If some Americans are still paranoid about “black helicopters,” the new unmanned miniature versions should drive them further into sleeplessness. According to Wikipedia:
Black helicopters is a term which became popular in the militia movement and its associated political circles in the 1990s as a symbol and warning sign of an alleged conspiratorial military takeover of the United States. . . . Rumors would circulate that, for instance, the United Nations patrolled the US with unmarked black helicopters, or that federal agents used black helicopters to enfore wildlife laws.
Well the technology has gotten a lot more sophisticated lately. Today, we have miniature, remote-controlled helicopters and other UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that can do much the same thing as traditional helicopters, only without pilots.
Modern digital cameras and other sensors are providing sharper images, shinking in size, and becoming more energy efficient. The RC helicopters and their monitoring equipment are now so small, that we might not even realize that we are under high-resolution, intensive surveillance. And the cost for all this spy technology is almost trivial, particularly if we build it ourselves.
A friend at a local university is working on a fleet of small UAVs (fixed wing) that is being used to obtain hi-res images for use in a variety of land and water engineering applications. The drones are low-cost and easy to operate. And a miniature helicopter is in the design stages. The fixed wing aircraft are being used for projects that cover larger areas. The helicopters will be used where more hovering is required.
The digital cameras in the UAVs take amazingly clear photographs, think satellite images on steroids, and video footage, and have fast turnaround on image processing. Suddenly, we don’t even have privacy in our own backyards. Cities could use these aerial photographs to insure we are keeping a neat yard, that you don’t have too many pets, etc. The paparazzi can now get photographs of topless starlets without dealing with issues like trespass.
And the size of the helicopters and other UAVs will continue to shrink in size. Within the next few years, they will shrink to the size of a house fly, and probably even smaller.
As we move into the future, we will continue to lose more and more of our privacy. How important is our personal privacy?