Friday, April 12, 2013
We are not alone.
I hope we don't have to get used to the constant surveillance they make possible and it's not just the invasion of our private spaces by government agencies I'm alarmed about. Various people and groups of people with all kinds of ideas about what you're doing, aren't doing and should be doing are now able to watch and record from hundreds of feet above wherever you are.
PETA, one of those well-intentioned groups whose sentimentally extremist views about things like the personhood and civil rights of insects isn't the kind of organization I want watching me if I'm out in the woods or down at the dock fishing seeing as for them, fish are sensitive and loving and self aware creatures and catching them is murder. But hunters are evil too as are those with leather shoes or eating sushi and PETA intends to "monitor those who are out in the woods with death on their minds," according to a press release. Those feral hogs we have here need to be protected against my violating their civil rights as well, and what about the local butcher shops! Death on their minds! But according to the FAA, as long as you fly your Hammacher Schlemmer drone below 400 feet, there's no problem with areal reconnaissance. For extremists, kooks, voyeurs and fanatics, it's a whole new day.
"The average person has no worries" is the kind of 'reassurance' one expects from advocates of random and warrantless stops and searches. Steve Hindi, president of yet another animal rights group called Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, assures us we have nothing to fear from him unless you have death on your mind. He likes to watch bird hunters and post video on line and sending links to law enforcement. Perhaps the average hunter has no worries but what looks like one thing may look like another thing from a TV camera from 40 stories in the air and after all, Steve doesn't want you hunting in the first place you evil carnivore Bambi murderer you.
Of course flying your drone a few hundred feet above people with shotguns has it's hazards. Drones have suffered mysterious failures and there's a lot of giggling going on in the bird shooting community. Might be some mirth in my back yard as well should there be an unidentified flying object hovering over my swimming pool, but I'm not sure the future doesn't hold endless drones over our heads and perhaps under our feet making sure we don't have aces up our sleeves or that we're not walking on the grass or filling out our golf score cards improperly or actually are playing cards with the guys like we said. But let he who is without sin not worry, right?
Drones are the future. Insurance companies are already 'offering' gadgets that record how fast you drive -- to save you money of course, but also to deny claims because you might have been observed at 5 over the limit. Red light cameras don't seem to reduce collisions at intersections and may actually be causing more, but hey, you have nothing to fear in our brave new world where you have so many big brothers watching our for you.