How does a technology geek possess concerns about the lawless use of technology?
How does a civil libertarian appreciate our ever increasing knowledge and application of technology?
It is a bit of a conundrum.
The news this past week included word that our friends at Lockheed-Martin have come up with a new spy drone that is based on the physics of the maple seed. For the uninitiated, a maple seed has a pouch on one end. The balance of the seed is a broad thin blade. When the maple drops a seed, the blade naturally causes the seed to spin. The aerodynamics of the blade helps the seed stay in the air longer and thus be able to travel further from the tree before it reaches the ground.
This new spy drone has a pod on one end where the electronics lives. The blade is an airfoil like half of a helicopter rotor. There is a small engine with a propeller on the end of the blade that can drive the blade so the whole thing spins.
Unlike the maple seed, this drone...the Samarai...can fly up as well as down. It can also move forward, backwards, and side-to-side. They think it can even fly inside windows to snoop around inside buildings.
Just think of the fun!
Which is why so many folks that care about our ever intrusive government...and limiting that intrusiveness...were posting comments about this new bit of technology. Rich Lowry of the National Review suggests that such concerns are overblown. He thinks that past legal limitations on the use of past technology provide a reasonable model for how future technology will be similarly limited.
I'd really like to believe that.
One the one hand, I really am fine with using any and all technological advances to their fullest in our War on Terror.
On the other hand, I really want our law enforcement officers to have rules that limit their actions and respect our individual liberty. History suggests that such limitations are not always as effective as intended. It does not help that the current administration seems to be stuck on the idea that Americans who profess a preference for individual liberty are a greater terrorist threat than some extremist Jihadists that have spent so much time and effort at attacking Americans; military and otherwise.
I think you can see the problem.
The fortuitous aspect to the current discussion is that I have a book idea rolling around in my head. One of the sub-plots for this book has to do with the thorough use of surveillance technologies.
While I would like to say that this is a "win-win", I think the best I can do is a mild "tie-lose".