Mac Slavo
October 18th, 2012

A decade ago drones were bulky looking aircraft controlled by complex computer systems requiring multiple pilots, and were reserved exclusively for military and foreign intelligence operations.

But technological advancements in just the last five years in the areas of handheld computer hardware, high definition cameras, live streaming and miniaturized flight control have radically changed the playing field and promise to revolutionize the surveillance industry in ways that are almost impossible to imagine.

This is a technology that’s a game changer. It’s been so on the military side and it will be the same on the civilian side.

Drone surveillance platforms have a wide variety of  applications in government and commercial industry, including law enforcement, fire fighting, private security, agriculture, journalism, pipeline inspection, traffic analysis, emergency preparedness, and disaster recovery.

As was the case with the invention of the computer, some people, like Wired magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson, suggest a ‘drone in every home’ is beginning to seem like a distinct possibility. From vacuuming the carpet and sweeping your patio, to walking your dog and ensuring your child gets to school safely, there’s likely no shortage of Americans who would be willing and ready to invite them into their homes.

While proponents tout the many benefits of drone technology, not everyone thinks they are as cool as they may look at first glance. Civil liberties groups and anti-drone activists note that having thousands of all-seeing-eyes in the skies over America watching our every move, listening to our conversations and even using thermal imaging to see what we’re doing in our homes poses a serious risk to personal freedoms and privacy.

Watch: The Rise of the Machines USA

Hat tip NinaO

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