In a previous article, we discussed automating our military and some of the possible ominous things that might come about as we turn more and more of our lives over to machines and the small group of people who control them. It is truly terrifying to imagine a nefarious, power hungry organization in control of enough military hardware to kill citizens at will and indiscriminately. We obviously tend to doubt that it will actually come to that, but freedom requires vigilance and these are the kinds of things we have to think about to keep it.
On another facet, one of the things that this brave new world of automation introduces is the risk of further diminishing our ability to maintain privacy in our lives. We have already given up so much in the form of social media and the use of public cameras and software that tracks every bit of information available about us to be sold to big corporations. The odds of maintaining any vestige of privacy at all seems bleak in the face of what technology is pushing these days.
Specifically, we are seeing a push for automated drone deliveries of materials by companies like Amazon, who has already begun the major testing push to get the service started in some areas of the country. On the surface, this sounds like an amazing feat of technology…and it is. However, there is potentially a dark side to this new way of brining goods to our doorsteps: mobile surveillance.
Anyone who watches YouTube on a regular basis is quite aware of the fact that small, portable drones have been used for more than a decade to record those amazing aerial shots we all love to watch. Attaching a camera to these drones was one of the first things that people thought to do when the devices became available, and there is an entire career field out there for professional drone pilots. The demand for high quality overhead footage isn’t going anywhere, and drones are becoming more and more a part of our daily lives.
Where this gets a bit scary is when we consider the fact that there are so many types of small, lightweight cameras out there that can be attached to drones just like the ones that Amazon is using. Imagine delivery drones buzzing around with an array of cameras collecting all sorts of information about people as they zip past us. Regular cameras for navigation, thermal cameras to peek inside houses and get an idea of how many people live in a given place, and facial recognition software to track people as they move about.
If this sounds paranoid to you, you might be right, but sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. We already know that there is a major push by law enforcement to ramp up the use of facial recognition software to track people as they move about, which is a huge threat to the privacy of all citizens. It has been long established that the phone companies have been giving the government data on US citizens for a very long time now. With this sort of precedent, it isn’t really much of stretch to imagine the federal intelligence agencies tapping companies like Amazon to add a few devices to their innocuous looking drones.
The reality is that we live in a world where there are two types of people: those of us who want to be left alone, and those who believe they know better and should be running things. If you are part of the former, you are at a significant disadvantage because we tend to do our own thing while the latter group together to try to wrestle control from the rest of us. They have no regard for what we think is right or wrong, only that they have an agenda and will go to any length to make it happen. If you get trampled in the process, then so be it.
I’m not sure what we can really do about it at this point, other than pointing out the possible dangers involved with moving forward with things like this. The more people are educated, the better the chance we have of banding together and pushing back against the people in the world who believe that they are somehow qualified to tell the rest of us what to do. Fighting it requires behaving in a way that is unnatural to us, but unfortunately freedom isn’t free, as the saying goes.
What do you think about drone deliveries? Is it only an awesome new technology that will add a new convenience to our lives, or is it a threat to our privacy? Are you comfortable with corporately operated drones buzzing around your home? What if we found out the government was using them to spy on us? These are important questions, and if you look a little deeper, they aren’t nearly as crazy as they first sound.
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