Taking Our Drone Pulse
Most of us think we have a good handle on the world around us. We generally feel we fairly well understand how things work and are confident and justified in our perspective. The notion of cognitive bias usually doesn’t enter into our consideration. How biased we may be in our understanding of the world around us can clearly vary from person to person and from situation. But it is quite clear that during the early stages of a new phenomenon or innovation, we are particularly susceptible to potential anchoring (a form of cognitive bias wherein we tend to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered when making decisions or forming an opinion). Despite the near-century long history of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the explosion of modern, cheap and capable UAVs over the last few years may be a classic situation ripe for anchoring and confirmation bias given the fact most people are aware of this technology but don’t necessarily have direct experience with their operation per se (mostly seeing UAVs at a distance or mentioned in media accounts that often hype the potential upside or dramatize the dangers). As this powerful technology becomes ever more widespread, we are all being asked to weigh in ever more frequently about their acceptable use.
Never the ones to just sit by when potential controversy is burbling up, the faculty and students of CSU Channel Islands began documenting public sentiment surrounding UAVs in 2015, conducing out first nation-wide poll in 2016. Every year since we have conducted surveys to both inform our own UAV-related classroom discussions and to help advance the general public discourse surrounding the use of this technology.
This semester we will be conducting another round of our ongoing survey of the general public’s perceptions of UAVs and their experience with them. We will conduct this survey via both face to face and online survey instruments. We will also conduct our survey in English and Spanish.
Here is a brief orientation to our drone survey from our first classroom session: