Police drones have been a staple of science fiction since the 60's. (I just read a Roger Zelazny story with them) Now that the federal government is encouraging local law enforcement to operate drones what do the Bots think about the legal and philosophical aspects of this once fiction becoming fact?
I don't like the thought of Big Brother watching me. I like even less the knowledge that there are genuine reasons why Big Brother would feel the need to deploy drones to patrol the Homeland.
Historically, acts of terrorism, nihilism, and civil unrest have resulted in a tightening of the government's control on the population, which not only inspires the protesters to more violent acts, but which puts the screws to the law-abiding citizens. Eventually they start to sympathise with the protesters, and then it's not far to go to reach the flashpoint of revolt.
A plethora of laws guarantees that there will be people breaking the law, which then results in the government having to enact yet more laws. For instance, murder is against the law--so why do we need to have laws against hate-crime murders, too?
Additionally, cuts in funding and in tax revenues mean that there are fewer police patrolling the streets, and so turning to drones (who only have to be paid for once) seems like a money-saving alternative to putting more cops on the beat. But drones don't have families and don't contribute anything to society the way living policemen can.
I can see where drone surveillance would have its place. It just saddens me that our society now requires such a thing.
... and more fun than those dumb red light cameras since they are moving targets.
Personally, I just think it will start an arms race of tech-savvy civilians figuring out how to hide themselves from the drones and the gov't having to spend more money developing technology to circumvent the countermeasures of the civilians.
Ultimately, the best way to defeat any detection system is to increase the level of noise. Deploying multiple copies and false signals means that the gov't will have to spend more and more time sorting the data, increasing the chances that the truth will go undetected. Think "Thomas Crown Affair."
The people who have been flying the UCAVs that bomb targets in Afghanistan have been fully trained, active duty combat pilots, mostly out of a base in NV. They come in, fly a mission, kill some people and go home to their families and watch the game on TV.
Drones are automatic if the only mission is surveillance, as the flight path can be programmed in, and the cameras and other detection systems can be set for automatic sweeps. Even though there is sophisticated software for sorting through the data, such as facial recognition software, humans still have to ultimately decide the value of the flagged data, have to fly the drones back for further investigation, or pilot the drones for bombing or strafing runs. Humans still have to make the arrests.
The most worrying trend that I see in law enforcement, however, is that cops are spending more time going after easy targets such as speeders and right-on-red violators in order to collect fines to cover their salaries, than they are pursuing criminals who are dangerous to apprehend and who tend to cost the justice system more than they bring in.
Everyone driving in western Washington knows to slow down at the end of the month when the cops are out trying to make their paychecks.