February 7, 2013

(Atta Kenare/Getty Images) Just what my household needs, really.

I want a pet drone.

Let me explain myself.

Drones, like most weapons in the hands of other people, are unnerving. Rocket launchers. Trained attack dogs. Stealthy, malignant robots who can melt things with their eyes. I don’t know if these exist, but if they do, I am strongly opposed – to anyone else having them.

You know the conjugation: Your cyborg dog is a dangerous attacker. Mine is a charming purebred. The government’s is a horrible Hitlerian conspiracy waiting to happen.

I think the nation’s discomfort with drones could be solved by distributing them more broadly. Take a Second Amendment approach to it. Why should the government get to have all the fun?

The solution to people’s fear of drones is more exposure to drones. It is like in psychology –- when you are deathly afraid of something, the trick is to stick you into a tank full of whatever that thing is. (That might not be actual psychology so much as something I saw on an episode of “Criminal Minds” once, but let’s go with it.)

A friend of mine joked recently about training a drone to come land on her arm, like a hawk, but I am not joking. Why not do it? No one has hawks these days, and they were so useful. Send your drone out to bring you a rabbit for dinner. Send it out for milk. Send it out to drop an apologetic card on an innocent civilian.

Why do we assume that these only have military uses? Have it follow your crush! That’s still creepy, but it raises fewer international legal questions. Have it take aerial images of the homes of people who have left rude comments on your blog, and console yourself with thoughts of their poor taste in carpets and messy gutters. Drones have gotten a bad rap. All they do is what we tell them to.

Drones in the home will keep your Roomba from turning lonely, bored and sentient. That is the last thing you need! There is a reason nature abhors a vacuum: Nature knows the evil impulses that lurk beneath their placid surfaces.

Besides, we need more gadgets. The smartphone has fewer and fewer friends these days, as it gradually takes their jobs and they come to resent it. The alarm clock, iPod, stopwatch and camera grouse together, in the corner, and get up whenever the smartphone tries to sit down on the side table with them. But the drone has its own niche and it is hard to imagine how it might be unseated. They could provide one another with needed companionship.

A pet drone is just right for people who think a cat might be too much commitment. It is hard to train cats to hover menacingly over the heads of your enemies. They do sometimes but generally because they suspect your enemies are concealing food or birds on their person. Drones, like cats, can be quite lethal. But drones won’t sneak out and devour rare voles without telling you. You don’t have to feed a drone. You don’t have to water a drone. You don’t even have to justify your drone program to Congress, if government precedent is anything to go by. If you bring a date home, your date will not be discomfited by the presence of a drone litterbox and framed pictures of your drone in its new holiday jingle collar. Unless you want him to be.

The solution to America’s drone problem? More drones, in the hands of more people. This is usually how these sentences work: “The solution to America’s X problem? More X.” That will make us safer. That is how safety works.

Get a drone. It’s an invisible friend — with some bite.

Besides, humans are good at domesticating predators. Soon, we can reclaim the drone’s reputation. They were only doing what we told them to do. Need a wedding photographer? Send the drone. Need to scout out an OkayCupid date before you saunter down to the coffee shop? Send the drone. Need a dog for protection? Get a drone! Watch anyone try to mug you with that Predator hovering over your head. And it won’t mortify the fire hydrant.

Always Innovating has even come up with one you can try to license.

This is what we’ve been missing all this time. The solution to our growing and persistent discomfort about drones, the secrecy around them and the lack of oversight? Give everyone one, and see what ensues!

Join the Drones Club, as Wodehouse might have it.

If we can’t all get one, I’d settle for more information about the program. But I’m trying to stay within the realm of the possible.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.