Of Drones and Privacy

Two must-read articles are in the present, November 2015 issue of The Atlantic.  In To Catch a Drone, Amanda Ripley describes how drones are entering restricted space, even to the point of delivering contraband to prisoners in the US federal system; interfering with firefighting operations; scaring the wits out of airline pilots– the list goes on. Ripley goes on to describe new technologies for geofencing that may one day electronically barrier drones from flight in restricted spaces or restricted times (such as over PNC Park during a major league game).  Drones are boundary objects, and they are now testing the boundaries of how we allow mobile surveillance, and also how we citizens interact with one-another under murky conceptions of freedom, ownership and rights. Well done, Ripley.

Now flip forward twenty pages to Walter Kirn’s article: If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy. I have spoken breathless about New Mediocracy- about how corporations will monetize every aspect of our behavior. Kirn takes the notion of behavioral analytics and monetization to both scary and humor-filled edges, noticing all the ways in which every device he wears can accumulate, barter and fuse every aspect of his life together to create the Perfectly Detailed Customer.  Kirn’s piece is balanced beautifully between a celebration of what’s really occurring around us as privacy falls and an uneasy peep show into one person’s paranoid mind. The result is magic, and I recommend it too.

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