This weekend, I made a quick trip down to San Antonio to visit my grandparents, and had a good time flying a drone for the first time. My grandpa, who always seems to have the latest and greatest gadgets, recently outdid himself by getting a drone. That’s right, drones are for normal people too, not just power-hungry governments. This one in particular had GPS tracking, an HD video camera, and great stabilization technology. What’s even cooler is that it can be flown using an iPhone.
Flying this thing with my own two hands was really fun, and also made me think. Drones are being used more and more in the United States for various purposes, and it’s surprising more is not being said about this significant change in how we interact with such technology. Most people are indifferent or ignorant in regards to how drones can (or are) being used to invade privacy - and in some countries, take lives. That said, I think it would be interesting to conduct a social experiment that would proceed in the following fashion:
Go to a public space (a park, town square, etc), set up the drone in an unobtrusive “takeoff point”, and conceal yourself somewhere so that it will not be apparent to onlookers who is flying the machine. Then, begin to fly the drone around at various altitudes, focusing in on certain people while capturing their reactions using the built-in video camera. My hypothesis is that people would react with confusion, perhaps curiosity, and in some cases, anger. In any case, this would be an interesting case study - not to mention a potentially very entertaining and educational video. Thinking about this reminded me of a drone captured on video in Geneva last year:
It’s interesting to ponder how society will be impacted by the ascendance of automated technology including, but not limited to, drones and other autonomous aircraft. It’s worth viewing this inevitable scenario not through our own eyes, but through the eyes of the machines we have created - a perspective that may prove to be just as unsettling as it is necessary.