Welcome to another episode of “Would You Stop Inventing Things Already?” the blog in which we examine technology which is taking over our lives.
Today’s subject is drones.
Not the bee kind of drone, of course. Bee drones are nice. They make honey and they can’t even sting you because their stingers are ovipositors, which is a word I just learned and which I think is a character in the new Transformers movie.
I’m also not talking about office drones, the cubicle-dwelling folks who perform the same repetitive tasks every day until something snaps and, for about 45 minutes, the country wishes it had stronger gun control legislation. This also isn’t about Mrs. Houston, my monotoned fifth grade Spanish teacher, who was boring in two languages.
Of course I am talking about flying, non-bee, remote controlled drones.
This technology was harmless enough at its inception, when it was just used by the military to bomb the hell out of terrorists and anyone in their immediate vicinity. When I say “harmless,” obviously, I mean “to us,” by which I refer to American citizens on American soil who have done nothing to make the government suspicious and try to spend as much time as possible amid large crowds of innocent people that the government wouldn’t dare consider to be collateral damage. We hope.
But now these unmanned menaces have proliferated to the point where the National Park Service has felt it necessary to ban them from all National Parks. I’m serious. I imagine bears have been seen at the tops of trees swatting at the things as if filming an extremely low-budget remake of King Kong.
Just this week, a pair of drones almost took out an NYPD helicopter. And officials are also concerned about the use of drones to film fireworks displays. Evidently, there is a risk that the drones, while flying through the bursts of brightly colored explosives, could “reflect” some of the pyrotechnics toward the crowd, or themselves be shot down by bottle rocket anti-aircraft artillary and plummet to the earth. This could cause serious injuries or massive fires which, I firmly believe, is a small price to pay for such thrilling footage.
I knew that drones had put society in peril when my wife informed me that they had one at work. There are two things you should know about this:
- My wife works in real estate.
- My wife has trouble flying a frisbee.
Apparently real estate firms all over the country are now equipped with drones so that they can shoot aerial photography of their properties and perhaps fire a missile at that similar 4-bedroom down the street that’s listed for $20,000 less. The pictures allow prospective buyers to get a bird’s eye view of the entire lot, the condition of the roof, and, if we can tilt the camera a little to the right, the neighbors in their hot tub.
If you’ve ever been in an automobile being driven by a real estate agent through a residential neighborhood, you know that the thought of an agent operating an aircraft of any kind is almost too horrible to contemplate. “I was trying to get a better view of that illegal deck,” they might tell the arresting officer, “and I didn’t see the satellite dish.”
Fortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration is threatening to crack down on the use of drones by realtors, citing a regulation that they (the drones) can’t be used for commercial purposes. The Feds are also worried that the aircraft may be used for spying on private citizens. Regarding this, a government spokesperson said “That’s our job!”
Of course, your local Open House officiant is not the only one who has his or her hands on advanced military weaponry.
Jeff Bezos does, too. As he famously announced between overactive bladder commercials on 60 Minutes, Bezos may be looking into the use of drones to make deliveries for Amazon. There is some speculation that the demonstration was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, possibly a warning to Amazon’s competition, which is every other company on Earth. “Just so you know,” Bezos seemed to be saying, “we can put you out of business anytime we really want to. We’re only allowing you to live a bit longer.”
So this is what our world has come to. Within a year or two, our skies will resemble air combat footage from World War II movies, with Amazon’s drones crashing into real estate drones while the more nimble local pizza delivery drones navigate between the explosions, and the News Team 28 drone gets video of the falling debris, and greedy citizens stand on the ground looking skyward, hoping the box that the Amazon drone just dropped is something valuable. And lightweight.
I’m thinking it may be time to get to work on my pedestrian helmet business.
See you soon.