Insect-sized surveillance drones aren't here yet (probably), but they're surely on the way. The data they collect will join the flood of images, speech, and text already being accumulated in government and corporate databases. In that respect, those tiny drones will be only somewhat creepier than the surveillance cameras and e-mail interceptions we're already aware of.
But there's far more to come. Far smaller, too.
In private hands, those insect-size drones won't just be for spying on the neighbors. They will acquire another function: communication. Peer-to-peer networking between drones equipped as WiFi hotspots will make it much more difficult for authorities of any kind to shut down communication between participants in demonstrations.
At least, until government and corporate gnat-sized drones are equipped to take those WiFi hotspots out. Citizens will be at a disadvantage in that warfare.
Government and corporate drones will keep getting smaller. In time (15 years, maybe), they'll be the size of specks of dust. They'll go wherever the breeze takes them. The result could be something far worse than 1984, unless privately owned drones evolve down to the same tiny size.
And I think they will. Governments and corporations will know everything about us, but we'll know everything about them, too. We'll all be living in a global village in which all the walls are made of glass.
I wrote a blog post about these ideas some time ago. At the time, I thought perhaps I was making too many assumptions. When I started expanding that post into a book, I realized that I wasn't reaching too far, at all. Those glass walls are a very disturbing idea, and the benefit of uninterruptible communication between people everywhere isn't enough to make up for the loss of privacy. But I think it's coming, and fairly quickly.
The book, Dust Net, is now done and published. You can read about here. It's currently available as an e-book. The print edition should be out by the end of the month.
(The last time I used my Kos diary to promote one of my books was in 2006. I hope that once every seven years isn't too often.)