Saturday, May 19, 2007

Big Brother Takes Flight

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAV's, were once the subject of science fiction (Real Genius, anyone?), but the one thing this illegal invasion of a sovereign nation (aka, the horribly misnamed "Iraq War") has proven is that UAV's are here to stay. With "an astonishing 80%" of all military flights in Iraq being flown by UAV's today, these remote controlled/robot planes have proven their worth as bloodless soldiers in the military skies, from surveillance to full on hunter/killers.

Despite the rampant warning we have received from countless scifi films about the wisdom of allowing semi-autonomous vehicles of speed and strength roaming the skies, these UAV's are slowly seeping their way into the civilian skies. This Popular Mechanics article focuses on their ever increasing presence in our day to day lives, as Big Brother straps on his goggles and takes to the air. As with all such adoptions of military technology to civilian matters, the first incursions are benign: forest fire monitoring, border patrol, even search and rescue. However, it doesn't take an oracle to see the black and white paint being slapped on in less than 5 years to assist police with urban pacification.

It's awe-inspiring, creepy, and generally good when humans can be spared dangerous jobs, but the applications of this technology to the individual are definitely worth keeping an eye on. After all, that next speeding ticket you get might not be from the cruiser with the radar gun, but from the cruise missile with the laser target designator.

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