The pandemic has already given the future a distinctly dystopian look. And then there’s this: the burgeoning of the “second drone age.”

That’s how experts are describing the international drone market — which ranges from tiny startups selling $1,000-to-$2,000 off-the-shelf technology that can be easily weaponized by terrorist groups like the Taliban, to high-tech unmanned vehicles that can carry laser-guided munitions and Hellfire missiles. It’s an even more highly autonomized proliferation of the first age of drones, which has been dominated by the U.S. since its first attack using a remotely piloted craft in 2001. Now, it’s an ungoverned, unregulated space with billions of dollars to be made and thousands of lives at stake.

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