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December 13, 2013 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Our Drone Future — A short film by Alex Cornell. "Created with DJI Phantom Drones, After Effects, Premier, Logic, GoPro, and a liberal interpretation of FAA regulations". If not actually the future of domestically deployed drones, it's probably the future of sub-$2K filmmaking hardware (if you don't include the software licenses and, um, FAA fines).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich (31 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hi, folks. I know you feel like you're being evicted from the shrinking intersection between those against corporate and/or government drone surveillance and those against private firearm ownership, but I'm not jumping ship. Sit awhile and keep me company, would you? I'll make tea.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Better flag that Citroën. Those people don't color inside the lines.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Drones are highly visible to those being watched, and few appreciate it. The "citizen" shooting it out of the sky must be some sort of allegory for what is likely to happen.
posted by stbalbach at 12:02 PM on December 13, 2013


I can never quite decide how I feel about the cheap, ubiquitous R/C that is coming available.

On one hand, in responsible hands, you can get really cool videos/films, not to mention the many scientific or education uses.

On the other, when formally esoteric things become widely available, it's almost certain that idiots come along to ruin it. The first time some creeper gets caught spying on underage girls or the paparazzi figure out how to use it to follow someone important, draconian regulations will come down fast.

(And that's not even touching on the inevitable abuse by government.)
posted by madajb at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much as I like a good cyberpunk dystopia, this particular scenario doesn't really capture the properly terrifying aspects of domestic drone usage.

It's not that we're worried about sultry female AIs swooping overhead with high-resolution cameras and rocket launchers; it's that we're concerned about disaffected midlevel functionaries with inflated senses of their own authority and importance abusing an unchecked surveillance apparatus.
posted by fifthrider at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know you feel like you're being evicted from the shrinking intersection between those against corporate and/or government drone surveillance and those against private firearm ownership, but I'm not jumping ship.

As a kid, I used to head up into the woods with my friends to hunt dragonflies. While they used BB guns, I would take them out with a sling shot and the fast swing of a stick... while in retrospect it wasn't particularly PETA or eco friendly... there's still an intersection for this. It is hard to reach a drone hovering over the GGB with a stick; however there are plenty of primal and rube goldberg techniques which could still be employed, as well as ewok... and ultimately if you need some additional inspiration there's always troy hurtubise.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:13 PM on December 13, 2013


"As much as I like a good cyberpunk dystopia, this particular scenario doesn't really capture the properly terrifying aspects of domestic drone usage."

Yeah, he could have written a much more interesting and disturbing narrative about this topic. And using people he knows with locations he can get away with "surveilling" (like those people's homes), the practicalities surrounding verisimilitude could have been navigated.

Really, this looks to me like a kind of tech and production demonstration. Which is fine with me, because that's the part that I found interesting.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:14 PM on December 13, 2013


This is not a portrayal of a near future, in terms of a year or two or three, but it is definitely a possible future in the longer term.

I work on semi-autonomous voice-controlled drones, and while current abilities are very limited there is government interest (NASA, FAA, military) in research to give drones the ability to take simple voice commands over radio links, so that if a drone loses communications with its controller for some reason a nearby air traffic controller can direct it somewhere safe. That's how it starts...

Drones are highly visible to those being watched.

That's not always true. They can be small and relatively quiet, and recently there were a couple articles hypothesizing that drones are blamed for airstrikes that are actually being carried out by manned aircraft, just because you can't even hear a Predator-type drone at 15,000 feet (which is reportedly the altitude at which the U.S. Border Patrol, for example, operates them).
posted by jjwiseman at 12:16 PM on December 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Surely the "I'm ready for my close-up" chick at the end would have had a ski mask or something on.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:24 PM on December 13, 2013


Or CV dazzle makeup for the proper futuristic feel.
posted by jjwiseman at 12:27 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just saw a DHL drone making a delivery today. That's when I reach for my MANPADS.
posted by brokkr at 12:29 PM on December 13, 2013


Personally, I'm ok with a drone future that includes regular shoot-downs of said drones.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:30 PM on December 13, 2013


The biggest danger is from collisions. It is real and under appreciated.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:40 PM on December 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drones are pretty cheap, so I think concealment & deception might be better strategies than destruction. And if you're going to break out the MANPAD, well, this is a transcript from the system I developed for the Air Force Research Lab where you talk to an AI system doing close air support (Hog is the AI pilot, Gunslinger is the forward air controller/JTAC):
Hog:        Gunslinger, contact village.
Gunslinger: Hog, village is Seattle.
Hog:        Gunslinger, copy, I have the Seattle layout.
Gunslinger: Hog, copy.  Call contact building echo four.
Hog:        Contact echo four.
Gunslinger: Hog, target is MANPAD on roof of building echo four, call contact.
Hog:        Gunslinger, tally MANPAD, departing IP at this time.

posted by jjwiseman at 12:42 PM on December 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


So the AI refuses to go any further when the forward air controller tells it to attack someone who can destroy it?
posted by rustcrumb at 12:47 PM on December 13, 2013


As much as I like a good cyberpunk dystopia, this particular scenario doesn't really capture the properly terrifying aspects of domestic drone usage.

I'm with you on this. The effects were visually nice, but it doesn't really capture the real crazyfactor of these things being commonplace.
posted by odinsdream at 12:48 PM on December 13, 2013


The first time some creeper gets caught spying on underage girls or the paparazzi figure out how to use it to follow someone important, draconian regulations will come down fast.

Mark my words - it is a matter of time before someone puts one of these copters into the intake of an airliner.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:50 PM on December 13, 2013


So the AI refuses to go any further when the forward air controller tells it to attack someone who can destroy it?

No, "departing IP" (initial point) signals the beginning of an attack run.
posted by jjwiseman at 12:52 PM on December 13, 2013


I intend to treat drone and filming regulations like I do most things. I'm gonna risk it. Let the laws try to get ahead, then watch them pay catch up, then it'll be legal to do whatever I've been doing all along. This stuff is not new. People have been doing ariel photo and video for decades.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:54 PM on December 13, 2013


I do fancy the concept of disposable drones.
posted by Ardiril at 1:16 PM on December 13, 2013


I just came from reading news of the latest school shooting (only 2 injured before the shooter killed himself, it looks like, thankfully) in the US. Now having a gloomy thought about how drones might be used by future school shooters.
posted by Bwithh at 1:20 PM on December 13, 2013


So the AI refuses to go any further when the forward air controller tells it to attack someone who can destroy it?

Er, no, the point was that the AI somehow had the ability to disregard human operator orders to move along, and began shooting at humans independently.

Of the many completely unrealistic elements in this short, that aspect was perhaps the worst.
posted by Ryvar at 3:04 PM on December 13, 2013


At around 0:42, it looks like he flew it over the actual roadway of the Golden Gate bridge at slightly above the maximum height of one of the towers (about 500ft over the roadway according to this). If he had made one little mistake during that pass (such as one or more of the rotors accidentally clipping part of the tower), we might be reading a story about people in cars below being injured and/or killed instead of watching this trite little short film. That to me says a lot more about "our drone future" than anything this film is saying via its actual content.
posted by Potsy at 3:19 PM on December 13, 2013


"this particular scenario doesn't really capture the properly terrifying aspects of domestic drone usage. . . we're concerned about disaffected midlevel functionaries with inflated senses of their own authority and importance abusing an unchecked surveillance apparatus."

So, drones are "properly terrifying" because idiots can abuse their position to spy on -- and interfere with -- others, such as exes, etc.?

Gee... good thing that we don't have a bunch of people with guns, authority, and LOTS of ability to spy on, arrest, threaten, or abuse others at will with that kind of unchecked power already, right?!

I'm sorry, but if people abusing new tech scares you, perhaps you should notice just how much sh*t people can get away with with the old and trusted?!
posted by markkraft at 5:07 PM on December 13, 2013


I love me some military-sounding radio gibberish. Never fails to amuse.
posted by klanawa at 5:37 PM on December 13, 2013


Potsy: "we might be reading a story about people in cars below being injured and/or killed"

I think you grossly overestimate the size and weight of these drones. The DJI Phantom is 35x35x19 cms, including the rotors, and has a max takeoff weight of less than a kilogram. If he'd clipped a tower, in the event that the drone would even fall onto the roadway (unlikely from that height, if there's any wind), it would either be run over by a car, causing no damage to the car, or fall onto a car, bounce off, and then be run over by another car. I doubt it could even crack a windscreen.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:44 PM on December 13, 2013


It is interesting to see how the boundary is shifting in usage of the terms drone and toy helicopter.
posted by snofoam at 4:00 AM on December 15, 2013


One of my biggest fantasies is this:

I wish there were minuscule drones that could capture every minute of my day. Tiny little cameras that would record my life and allow me to store the data somewhere and check it out to view, like in a library. Or maybe by subscription - the Little Red Envelope of Your Life.

You could encrypt it so it wasn't editable or viewable by anyone other than yourself.

You could have this amazing photographic memory from birth. Or have parties where other people have you over to show you their lives. "Where Were You When.....?" parties or something.

When you passed on, you could leave it as a memento mori for your children and friends.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:16 AM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lipstick Thespian: if you like that idea, you should watch Black Mirror season 1 episode 3. It's an interesting exploration of that concept.
posted by Adamsmasher at 11:35 AM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If a Drone Strike Hit an American Wedding, We'd Ground Our Fleet. But after a dozen or more deaths at a Yemeni wedding, don't expect anything to change.
posted by homunculus at 6:06 PM on December 17, 2013


seagulls
posted by homunculus at 9:04 AM on December 18, 2013


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