A favourite monthly read for me is Wired magazine. It was in the September edition that an article (Good Enough) caught my attention more than most. This article discusses the emergence of technology that is in a traditional sense inferior to what is offered in the market. ">Robert Capps cites Skype, Kindle, netbooks, text advertising, Google SketchUp and the Predator.
The sense of inferiority is something similar to "Keeping up with the Jones", some inspired efforts from a bygone era of consumerism and capitalism that exists today. The age of getting the latest incremental upgrade now featuring 1080p HDTV embedded into your washing machine. As a self-confessed geek, it is a hard argument to make that the latest tech doesn't need to be acquired but there is an element of needing the new extension or simply having the need defined to keep a marketing company in business (I think this may be a rabbit hole which incorporates Joss Whedon and my hatred of Reality TV).
The technological leaps that need to be followed and are advocated in the "Good Enough" article are those that enable accessibility, availability and are often "Like Free". This approach to a redefined quality is intuitive to the current generation (I would like to avoid citing Zs and Ys but I hope you take my meaning), they have seen and value the emergence of the technologies that are mentioned above. It is harder to break the old definitions of quality in generations (individuals?) who don't intuitively understand tech like Twitter.
Where this diversion refers back to the "So What?" is the MQ1 Predator, this is a product provided in a framework that is the antithesis of "good enough". Airworthiness and Military are frameworks that are inherently (and often for the best) conservative, but unmanned vehicles have found a gap in the frameworks. Put most simply, the airworthiness frameworks relax somewhat once the vehicle becomes light and reduces passengers to a minimum (i.e. 0). The military gets very excited when the platform can be available all the time.
Now the implementation of unmanned vehicles can be achieved by the old and bold methods (applying every standard required for Civil/Military aircraft) or an innovative approach can be applied by those who intuitively understand "Good Enough". To implement the former will continue trends of procurement overruns (schedule & cost) and allow others the opportunity to implement air power on a scale that can achieve greater mass for the same price.
There is a balance required, which ought to be achieved by an 'Up or Out' policy ensuring that fresh ideas and bodies are moving through the rigid structures to make sure it is the best and most innovative it can be