Currently we live in a world where relatively cheap robots fly around the globe, firing hot, screaming death at anybody that annoys the owner. Fortunately, here in America, we don’t have those. No, the Predator drones we have are just busy bad-touching our privacy.
In recently unearthed data about the Department of Homeland Security’s drone fleet, some pretty creepy stuff has come to light, a not-so-gentle reminder that, yeah, these things can actually be pretty scary even without the Hellfire missiles:
Homeland Security’s specifications for its drones, built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, say they “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,” meaning carrying a shotgun or rifle. They also specify “signals interception” technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones, and “direction finding” technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.
Basically one of these things can figure out whether you’re armed, and, if you are, route your phone calls to the nearest police station for easy listening.
There’s no evidence that the drones have this interception equipment installed just yet, and using it would raise hell with dozens of federal communications and wiretapping laws. They also can’t perform facial recognition.
Still, it’s a little troubling that life is rapidly turning into a Will Smith movie. At least it’s not I Am Legend.