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An Open Letter To Google Chairman Eric Schmidt On Drones 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-other-hand dept.
savuporo writes "A DC Area Drone User Group has posted an open letter in response to recent comments by Eric Schmidt about banning drones from private use. The closing section reads: 'Personally owned flying robots today have the power to change the balance of power between individuals and large bureaucracies in much the same way the Internet did in the past. And just as the military researchers who developed GPS for guiding munitions could never have imagined their technology would be used in the future to help people conduct health surveys in the world's poorest countries or help people find dates in the world's richest, there is a whole world of socially positive and banal applications for drones that are yet to be discovered. We should embrace this chance that technology provides instead of strangling these opportunities in their infancy. Our hope is that you and the rest of Google's leadership will embrace this pro-technology agenda in the future rather than seeking to stifle it. We would welcome the opportunity to speak further with you about this topic.'"
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An Open Letter To Google Chairman Eric Schmidt On Drones

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  • Cows (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Good grief, fuck Google. Who care's what Schmit thinks?

    • We have to be careful. Considering the types of people that win elections, this guy could become president some day.

      • by morgauxo (974071)

        Or worse, he could own a president!

      • Personally owned flying robots today have the power to change the balance of power between individuals and large bureaucracies in much the same way the Internet did in the past.

        Are not these words from the same people that are buying laws to be created so that their unconscionable actions of shear greed are not actionable?
      • Re:Cows (Score:4, Funny)

        by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @10:05AM (#43545725)

        We have to be careful. Considering the types of people that win elections, this guy could become president some day.

        Hey, but when I googled him, the news results for me turned up the fact that he is for every single position I support.

        wait a second... my wife just googled him and he is for every single position she supports too... and we don't even agree on everything.

    • Re:Cows (Score:5, Insightful)

      by beelsebob (529313) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @04:35AM (#43544051)

      He won't listen anyway. He made that statement because it was in his commercial interests to disallow other mapping companies/organisations from collecting detailed imagery, not because it's what he genuinely thought was right. No amount of open letters will make him change his mind.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Yeah, really! This is no different than Bono giving his opinion to G.W.Bush on how to fix the U.S.
      If Eric Schmidt is afraid of clowns, is Congress going to jump up and ban clowns so Eric Doesn't wet his pants in McDonalds?
      Well Fuck Eric Schmidt and any and all celebrity legislation endorsements.
      Coming Next: Secretary of State Charlie Sheen weighs in on the Mideast.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        Coming Next: Secretary of State Charlie Sheen weighs in on the Mideast.

        Hey...couldn't be any worse than the last few clowns in that position.

        • by flyneye (84093)

          Good point, but, since women aren't taken seriously in those nations, I'd give Charlie the edge, if only he showed up kinda straight.
                   

  • Useful as Surrogates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lubaciousd (912505) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @12:34AM (#43543265)
    We're approaching a level of non-invasive brain-computer interface quality that could conceivably be used for controlling a drone. Combine that with smaller, cheaper drones(think UPenn quadrocopters), and you can give people halfway decent surrogate systems relatively soon.
    • by Tim Ward (514198)

      It needs to have feedback, though, so that the "pilot" dies if the drone crashes.

      Otherwise it's a bit of an uneven playing field, no, with me up there in my little aeroplane and people flying drones into my path with no comeback if they screw up?

  • Goose meet Gander (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex&project-retrograde,com> on Thursday April 25, 2013 @12:38AM (#43543277) Homepage

    So, if you make your fortune by collecting information about everything including what some folks would consider 'private', readily divulge the information to governments without notifying those the data was collected about, then have a problem when others begin collecting information that's publicly available, does that make you a fool or a hypocrite an elitist, or what? I'm having a problem classifying the degree to which Schmidt's foot is crammed down his own throat.

    I really think we need to change the 2nd amendment to be "The Right to Bear Technology" (this includes cryptography).

    • by b4upoo (166390) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @12:46AM (#43543303)

      Private acts really are not done in places where they can be observed by others. This is a feelings vs. reason issue. For example a young girl in a string bikini may feel that her privacy has been violated when the wrong guy looks at her or someone snaps pics even though she is on a public beach. The reality is that if it is done withing public view it can not be private.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Google maps has all sorts of imagery of areas "not in public view". Eric's a fucking hypocrite.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        1. The bikini girl maybe taking the sun on her backyard, where you may expect some reasonable privacy. 2. A private act, may consist of a sparse collection of public events.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @02:18AM (#43543591)

        Private acts really are not done in places where they can be observed by others.

        I completely disagree. The conversation at the next table at the restaurant may be within earshot of my table, and I may overhear a few things. But it is still a "semi-private conversation". The patrons at the next table over implicitly accept that their conversation is not "completely private" in a setting like that.

        But that doesn't amount to implicit acceptance that I pull up a chair and start taking notes, nor does it amount to implicit acceptance that I hide a microphone in the candle to record everything they say and stream it to youtube.

        The reality is that if it is done withing public view it can not be private.

        Polite society dictates that even though I can hear things not intended for my ears that I don't put them on the internet. The law isn't so subtle as polite society, but that doesn't mean we should accept that anything not actually illegal is perfectly fine.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Polite society dictates that even though I can hear things not intended for my ears that I don't put them on the internet.

          Those who have crucified Bradley Manning and who would like to do the same to Julian Assange are glad to hear you say that. They are winning the war for our minds, and you are complicit in their victory.

          The law isn't so subtle as polite society, but that doesn't mean we should accept that anything not actually illegal is perfectly fine.

          We should all accept that if we do things in a public place, that we have performed a public act. If you are emitting radio waves, or reflecting photons, or causing vibration of air molecules, others should have a right to receive these signals. Having received them, others should have a right to decode them

          • Re:Goose meet Gander (Score:4, Interesting)

            by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Thursday April 25, 2013 @11:16AM (#43546373)

            Polite society dictates that even though I can hear things not intended for my ears that I don't put them on the internet.

            Those who have crucified Bradley Manning and who would like to do the same to Julian Assange are glad to hear you say that. They are winning the war for our minds, and you are complicit in their victory.

            Those statements don't follow.

            There are two ways to a polite society. The first is the Google way, which with Glass, means there are no secrets between anyone. Everyone will be polite to each other because they have to. Just like how if everyone had guns pointed at everyone else, they'd be pretty darned polite as well. Of course, this does restrict a lot of freedom since everything is known about everyone. You can't do anything someone somewhere might disapprove of, for example (be it play video games, smoke, cuss, visit adult places, etc).

            The other is one where we have private lives that we keep private and use common etiquette to not be asshats to everyone (and enforced by a higher level - i.e., the law). This means overhearing something between two individuals conducting private business isn't acted on by third parties and the like. Unless there is significant public interest (this excludes sensational, but otherwise private dealings - e.g., Apple leaks aren't covered, but whistleblowing is)

            Note, I said "private business". This excludes what Bradley Manning did because what he leaked was conversations between public officials. We don't call our government workers "public servants" for nothing. In which case the actions of public servants are well, of public interest.

            One can note that this sort of government openness is of the first type of politeness which is fine because barring international treaty, there is no such thing as international law, so the only way to ensure otherwise unregulated government from creating havoc is complete openness.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              The other is one where we have private lives that we keep private and use common etiquette to not be asshats to everyone (and enforced by a higher level - i.e., the law).

              The problem with this incredibly simplistic idea is that the law are the ones most commonly invading our privacy. If you have a solution that doesn't involve handing the fox the keys to the henhouse, I'm all ears.

              One can note that this sort of government openness is of the first type of politeness which is fine because barring international treaty, there is no such thing as international law, so the only way to ensure otherwise unregulated government from creating havoc is complete openness.

              So you want open governance of people who are closed boxes? It doesn't work that way. If we want to create a culture of openness it's going to have to start at home. People keep secrets within families for fuck's sake. It starts at home.

          • We should all accept that if we do things in a public place, that we have performed a public act. If you are emitting radio waves, or reflecting photons, or causing vibration of air molecules, others should have a right to receive these signals.

            That's nice and simple and... completely, totally inhumane. Because, technologically speaking, preventing technological intercept of the things that we need to be private (and we do have an innate psychological need for privacy) is impossible for the common man.

            (And incidentally, those who want Assange's head aren't motivated by privacy rights. In fact, you'd probably find very little support for privacy among that group. Look to raw authoritarianism and us-vs-them thinking for the source of their bias.)

          • Polite society dictates that even though I can hear things not intended for my ears that I don't put them on the internet.

            Those who have crucified Bradley Manning and who would like to do the same to Julian Assange are glad to hear you say that. They are winning the war for our minds, and you are complicit in their victory.

            Disagree strongly. There are tremendous differences of scale, and dependencies on the subject matter. If I overhear the couple at the next restaurant table discussing their love life, or their medical history, it is not appropriate to spread it around. They may be foolish to be talking about it where others might hear; I do not have to join in or compound the foolishness by spreading it further.

            This is totally different from whistle-blowing or "sunshine laws" ensuring public knowledge of things that *

      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @02:52AM (#43543663)

        The reality is that if it is done withing public view it can not be private.

        Wrong. Behaviour and intent matters enormously.

        For example, say the girl in the bikini is followed the whole day, everywhere she goes, by some guy who always stands a foot next to her and sticks his head in front of her tits the whole day, that's harassment. Even though she's in public, and he's making sure not to touch her and he's just looking at her.

        Same thing with Google. Sure, a lot of the data they collect is public, but actually systematically collecting it all and searching it and compiling secret summaries for law enforcement is bordering on harassment, even though the people who are being harassed don't realize it's happening and aren't being _directly_ harmed (but _indirectly_ very much).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The reality is that if it is done withing public view it can not be private.

        Except that now thanks to the quadricoptor hovering 3 inches from the window we can watch the young girl change into her bikini through the privacy screen in "public" view.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The problem with that is that Schmidt's statements didn't have any issue with the Quadricopter being used in this way. They instead have a problem with /who/ is using it.

          The big problem is that Schmidt's argument says that governments and business should have rights to drones, but not the private citizen. This seems backwards because between individual citizens, corporations, or the government, the only one of those that needs to regularly hold themselves accountable are the private citizens because they

        • Exactly. "Public view" has had a particular meaning for years. An upper-floor window would typically have been considered private. The new existence of the HD-camera-broadcasting quadricopter should not suddenly change those meanings. If the operator had climbed up the outside of the house to get his/her eyeballs in the same place, it would be considered an offense; even watching from afar with a telescope could be considered an offense if discovered. The fact that it is technologically easier does not
    • I'm pretty sure we already have the bear technology covered: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_claw_(pastry) [wikipedia.org]
    • Well there's a difference between people _choosing_ to use services like Google, GMail et al, and having your privacy 'invaded' by a drone to which you have not agreed in any way. As for 'readily divulge information without notifying', are they even allowed to? They certainly aren't allowed to say 'no' to that request, and AFAIK Google is the only organisation which actually lists information regarding these 'user data' requests from the government.
    • Re:Goose meet Gander (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spliffster (755587) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @07:14AM (#43544575) Homepage Journal

      I am co-founder of a company that produces small autonomous aircrafts. Google bought one from us.

    • Some satire I wrote five years ago when Google created Knol, reposted here: http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/freedombox-discuss/2011-February/000401.html [debian.org]

      Gold Leader: Pardon me for asking, sir, but what good are semantic wikis and desktops going to be against [that]?
      General Dodonna: Well, the Empire doesn't consider a small cgi script on a shared server or desktop to be any threat, or they'd have a tighter defense. ...

      Commander #1: We've analyzed their attack on Knol, sir, and there is a danger. Shou

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      So, if you make your fortune by collecting information about everything including what some folks would consider 'private', readily divulge the information to governments without notifying those the data was collected about, then have a problem when others begin collecting information that's publicly available, does that make you a fool or a hypocrite an elitist, or what?

      It makes you either the former, or both of the latter. Unfortunately, there's really no room for believing Eric Schmidt is a fool. Lacking another option (and I do think that we are lacking another option) we're left with an evil Eric Schmidt, who is currently creating a global surveillance infrastructure and would deny you the right to do the same on even a personal, local scale.

      I really think we need to change the 2nd amendment to be "The Right to Bear Technology" (this includes cryptography).

      A much better plan would be to add another amendment guaranteeing the citizenry the right to technology, because if you changed i

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 25, 2013 @12:46AM (#43543307)

    Instead of whining about his privacy, shouldn't Eric just refrain from doing things he doesn't want others to see? That's what he told us plebes, anyway.

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @12:50AM (#43543329)

    But Eric's comments make him sound like kind of a moron. Maybe he should stick to computers.

    Hint: "Uhh, durr, how would you like it if your neighbor just built a tall treehouse in his yard and stared at your house all day! These treehouses have to be regulated! Oh, and duhh, what if someone uses an RC controlled car and they just drive it around menacingly on your sidewalk in front of your house!".

    And now, back to things that are likely to happen in any meaningful number and which can't be easily handled with existing statutes...

    • He's the "business" guy. [google.com] Seems like he's not really a computer guy, he's just another executive type. He says things and does things not out of interest in computers or altruism, he seems to behave exactly as any other executive type stuck in that position would, just out to make money and screw everyone else over. The only thing that's different is that the company happens to be Google, and they at least have the motto of "don't be evil." I'm obviously not in on the inner workings of Google, but I susp
    • by trydk (930014)

      ... Uhh, durr, how would you like it if your neighbor just built a tall treehouse in his yard and stared at your house all day! These treehouses have to be regulated! ...

      Not quite a proper analogy. There is a natural restriction on the number of neighbours you have, which reduces the risk of somebody watching you and makes it difficult for non-neighbours to peep into your garden. With drones you can do your peeping from a public road or maybe even from home. The laws in many (most?) countries make it illegal for people to look into your property and outlaws publication of pictures of your property and people there taken without your consent. If a neighbour invades your priv

  • Wikidrones. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The DC group is basically saying with drones the public can more easily "wikileaks" those who have the power, hiding behind high fences and walls. Scrutinize them to the same degree they scrutinize us. If we're going to lose our privacy, they should to.

    • Re:Wikidrones. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @02:25AM (#43543597)
      Or maybe they had something more direct in mind:

      It is a commonplace that the history of civilisation is largely the history of weapons. In particular, the connection between the discovery of gunpowder and the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie has been pointed out over and over again. And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, tanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon — so long as there is no answer to it — gives claws to the weak.

      George Orwell, "You and the Atomic Bomb" [orwell.ru]

      • by Type44Q (1233630)

        And this, Ladies and Gentlemen (and those of you somewhere in between), gets to the very bottom of why the Establishment has begun ratcheted up its attack on the 2nd Amendment.

        On a closely related note, anyone who disputes the fact that Fascism is becoming more and more willing to reveal itself (it has not been dormant for the past ~65 years but rather in disguise) is either a fool or a shill.

        • It makes me wonder if a printable gun, even if as technically complex as an AR, would qualify as a simple weapon in Orwell's view. Looking at the examples he offered, it seems less a question of real complexity and more a question of the amount and distribution of capital involved. I've made bows. I know guys who make flintlock rifles using their own forge. The ability to fashion modern semi-autos may also be this democratized as technology changes.
          • Forget the guns. Radios are more important. If there is some sort of General Mess, either by collapse or insurrection, running around shooting or blowing up things isn't terribly important. Knowing who and where the enemy is becomes the key to staying alive.

            That's why I giggle at the survivalist / prepper folks. Hide in your bunker. That just means you lost to a small infantry squad with a Sargent and a half dozen guys that listen to him. Even if all they have are some rocks and patience.

        • by pnutjam (523990)
          Hey, in many ways 2013 is 1913 all over again, read some history. WW1 was not some country bent on conquest. It was a bunch of countries that didn't trust each other and had overlapping treaties. Everybody was too proud to back down or negotiate.
          Just this morning I heard a dumb ass on the radio saying mistrust of Islams was more know your enemy, not discrimination. He also talked about how looking at blacks as criminals was justified although hispanics are muddying the picture.
          Times have changed, but attitu
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Right; I think this is really the best argument for all those who want to 'regulate' drones. I don't like them. I know they are going to be abused and misused.

      The problem is regulation won't fix that. It will just ensure a certain group gets to abuse the rest of us with them AND deny the rest of us the economic benefits, intellectual opportunities, and chance to return the favor for abuse.

      You can't put the genie back in the bottle. All regulation does is create haves and have nots. The best most equita

      • by pnutjam (523990)
        I agree, I would certainly rather nuke my house then let some bank take it from me.
  • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal @ g m a i l.com> on Thursday April 25, 2013 @01:11AM (#43543385) Homepage Journal

    He is not intellectually qualified to be making the decisions of the Google CEO. He's a dork. A geek minus the technical understanding.

    He really showed his ass on Colbert last night: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/425750/april-23-2013/eric-schmidt [colbertnation.com]

    His comments about privacy alone "...they shouldn't be doing bad things" show his ignorance.

    On the Colbert Report interview, he claims, "no one knows what the internet is..." and that "humans will one day live forever" and that your "data cannot be deleted"

    All of which are false. 1. The internet is a global computer network capable of running applications with continuous connections among users. 2. is not falsifiable so it's just used-car salesman bullshit and 3. if it is stored in memory, it by definition can be deleted. if it's not stored in memory, then it's not on the internet.

    And from another discussion I've found that there be trolls on the topic of Schmidt...so, those who say 'He's a CEO not a technician!@!@11'...fsk off...every CEO needs a basic understanding of what they are doing. Schmidt is a fanboi of his own product and it's egregious.

    • Yeah, I hadn't seen that but it's more confirmation of my theory (from reading is asinine, risible comments on drones) that he is a high functioning moron. Think Dubya without the charm.
    • by ikaruga (2725453)
      Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Google fanboy much less I'm defending their bullshit. But if I had mod points right now, I think I'd vote you down.
      You may not agree with what Google do. That is alright, there are thousands of things(including this topic) I don't agree either. But to say that Eric Schmidt is incompetent or a dork is just a display of ignorance. The guy successfully helped Google to become on of the most important technology companies in the world from both a economical/marketing/money making
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know if we saw the same interview, but I think you are twisting his words.

      1. He does claim that "no one knows what the internet is...", but he doesn't claim that the physical internet (a global computer network) is an unknown entity, but that actions on the internet are unpredictable. You may choose to believe that they are indeed predictable (and one day they might be), but describing the internet as "a global computer network capable of running applications with continuous connections among users

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 25, 2013 @03:50AM (#43543859)

      A lot of people seem to agree with your bullshit. You all love the fantasy of being intellectually superior to Eric Schmidt.
      You prove this face by selecting three statements he made while being interviewed on a fucking comedy show, and then proceed to tear him a new one with your amazing brain thing.

      On the Colbert Report interview, he claims, "no one knows what the internet is..." and that "humans will one day live forever" and that your "data cannot be deleted"
      All of which are false. 1. The internet is a global computer network capable of running applications with continuous connections among users. 2. is not falsifiable so it's just used-car salesman bullshit and 3. if it is stored in memory, it by definition can be deleted. if it's not stored in memory, then it's not on the internet.

      1. Your candy-ass library definition of what the Internet is gave me a chuckle. Thanks for that. I assumed he meant that no one person knows what the Internet does...it's fucking huge. It's used by billions for who knows how many thousands of uses.
      2. I'm pretty sure he meant one day some humans will be able to live without growing old. There is no doubt about that if our advances in knowledge and technology continue at their current pace. I'm sure when this treatment becomes available Eric will be able to afford it no problems at all. You and me on the other hand will probably be shit out of luck.
      3. Do you have delete access to the filesystems and databases for Facebook and Google and Yahoo and Twitter and web.archive.org and every other international or domestic government, corporate and private server that receives or crawls the Internet for Information? Do you have delete access to the filesystem snapshots those databases are hosted on? Do you have delete access to the tape backups for those databases and filesystems? Or the browser caches of the people that looked at it? Or the zips of the home directories of those browser caches? Or the DVDs that were burnt? Or the USB sticks that were written? Or the SD cards? Or the mobile phones?
      Let me assure you that only in the most unicorn infested fantasy land can your personal data be magically deleted from everywhere.
      But no, forget all that. You're much smarter than the CEO of Google. He just got really, really, really, really lucky. Damn it, they should give you the job!

      • fantasy of being intellectually superior to Eric Schmidt.

        Not so. I don't think of intellect or superiority in that way for myself personally. I don't begrudge his personal success, but I do hate what it symbolizes (he's by no means the worst CEO).

        I also would love to have his budget for my company so maybe there's some sour grapes there?

        A lot of people seem to agree with your bullshit.

        Strip away my style and my arguments are sound. Business in American has gone off the wheels. It is evidenced by the sizable

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @01:11AM (#43543387) Journal
    ... is that WE are the people. We make the laws, not them, alone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That is untrue. They make the laws. Alone. We follow them or go to prison.
      Like a religion.
      World wide juristiction.

      • I always wonder when I read this kind of post, who is 'they?' Are they something you heard about on X-Files? If it is, don't worry, I believe the truth is out there.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          they are the small minority that by virtue of having power and money can be considered a social group even if for all other purposes is not one. Social science is not all crap because it deals with analog shit. Stop being a jerk and go our of your cellar once in a while.

          • Stop being a jerk and go our of your cellar once in a while.

            I can't, the man is keeping me down. I'm like a bat that just fell through a freshly cut hole in the floor that was covered casually with a carpet sono one would notice.

        • by RockDoctor (15477)
          Every AC has a different "they".
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's easy to forget when most of the laws I want to make are repealing laws already on the books and the laws that no one should make ever are the ones being made. Doesn't feel like "we" to me.

    • People who pay attention make the laws. If 90% of the public doesn't pay attention, then the remaining 10% will have inordinate power.

      The thing we forget isn't that we make laws, the thing we forget is to pay attention.
  • by gronofer (838299) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @01:22AM (#43543415)

    I'm curious about what they mean by "power to change the balance of power between individuals and large bureaucracies in much the same way the Internet did in the past".

    The Internet improves the ability of the people to speak back and organise themselves. Perhaps personal drones will allow the people to shoot back, with missiles?

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      I'm curious about what they mean by "power to change the balance of power between individuals and large bureaucracies in much the same way the Internet did in the past".

      The Internet improves the ability of the people to speak back and organise themselves. Perhaps personal drones will allow the people to shoot back, with missiles?

      Yes, and monitor troop movements, etc. Here's the key to that being an unambiguous good thing, though: Think "Libya," not "United States."

      Then think, "Oh yeah, and that's one of the

  • by daveydave400 (1832814) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @01:34AM (#43543467)
    I work on a NASA mission that studies tropical storms and attempts to understand their structure so they can be detected/avoided earlier. If it wasn't for the Global Hawk drones we use, pilots would be in danger from flying over the storms and flights would be much shorter (~8hr vs 24+hr) limiting the amount of science that can be done. Here's an article about the first year of three's results: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/missions/hs3/news/hs3-nadine.html [nasa.gov]
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      I work on a NASA mission that studies tropical storms and attempts to understand their structure so they can be detected/avoided earlier. If it wasn't for the Global Hawk drones we use, pilots would be in danger from flying over the storms and flights would be much shorter (~8hr vs 24+hr) limiting the amount of science that can be done. Here's an article about the first year of three's results: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/missions/hs3/news/hs3-nadine.html [nasa.gov]

      Scientists use uranium and plutonium in experiments. That doesn't mean they should be available to the general public.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Did you know that if the general public is willing to follow the various restrictions for them, they can purchase breeder reactor output just fine? They're pricey, but there exist individuals doing garage experiments using fissile materials. For that matter, if you stick to an amount of material under NRC regulatory limits, you can just go visit United Nuclear and have them ship to your front door without doing more than promising you'll "be good."

        There's really very little that a determined individual maki

      • by admdrew (782761)

        Your comment above and sig are kind of ironic - having a right (scientists acquiring dangerous materials for experiences) certainly doesn't mean you *have* to exercise it (having those materials available for anyone without necessity) - by the same logic: just because everyone doesn't *have* to do something doesn't mean no one should be able to.

        Technology has always had the capacity to be dangerous; that doesn't invalidate all usefulness. Why are we (slashdotters especially!) so afraid of some new technolog

  • ....or drones for nobody.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      False dichotomy, how about drones for everyone, but if you fly them over private property you need to be above 100m, or out of camera range, or have a search warrant if your the police?

      You know... like you right to fly a drone, shouldn't take away my right to privacy.

  • Eric has a point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maroberts (15852) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @01:42AM (#43543491) Homepage Journal
    AFAICT, Eric Schmidt does not propose banning the personal use of drones, but is in favour of regulation.

    If you'd prefer no regulation, then consider how much invasion of privacy someone who wanted to redo Googles Streetview and mapping could do with drones instead of land vehicles? Also reflect on the fact that large companies have the resources to have large fleets of drones. There are huge privacy implications and a start on addressing them is needed now.

    • by cheekyboy (598084) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @04:13AM (#43543933) Homepage Journal

      I agree, they need regulation, but for corps only.

      If its for private use, zero regulation. Current laws are enough to make the obvious illegal.

      ie. 500 drones with ricin payloads

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What if I used the drone to spy on you or your wife Mary over your house? Wouldn't you expect the law to protect your privacy?

        IMHO, the use of surveillance drones should be regulated, both for corps, and people.

      • by admdrew (782761)

        I don't know that I agree with that. If anything, our laws need to evolve with such a new technology. The laws surrounding both the use of airspace and ground vehicle use don't perfectly apply.

        I'd agree for *stricter* regulation for corporations, and for protection for the public against corporate use, but I'm not confident current law is mature enough to sufficiently protect private citizens from other private citizens when it comes to drone use.

  • by gomiam (587421) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @02:35AM (#43543629)
    "... there is a whole world of socially positive and banal applications for drones that are yet to be discovered."

    I find it a bit difficult to understand that something banal is socially positive. Then again, maybe I am just not too social.

    • by admdrew (782761)

      I find it a bit difficult to understand that something banal is socially positive.

      Home delivery of everyday goods? Automatic dog walking? Assistance with farming? Private construction? Those all seem fairly logical/obvious extensions of what could be done with private drone ownership, which all have positive social potential.

  • Does that mean that "possession of drone parts" will become a criminal offense? Android phones are drone parts...

    The proposal is ridiculous if not for any other reason than that drones will likely be used extensively for home deliveries, environmental monitoring, and other purposes.

  • by tehcyder (746570) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @05:50AM (#43544317) Journal

    Personally owned flying robots today have the power to change the balance of power between individuals and large bureaucracies in much the same way the Internet did in the past.

    The internet has enabled people to get unlimited quantities of porn, bully strangers at a distance, and do shopping from their homes. It has not altered the balance of power between individuals and bureaucracies, states or corporations in any tangible way.

    And before anyone says it, the Arab spring was about masses of bodies on the streets, not the invention of Twatter.

  • Personally owned flying robots today have the power to change the balance of power between individuals and large bureaucracies

    And why, exactly, would you think Google wants to "change the balance of power"?

    People who have power very rarely want to "change the balance of power".

  • Shoot 'em all, government and civilian....

  • "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

    E. Schmidt, CEO Google, inc.

    Clearly, if you have something that you don't want anyone to fly a drone over, maybe you shouldn't have it in the first place...

  • ...anyone else feels that Schmit's view on drone somewhat hypocritical?

    • by admdrew (782761)
      Hypocritical, maybe, but I think he has somewhat of a point - there's a large potential for abuse for drone technology (by corporations *and* individuals), like most powerful technologies, so why not work to change our laws to more accurately reflect drone usage?

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