August 10, 2012
Nationwide, the surveillance drone rollout is causing a stir and heads to turn as government, flush with an endless supply of taxpayer money, rapidly introduces the technology. “Some are as large and fast as commercial airplanes,” Scientific American wrote in January. “Some are blimps that sit in the sky, surveying broad swaths of territory. Others flit around imperceptibly, like birds or insects, recording videos and landing themselves.”
During his morning commute in Austin, Texas, Alex Jones noticed the kind of drone favored by police about 120 feet above the roadway. Traffic slowed, backed up and pulled off the road to see what appeared to be a UFO as the small helicopter-like machine circled overhead photographing traffic. A contract worker for the highway department stood to one side of the road maneuvering the machine with a handheld control box.
With his iPhone video camera running, Alex engaged the pilot in friendly conversation. He mentioned a number of disturbing events, including the ominous prospect of police outfitting the devices with weapons and the EPA spying on cattle ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa. Alex also mentioned the unnerving experience of journalist and publisher Joseph Farah, an outspoken Obama critic, who was the victim of drone surveillance at his remote home in northern Virginia.
The drone pilot defended the increased usage of the machines. He seemed genuinely flummoxed by the Big Brother aspects mentioned by Jones. He innocently compared the surveillance capabilities of drones to that of Google Map’s satellite imagery and said there are currently around five of the devices being used in Austin. The man explained to Alex that the drone was being used to video tape miles of roadway.
Alex’s impromptu roadside video underscores how drones originally developed for offensive military use are now finding their way into mundane domestic situations, thus lowering our natural resistance to their intrusive presence and acclimating the populace to the increased use of the devices by government and corporations alike.
Fifty years ago, the idea of militarized police driving around in armored vehicles in full battle apparel was almost unthinkable. Now it is commonplace and readily accepted as necessary, thanks to years of incessant propaganda following the 9/11 attacks.
The same process is at work as aerial drones are introduced. In a few short years, drone technology will be accepted as a normal aspect of local law enforcement and will be used without question for assorted business applications. The FAA is working behind the scenes to open our government regulated skies to their obtrusive presence.
Moreover, the headlong rush into automated technology contains a dark and menacing underside. Not only are government and military developing and implementing the technology devoid of human supervision and interaction – on the battlefield and beyond – but the prospect of “trans-humanism” and its perverted obsession with genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology also poses a threat to humanity.
Alex’s roadside interaction with the drone pilot is a macrocosm view of a threat only dimly understood prior to the advent of the microchip and cheaply mass-produced electronics. In the months and years ahead – if the trend now underway continues – we will face a dystopian nightmare harrowingly foretold by George Orwell and Philip K. Dick as government employs ever more sophisticated technology to monitor, track and ultimately control our every move.