Trailer for Elevation, a film on how drones will change cities


Originally published at:


Yeah yeah sure thing – drones will be all that blah blah blah. But one thing is certain is the Drone Future will be impossibly noisy.


Oh boy, that house in the country is really looking good nowadays.


“It’s going to be this cloud of wasps everywhere.”



Maybe they meant WASPs?


…and masturbate to what we find there.


^^ If Matt Taibbi were a sketch artist.


Agenda suicide
The drones work hard before they die
And give up on pretty little homes


“This video is not available.”


I’ll be interested to see what legal changes happen as a result of this demand for drone ubiquity. Most of the uses portrayed in this video are currently illegal in the United States, where drones are legally usable only in limited airspace, with a filed flight plan if within five miles of an airport, not over any person not participating in the flight operation, etc. etc. We like to talk about drone delivery, but if the drone is legally required to be in LOS of the operator, that’s kind of fake.


No, drones can’t “construct bridges and buildings”.


Oh sure, first you’re against finance that works to take money out of other instruments, then you dislike taking a giant dump on AMD because some mining ASIC might be able to ship out of China as contraband, and suddenly you’re even sour on workplaces made out of mucilage by flying batteries? [LA Interior Design Union logo appears on an Orbital Nightmare drone.]


I figured it would be about how folks living in the penthouses would have to start closing their drapes.


I’m sure, once companies decide that drones are important to their business models, that it’ll end up with a similar situation to the changes in laws we had around automobiles. Early laws involved drivers requiring someone to walk in front of the car with a flag or lantern (and, in one case, to disassemble the car, move it off the road and hide it if an approaching horse was made nervous), to the opposite, legally separating out existing public space exclusively for automobile use - e.g. jaywalking laws.
I can easily imagine new laws that allow not only drones without LOS operation, but a carving out of the airspace above private property - with limitations, of course, but good luck getting those legally enforced. They aren’t enforced now. I lived a few blocks from a small hospital that decided to add a heliport to one of its parking lots so it could do trauma medicine (because it was profitable). Because the lot was closely surrounded by houses (and in the flight path of an airport), the helicopter flew incredibly (illegally) close to the ground, over people’s homes. So low, in fact, that over time it was literally shaking houses apart. No one did anything - in fact, if you had the temerity to even complain, the hospital’s response was to talk about the poor accident victims they were saving. Eventually the hospital closed and the trauma center and helicopter simply moved to another local hospital (where it should have been in the first place). Ubiquitous drones will be like that, only you’ll have no idea whose drones are breaking the laws.


If drones become ubiquitous, so will counter-measures. I could imagine maps being created with channels for safe drone traffic like little highways in the sky. If you want to fly safely, stick to the line, if not you take your chances it’ll be jammed, netted, or hijacked. The registry numbers currently required on drones can be painted over, or drones resold. Laws can also be changed to clarify that if someone’s drone is on your property, it becomes your property, like other things you find on your property.


I don’t know why that would work - if people have an incentive to capture drones (e.g. package theft, drone theft), there wouldn’t be safe channels. Quite the opposite - anyplace where there are drones would be the most tempting targets.

If there’s corporate incentive to create drone-friendly laws, laws like this wouldn’t exist. I mean, it invites “the drone fell on my property” defenses in drone-jacking cases, after all. (Plus, in circumstances like that, items generally aren’t the landowner’s property - if I crash my car into your house, it’s not yours, for example.) More likely there would be extra-harsh penalties for deliberately crashing or capturing a drone, wherever it was. Far more likely that the space over your property would no longer be considered “yours.” Best case scenario, they’re simply not allowed to fly over your property (but they still do it).


I think people have an incentive to keep people from bothering them. I wouldn’t let you drive your car across my land, and I won’t let you fly your drone across it either. If you parked your car in my driveway, I’d have it towed and it would cost you a pretty penny to get it out of hock. I expect that jamming and confiscating any drones on a person’s property without the landowner’s consent will be determined to be completely legal and will will become routine.

I could imagine a ‘nuisance drone’ service like tow trucks - if someone is flying drones illegally around a person’s property, the service comes out, impounds the drones, contacts the police to press charges, and then holds the drones pending payment of fines.

I could also imagine legislation to make flying any drone without a standard police interrupt feature illegal. One button in the cruiser, all drones immobilized, verify whose they are, if they’re legit let them go.

That’s the way I see drone use becoming normal and legalized. If we degrade to a ‘wild west of the skies,’ however, it’ll just be countermeasures and trash.


Jamming’s not ever going to be legal. The FCC and FAA will continue to frown on unlicensed, willy-nilly radio interference, especially if it can bring down aircraft. Shooting a drone, in an urban area, will always be illegal. Net guns have limited range, are expensive, and risk being fired into neighbor’s property (where you now have liability issues). Which is to say, any equipment capable of bringing down a drone will likely be illegal and/or highly specialized (i.e. expensive). There’s the problem of what “on your property” means for a drone, too - if it’s on your property because it crashed, it’s still theirs; if it’s small enough to follow you into your house, and does so, that’s another matter entirely. If you deliberately bring down a drone, it’s going to be near impossible to prove it was over your property when you did so - and unless you have a very large property, it probably won’t be, if you bring it down (a moving object any distance in the air will continue moving horizontally as it falls).

Sure, if you had drones flying around 30 feet over someone’s property for a straight hour, that might be a feasible scenario. But I don’t think any of that will be remotely likely. Drones will be at elevation (even when illegally low) and/or moving quickly through an area. They’re not going to be hanging around if they’re doing something they shouldn’t (e.g. peering in your bedroom window).

What, like the “button that makes all cars stop”? That’s not likely or even really feasible.

There will be rules limiting drone behavior - and people (and corporations and governments) will break them. But the nature of drones means that it’ll be very rare that anyone actually gets in trouble for it. Counter-drone forces will be the province of wealthy corporations and well-funded government agencies protecting their properties, not accessible to individuals. Drones that violate their property/privacy rights are most likely to see punishments of any sort. There are a whole bunch of areas (e.g. tech and privacy) where the laws already work that way (i.e. they benefit governments and corporations, but not usually individuals who don’t have the resources to do anything about it), so it’s not like it’s a new dynamic. On the other hand, there will be a lot more rules - which will be enforced - which protect drones, because the majority drone use will be by corporations and governments. The technology to track people who take down/steal drones will be built into them, and police will absolutely prosecute crimes against corporate or government property.


Use time machine to cue throwaway article from the Atlantic Monthly in 2100:

“No Drone Wasps Here: Why The Sky Was Not The Future They Promised”

(would include sidebar articles about underwater Miami tourist attractions and nautical Amazon delivery options)


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