Insect Drones

Sharon at Wired’s Danger Room links to a great Washington Post article on recent sightings of robotic insects at political events around Washington, raising questions as to whether the government is field-testing, or otherwise deploying, micro surveillance drones.

It raises, or at least brings to the forefront, some interesting questions – is it overt surveillance if you simply don’t notice it? – but much more excitingly, at least for those of a geekish bent, it brings us one large step closer to the near-future dystopia Neal Stephenson envisioned in his novel The Diamond Age.

It’s a safe bet that over the next year, an assortment of freaks, geeks, wierdos, and MIT students are going to be day-tripping to political rallies and demonstrations along the east coast, in the hopes of “capturing” an honest-to-goodness micro UAV, the (probably) closest thing to the nanotech of Stephenson’s world around today. Not a lot of freaks, geeks, or wierdos, perhaps, but at least a few true believers. Whether motivated by curiosity, greed, or something else entirely, the challenge to capture a dragonfly-that-isn’t will, I expect, have no shortage of takers. It doesn’t really matter that there’s no concrete proof of their existence; there is still, as they say, that greatest of all gifts, hope.

For that matter, supposing swarms of these devices have been used in recent months, how many are unaccounted for? What’s the failure rate? And, perhaps more importantly, might there be any laying around in gutters or caught on tree branches, left behind by their human masters, and free for the taking?

Nets at the ready; wait for it… Roboentomologists, charge!

Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 9th, 2007| Comments Off on Insect Drones

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