' drones in U.S. hands alone. "

Drones have a number of benefits.  For example, at the University of Nebraska and University of Missouri Journalism schools, students are experimenting with the use of UAVs (unmanned autonomous vehicles) to take still photos and video while gathering areal information.  But for all of the things drones improve, they raise a number of concerns.  Each school has had to walk over the ethics of operating flying cameras and FAA regulation with the students.

The use of drones by the U.S. military has come under fire recently.  Just last week, Sen. Rand Paul filibustered over the possibly targeting of American civilians on US soil by way of drone.  Another alarming number is the total number of civilians who have perished in U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan.  According to Pakistani sources referenced in this New York Times article, the collateral of these attacks is near, "50 civilians for every militant killed, a hit rate of 2 percent — hardly 'precision.'"

Now, UAVs for use in journalism schools and armored drones being deployed in the Middle East aren't anywhere near the same thing.  However, they both operate on a similar concept.  Unarmed drones can't inflict physical damage, but when used by individuals who don't follow a code of ethics, the images and audio they capture might inflict plenty of damage alone - no weapons necessary.