The unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) is the technological invention that turns more and more industries around today. Every day the news reports for a new innovative use of the drones, unheard and unbelievable, which could be a disruptive innovation in a certain field. Military forces, media, archeology, and businesses – they all change because of the drones. The question, though, is what is the nature of this change? Are drones making our lives easier, or are they solving short-term problems, thus creating long-term disasters?
There is no answer to these questions. As every genius technological invention, the drone has its pros and cons. For sure its development benefits one, and harms other, but it is not about the drone itself, but the usage different people make of it. So, answering these questions, would be answering the question about the nature of human behavior. It just depends.
A week ago, BBC posted an article describing an interesting event in Dubai – a competition on the demonstration of the different usages of the drone technology which can benefit civilians. This competition challenged different teams to think how society can actually benefit of the unmanned aerial vehicles, and presented solutions which bear unbelievable changes for the society. A competition, or only one prize, can incentivize teams to deliver solutions that could change the nature (clear fog, plant trees), automate human labor, and be the ears and eyes on places and events, where no man can go. This two-day challenge serves as evidence that drone technology could be beneficial, and that is indeed a great invention.
However, a simple adjustment to all these drones shown on the competition, can convert them into an invisible human enemies. On a London drone exhibition, Superflux showed how a drone can basically: “see a man, scan his face, and quickly look up his criminal record. Elsewhere, a traffic drone spies on vans and cars, checking their emissions and identifying illegal drivers. Another hovers in a living room, sees a little girl has a cat on her T-shirt, makes an algorithmic decision, and feeds a cat-related advert to her parent’s phone”, BBC reports. Drones thus create an invisible world of information – drone-mediated reality, where every kind of data is accessible. This is an example of the usage of an existing technology to understand the material world, and collect the information behind it. A simple drone can meet us on the street and report all available information about ourselves and in addition report our current emotions.
The inaccessible is now accessible, yet controllable and uncontrollable. Drones interfere in wars, media, archeology, society and make a change. How one perceives this change is just a matter of point of view.