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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Microstory 983: Drones

When people hear the word drone, they tend to think of two things; pointless little remote-controlled toys, or remotely piloted killing machines used for wiping terrorists off the map. Drones have so many more applications, and I’m sad to admit that I believe we’re very far behind on these developments, based on how long they have existed. I’m not sure what the amateur drone pilot is getting out of flying around the neighborhood. Are they spying on hot housewives getting out of the shower? Or is that pile of bricks in the back of their neighbor’s yard a fascinating thing to watch? This technology can be used to save lives, or increase safety. In a pretty early installment of The Advancement of Leona Matic, way back in 2015, a car broke down in the middle of nowhere. Instead of waiting for a tow truck that’s hours away, they summon a patrolling drone, who shows up within minutes. Using advanced software—possibly including artificial intelligence—it was able to scan under the hood, and diagnose what was wrong with it. It was then able to call for a driverless rental vehicle, accept payment via thumbprint, and even play music while they waited. Had a serial killer showed up to attack them, it would have been able to record his face, and contact emergency services. This is just one example of what a solar-powered drone could do. Besides regular maintenance, these little things can keep watch over rural roads pretty much indefinitely. Even deeper in the wilderness, a similar device can guard the hiking trails. A hiker can buy an emergency beacon to call a nearby drone in a dire situation. It can carry water, minimal rations, medical provisions, and other supplies. Hell, you could even commission one of these to literally follow you around everywhere you go. Maybe they can boost a signal to a satellite phone, or keep in constant communication with some kind of OnStar type service. Two to four of these can come together and take hold of a stretcher, if it’ll take too long for traditional rescue solutions to arrive. In a major disaster, a fleet of drones can be dispatched to hunt for the injured, and other survivors. After it’s all over, they can look for victims in hostile environments, long before it’s safe enough for a human rescuer venture there. Drones don’t have to be used only to murder people, or for fun that you get tired of after awhile. They don’t even just have to be used by law enforcement agencies for reconnaissance, or general surveillance. It’s estimated that millions of drones will be in the skies within the next two years, for various purposes, 30,000 of which will be stateside. Let’s try to make that number refer primarily to socially responsible usage, rather than unethical privacy invasion, or death. Drones have the capacity to make life safer and easier. Or they can destroy everything humanity holds dear, and lead the way to the destruction of civilization. I don’t love drones now. I love more what they have the potential to become.

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