Quoted: on the rise of drones

“We’ll forget that drones were once a defense industry thing and we’ll think of it as something you’ll buy at Walmart.”

Chris Anderson, founder of 3D Robotics, which among other things makes a $500 GPS-equipped drone farmers use to track crop conditions. Anderson, the longtime editor of Wired, announced late last year he would leave the magazine to run 3D Robotics. Domestic drones becoming mainstream would inevitably raise privacy issues. “The technology of surveillance is becoming retail, and that will pose real challenges to our traditional notion of privacy,” Catherine Crump, an ACLU attorney, told CNNMoney. Congress and several state legislatures have bills before them this year proposing limits on unmanned aircraft equipped with cameras, according to USA Today, amid concerns about privacy and constitutional rights and the possibility of becoming a police state. But what Anderson is saying is drone use is on the rise and isn’t limited to those in positions of power; in 2011, Occupy Wall Street protesters used a Parrot AR drone they dubbed the “occucopter” to watch the police watch them. Anderson tells American Public Media’s Marketplace: “Do we limit the technology so we can’t use it for ill? I would ask you the same thing about your phone or your computer. General-purpose technologies are incredibly empowering, they change the world, but by definition they don’t limit the way you use it. If somebody’s going to do something stupid, you can’t stop them.”


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  • dermbuilder

    If we are allowed to own assualt weapons, we should be allowed to
    have general purpose drone aircraft. Otherwise it would be like
    saying that the 2nd amendment only grants us the right to own a
    flintlock musket or a muzzle loading flintlock pistol, because those
    were the only guns available at the time the 2nd amendment was
    ratified. I know that it’s an imperfect analogy, but I think you get
    my point.

  • Patrick

    And of course, shoulder-fired anti aircraft missiles, to shoot down the tyrant’s black helicopters when they come for us. I’m always amazed that rational people get drawn into arguing the 2nd, it’s like arguing about what the bible means and just as pointless.

  • Tom Allen

    Are we allowed to catch drones if they hover over our backyards? How about blinding them with a laser if they spy on us? Or blinding them with reflected sunlight? If we can’t prevent drones from observing our backyards, are we allowed to have umbrellas? Those would prevent police drones from seeing quite everything; will backyard umbrellas become illegal?

    I prefer the option to counter the drone camera with a targeted low power laser beam. Who is with me? This hide-and-seek escalation could be good business for Silicon Valley.