There used to be a fairly stable tradition of war, says John E. Jackson, a retired Navy captain and professor at the Naval War College. But drones have changed everything.

“It used to be that a warrior prepares, trains, deploys to a foreign location where he is face-to-face with an enemy, he may or may not survive, and at the end, he comes home,” says Jackson. Now, pilots can leave their homes in Las Vegas, drive to the Creech Air Force Base, are “at war” for eight to 10 hours, and then come home. “It’s a very, very different type of environment.”

The growing ubiquity of drones is forcing us to think about everything from PTSD for drone pilots to autonomous weapons to the risk of data vulnerability. The Verge spoke to Jackson, editor of One Nation Under Drones: Legality, Morality, and Utility of Unmanned Combat Systems about the history of these autonomous vehicles and what we’ll need to keep an eye out for in the future.

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