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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.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  Once every (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sceptical observer

    7 years is not too often.

    Good luck with your book, may you retire a rich man.

    I probably won't be reading it. It clashes with my newfound life motto: 'Ignorance is bliss'.

    The better I know people, the more I like my dog.

    by Thinking Fella on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:25:47 PM PDT

  •  I'm not so sure about this: (0+ / 0-)
    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.
    Citizens can weaponize their drones, too.  There's youtube video of a drone heli with a Colt .45.  I've seen other weaponizations discussed as well.

    The Anti-Drones are coming.  Lasers, .22 snakeshot, and other such things...

    It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

    by Jaime Frontero on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:38:15 PM PDT

  •  1st-2/3 20th Century Futurism Could Only See (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    so far. Much of it never foresaw the Internet for example.

    But the entire planet being immersed in a number of global information giga-neural-network-nodes, we're going to be moving far into technology and economy that neither recent futurists nor our near-stone-age framers could anticipate.

    As a result I think ownership is increasingly able to simply ignore all of our heritage of governance and culture.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 06:38:59 PM PDT

  •  Not so; bad news (0+ / 0-)
    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.
    I've been in wireless Ethernet radio since 1996 and was part of the early Wi-Fi world, back before it was Wi-Fi. Any high schooler can shut down your Wi-Fi system with off the shelve bag of gear. Being a dynamic, adhoc mesh type configuration does not make it any harder to do. In fact, the more modern version of the Wi-Fi standard, the easier it is to take out.

    Now back in the early days of the base 802.11 standard using frequency hoppers, it was much tougher to shut down (which covered three distinct access methods: frequency hopping or direct sequence...and even infrared, which was useless).

    May the Conservative Supremes share Paula Deen's heart-stopping culinary tastes as much as they share her cultural ones.

    by pajoly on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 07:59:31 PM PDT

    •  Damn, quoted the wrong quote: (0+ / 0-)

      This is the one that's problematic:

      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.
      It is not difficult at all. Peer to peer is also terribly overblown. Each hop inject latency. Video can't be done well after a few hops. Power is also an issue; such tiny devices will have extremely short range, thus requiring lots of hops before the data can be collected. Capacity would be abysmal.

      May the Conservative Supremes share Paula Deen's heart-stopping culinary tastes as much as they share her cultural ones.

      by pajoly on Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 08:03:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  DNA Coded Insect Drones (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    I've been entertaining the idea of individually DNA coded insect size or smaller weaponized drones from cradle to grave for everyone.  The capability will be there soon.

    Of course, the labs are also cyborging real insects and rodents and, I suspect, birds so the panopticon has many possibilities.

    If the government can do it then the corporations will be able to do it too.  Get ready for Big Brother, Corporate Brothers and Sisters, DIY hackers and players to be named later all playing All-Seeing Eye.

  •  Have you read "The Diamond Age"... (0+ / 0-)

    by Neal Stephenson? He beat you to this idea of microscopic (and near microscopic) drones in vast numbers, fighting a war with each other and watching everything for their creators, who are both governments and corporations. He even gave them a popular collective name in this near future: Dust.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

    by Stwriley on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 07:37:48 AM PDT

    •  Aargh! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stwriley

      No, I haven't read it.

      When I was writing the original blog post, thinking I was so clever and original, I came across "Smart Dust", an idea which has been around for years. That might predate the Stephenson book, but I don't know.

      •  Sorry David... (0+ / 0-)

        I hate to be the bearer of unpleasant news, but it was the first thing I thought of when I read that part of the diary. If it's any comfort, I'll tell you that in Stephenson's novel this is a secondary plot device. The real focus is on another kind of nano-tech device that is blood-borne like a virus (indeed, it's basically a mechanical virus that is engaged in running a kind of vast distributed computer program, though in some pretty bizarre ways) and that has nothing to do with surveillance. So you may not be in a bad place with your own novel, especially since Stephanson's ideas depend on a highly advanced nano-fabrication infrastructure in order to work (i.e., almost everything in his future world, even most food, is produced by nano-tech construction from feedstocks of basic elements, themselves harvested from nature by other nano-tech means.)

        I do hope you don't abandon this idea or change it too much as a result of this; it actually sounds like a novel I'd like to read and one that could focus attention on these issues we all care about as well.

        Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

        by Stwriley on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:19:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks, Stwriley. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Stwriley

          It's non-fiction. I don't think I'm going to change it, now that it's finally done.

          Right now, I'm itching to get back to fiction.

          •  Excellent! (0+ / 0-)

            And, of course, being non-fiction (don't know how I got the idea it was fiction, as I read back over the diary) you're gold. I just went to your page on the book and I'll be buying it from Smashwords ASAP.

            By the way, you might want to check out Stephenson's early novels anyway, they're great reads and he takes a lot of interest in issues like privacy, control, communications and a person's place in in preserving and defending rights and autonomy.

            I'd suggest his second and third novels as his best: Snowcrash and The Diamond Age.

            Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

            by Stwriley on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 10:34:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Stwriley

              When I was a teenager, I used to buy every new sf book that came out. That was in the late 1950s, when it was still possible to do that.

              Some time after I started getting published myself, I fell way behind and then pretty much stopped reading current sf novels. I know I missed a lot of great ones.

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