Friday, June 27, 2014

Drones On Farms (Part 1)

Imagine an afternoon when all the stars have aligned, you have completed all your work, you're alone, and have nothing to do. I know it never happens, but lets imagine it anyway. You check your doors and windows and make sure they're locked, then you yawn, and start a nice afternoon nap.

Suddenly you are awakened by a bright flash. Before you can say, "holy cheese and crackers (instead of something unprintable on this blog!)," you see a man standing in your bedroom taking a picture of you sleeping with drool on the pillow and everything. But what's more, the man is not just any man, he is part of the self proclaimed Behavior Police. He's looking out for all of us.

What offends you the most about this hypothetical?

  • Breaking and entering your house?
  • The invasion of privacy and posting of your sleeping and drooling photo on the internet?
  • The fact that he's reporting on your behavior to see if you live up to his standards?

Personal Space

We all have personal space, whether we're on a crowded bus or in our house. We have expectations about how other people interact with that. For instance, if you have a door to your house, which I assume everyone does, you would expect someone, a stranger, to knock before entering. If your door was locked you would expect it to keep them out. Let's say you have a yard of any size. Do strange people play in  your yard? No. It is your space. Like your house, other people should ask before they "play" in your yard or come into your house. 

Does that sound logical?

Drones Are All Seeing

Farms are no different than houses and yards. Farms have fences and gates and these define property lines. They define personal space for the farm. In other words, just like you should knock before entering someone else's house, you should ask the property owner for permission before going on a farm. 

Unlike people, drones can fly right over fences, and barns, and houses. They can choose to ignore personal space and property lines and courtesy. Drones are all seeing. Go ahead and ask Tom Cruise if you don't believe me.

And according to one meme making its way around the internet and the following Kickstarter group that kind of thinking is okay. They want to use drones to fly over farms to make sure the farmers are behaving correctly. They want to investigate "factory farms." Unlike most normal people, they are choosing to ignore courtesy and want to, figuratively if not literally, break down gates and fences and enter farms whenever they choose. When the police do this they have to have a search warrant or probable cause.

But obviously this group, while they are completely behind free speech, don't care about privacy, or at least other people's privacy. 

All people are not good. We have prisons to prove this. And I'm not saying all farmers are good. There are farmers that make mistakes, or do wrong on purpose just like they are people who make mistakes and do wrong on purpose in every walk of life

What I am questioning is the use of drones to spy on people and report on their behavior, and not just because someone-has-to-make-sure-people-aren't-making-bad-choices, but also for a profit (think tv promos, book deals, and speeches). Where does it go from here? Should we use drones to check up on over weight people to make sure they don't pig out on Oreo's in the privacy of their own home? Isn't it in the public's best interest that people eat healthy? Should drones sit in bathroom stalls of restaurants and report on the cooks' hand washing habits? Someone needs to make sure they don't make customers sick, right? 

Where does it end?  

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