The Backstory: drones, privacy and assassinating Americans

One of the things I find most interesting about drones is that people often report hearing them, but not seeing them. I guess that’s how they are able to “sneak up” on terrorists and blow them up, though in a land devoid of lawn mowers and leaf blowers I would think that any loud buzzing sound might arouse more suspicions than it apparently does.

bwh135mpThe technology is amazing. The idea that one drone can literally monitor an area of 25-square-miles is almost incomprehensible. In the time of Bonnie & Clyde, once they made it past the town limits they were usually free of the law and could stop for a picnic somewhere. A modern Bonnie & Clyde could be tracked right into the next state and then some.

That actually has an appeal for anyone raising kids. Being able to flip on a screen and see where a kid has wandered off to would be a great boon for parents and grandparents.

Another interesting aspect of the DARPA system, other than names you can’t pronounce or remember, is the use of relatively low-tech camera lenses like those used in cell phones. Who says American ingenuity isn’t still alive and well? Maybe that will even create a new market for used cell phones. If the parts of an old phone are still usable, I could imagine cell phone junkyards the same way they do for cars. Well, it wouldn’t be outside and guarded by a big nasty dog, but you get the idea.

Keep an eye on the topic of privacy. What the government designs to track bad guys can just as easily be used on its own citizens, and our politicians have proven over and over they can’t be trusted to work in our best interest. In the past few decades the whole “me versus them” thing has infected the government to the point that people inside the government view themselves as in a different class than ordinary citizens.

Slowly but surely government workers are becoming more and more of a privileged class. The current president may think that is fair, certainly it is for him, but some still view it as tyranny. The Constitution is intended to protect us from government, and the average person today is just too busy with cell phones and reality TV to pay much attention to what is happening around them.

Drones are a great tool, but they can also be an instrument of abuse. Everyone needs to pay a LOT of attention to what is going on right now in the debate over presidential powers as enhanced by highly sophisticated technology. The old adage is true that once you let one rat in the door, others will follow.

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