Unfortunately, their podcast series is not well indexed, but from what I can make out, the piece was from 2007 and interviews aviation psychologist Nancy Cooke and ex-fighter pilot and current drone interface designer Missy Cummings.
The discussion is notable for a couple of things. The first is the interesting point that although drones are aircraft, the designers are trying to stop engineers automatically designing control centres that look and work like aircraft cockpits.
Cockpits are designed to do the best job in the space allowed, and, although familiar, control systems for drones can be much better designed if the whole concept is divorced from the cockpit metaphor.
The second is that they don’t mention killing anyone.
I allowed myself a grim smile when Cummings is asked how the drones are used and she replies “search and rescue, for instance, downed hikers in remote areas, border patrols, we can use them to take pictures and that’s what happens a lot in Afghanistan and Iraq – they use predatory UAVs to really monitor a situation”.
The stress of being interviewed obviously caused ‘running an illegal air war in Pakistan’ to slip her mind.
Snarky comments aside, the psychology of killing remotely must play a huge role in how the drones are managed in combat, and it’s not as if the topic has never been broached.
‘On Killing’, a book on combat that analyses the role of psychological distance in kill decisions and their aftermath, is a classic in military psychology.
Nevertheless, the podcast is a brief but interesting interview on the psychology of drone flying and how the wider public feel about unmanned aircraft as they inevitably migrate from military weapons to civilian workhorses.