I was on The Stream today to discuss drones. I also filmed an episode on the topic for Fault Lines. It airs December 26th at 2230 GMT. I’ll be live tweeting during that episode, so if you tune in, it will be like we’re watching it together. If you can’t tune in, it will be posted for eternity here.
Rushing and AJEnglish manage to squeeze a very comprehensive overview of developments around drone technology, from the many new practical uses (by both big brothers—government and industry—and citizens) to the ethical issues of privacy, legality, and increased incidence of PTSD by military drone pilots (a key issue which Rushing will likely explore in his longer episode of Fault Lines later this month.)
Drones are definitely in the news and on people’s minds much more these days. Yesterday Glen Greenwald had a pointed analysis of an NPR segment which he says, “purported to be a news story on the domestic use of drones but was, in fact, much more akin to a commercial for the drone industry.” Greenwald is right to be leery. The FAA will soon release new rules that will make it easier for drones to fly legally - making it easier and cheaper to acquire them for whatever use you desire. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, only our continued vigilance and concern will help us avoid a future where police use drones to spy on us, hunt us down or stifle dissent. On the other hand, the segment also casually mentions the more likely possibility (about which I also speculated) which would ensue before we would all be ruthlessly policed by a hovering equivalent of the telescreen: what if this technology were hacked by someone with different intentions than its legitimate user.
While I relish the protest/resistance angle to this, the legal and ethical problems this might cause are the stuff of sci-fi writers navigating the ethical quandaries new technologies force us into. i.e. my drone got hacked by a malevolent cabal of some sort, yet I’m on the hook for its actions. In some ways, this would be more horrifying than the option a viewer speculated about—that the drones will become intelligent and turn on us #skynet style.
UPDATE: I can’t believe I didn’t link to the other story breaking this week in the drone category, following from this last point. Though there is still dispute about what happened, Iran either hacked and brought down or at least collected in tact a downed US drone earlier this week. Experts seem to differ on if it crashed itself, was brought down by hacking, or if it is even real. Either way, the cultural attention it garnered seems to indicate the era of the drone is upon us.
10 Notes/ Hide
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