Saturday, February 4, 2012

Asimov is Spinning in His Grave

I was listening to Nation Public Radio yesterday and I heard about the proliferation of drone aircraft in the USA. It's a growth industry, soon lots of folks will be fly their drones around taking pictures and seeing the sights. A caller asked the "experts" whether this might constitute some sort of danger to the public. He was dismissed with the answer:
"Oh no, the drones will be subject to the same FAA regulations that are imposed on the privately owned and operated small planes."
The moderator let this pass completely unchallenged. I was stunned. The "expert" didn't seem to recognize that one of the things that keep privately operated planes from flying into buildings, small dogs, and children is the fact that the pilots would die. Someone sitting on their sofa in front of the TV flying their drone with a Gameboy... not so much. Most of us drive on the right side of the road most of the time because we'd die if we didn't; not because it's the law. Self interest and self preservation are far more effective than all the laws, rules, and regulations in the world. We humans seem to be engaged in a massive experiment on ourselves, one without any control group. Worse of all, we seem to think that if something turns out to be a bad idea, well, then we'll just stop doing that some day in the future. When did that ever happen?
It is proving very hard to disabuse some folks of the idea that it is wise multitasking to back your car up in a crowded parking lot while talking on a cell phone... or that allowing adolescents access to semi automatic weapons is a good idea. Once the tooth paste is squeezed out of the tube it never gets put back in. Let's get a few thousand drone aircraft in the skies above us and see what happens. Why not?
Oh, and by the way; I expect propaganda and garbage from Fox News, and the lawyers at the major networks have them spouting inoffensive pabulum, but I had higher expectations from NPR. When the best sucks, we're all in trouble. This is the second or third time that they have completely dropped the ball on this robotics experiment we're conducting.
Didn't anyone see the Terminator movies? You think those were far fetched? Just wait and see what technology comes up with next. Not everybody out there is just doing research on new kinds of pizza and lip stick.