Assignment 4: Drones Watching Over Us All

By Veronica Wheelock

Take a look at this video by Superflux called The Drone Aviary. Superflux is a team that has researched and investigated what life will be like in the near future as drones continue to develop.

Are you a little freaked out?

I definitely was after watching the video. Having the ability to put eyes everywhere is a scary thought. I do, however, see the beauty in the video as well. As drones continue to be developed and grow in popularity and use, I think there will be a light and a dark side to their use.

Starting with the latter, constant surveillance can be a major infringement on the right to privacy. I remember years ago when I was a little girl, there was a local debate about whether surveillance cameras should be used in a certain neighborhood as a neighborhood watch system. People were enraged by the proposition. There were threats vowing that if cameras were installed, they would be smashed and destroyed. The average person does not seem to like the idea of having their every move recorded.

And yet, I do think the quote that rolls up the screen- “In some real, but imperfect way, you exist in more than one place at once”- is chillingly accurate. That gets me thinking, I wonder how many times I’ve strolled through the background of someone’s picture or video. Am I making some ridiculous face in the background of some stranger’s instagram photo? Can you hear me arguing on the phone with my mom in the background of someone’s snapchat?

Imagine having to feel this fear tenfold, or even a hundredfold. Imagine the buzzing sound of the cicadas in the summer being replaced by the buzzing sound of drones overhead. If drones will be taking constant footage, how do we know what that footage is going to be used for? I think that spying could become far too easy- whether it’s the government spying on another country or a crazy girlfriend spying on who her boyfriend is hanging out with. Imagine the possibilities.

The bright side of all of this, is that making the ability to take off an fly commonplace would allow people to do some really great things also. From a newscaster’s perspective, what if a crime scene is too dangerous to go running into with a camera and microphone? A drone could have delivered better footage of the riots in Baltimore.

The video also showed a billboard drone that could display advertisements and then read the facial expressions of the people who look at it. Based on their facial features, the drone would then determine whether the ad is evoking a positive or negative emotion.

What if interview questions could be displayed on the billboard drone? In the case of the Baltimore riots, broadcasters could go into the action and potentially get great interviews without ever having to put themselves in danger.

One thing I am pretty sure of is that drones will need to be regulated. As ownership of drones increases, I think the call for regulation is going to emerge. I just hope that call comes before drones fall into the wrong hands rather than as recourse.

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