CNN did an episode on DIY Drones today. Good shots from the back of 3D Robotics, including clips of Jeff Taylor and Gigio Romero (Udrones) flying ArduPlane and ArduCopter.
I am with Mike and Oejang. I think we are better off getting out in front of this and presenting our own message. There are many potential practical uses for this technology to support Good. Please read the info in the Three Laws I linked above. It's more about cultural acceptance of the technology. I have spent some time doing outreach and education, and many people do not realize what can be done with the open source tech floating around this and other communities. But when they do, the reaction is often amazed and a bit frightened at the same time. However, it only takes a few example use cases for good and they start to see the potential of the tool to make the world a better place. Yes, yes it can sound corny but I believe it to be the truth. And I think there are many in this community who feel the same way. If we as a community can highlight the uses for good then we may stand a better chance of drowning out the sensationalized and negative reports. Call it spin if you like, but I don't think it is at all. We would simply be proactive about getting the facts out to the public instead of letting popular news outlets shape it for their ratings.
an Align T-rex 700 can carry the same payload. did CNN fear terrorists when the model hit the market?
For those of you who doubt this technology could be adopted for other than recreational use cases I would point towards Drupal as an example of open source tech that has been adopted for use in the US government – Whitehouse.gov and a few other high profile sites last I checked. I was around some of the gov circles pushing open source software for years (some still are). It was interesting to watch to say the least. Many resisted for various reasons – most political and cultural. But once projects like Drupal gained acceptance people in gov started to see the value proposition in open source. I think there is much less resistance to open source these days, so do not be surprised when tech that started in/around DIYDrones is accepted to support certain commercial and government use cases. I guess you could point to DARPA's UAVForge project as a good example. That kind of model would have been laughed out of the room a few years ago.
Anyway, if we want to stand a better chance of continuing to play with this kind of tech without being marginalized either via misguided policy or just plain fear I think we need to manage the message a bit more proactively.
My nonprofit is going to adopt some flavor of the Three Laws so I'll try to keep the community updated as we go. And you can watch to see how Korea does with the Robotic Ethics Charter.
You cannot program ethics into computers. Ethics is not something that a machine can enforce. It's a human being's responsibility. Evil people will commit evil deeds with toothpicks.
@estebanflyer - Clearly they did not. And they don't cover companies renting large cargo vans either.
If we accept the fact that a few idiots will do dumb things with any tool then we should accept that the tech from this community is not immune from said idiots. But our tech has capabilities that some will question has value in an unregulated market. E.g. other than gov/mil users. I would like to help prevent unwarranted regulation that comes from a lack of understanding and the resultant fear that follows.
@Ellison Chan Thank you for jumping in. We need this debate. You are correct. I am not a trained ethicist, but I believe it's more about making a statement that we do not intend this tech to be used to cause harm. We are making tools; like a toothpick, I can pick my teeth with or jam it in your eye. However, the toothpick industry does not have a PR problem as far as I know.
I bet most of us have heard about fracking; here's an example of what that industry does to get their information out to the public.
And I'll also bet some of you do not buy it. I think we have a similar problem in front of us. So perhaps the best we can hope for is to gain a majority of people who think we should be able to keep doing what we are doing as the benefits outweigh the risks.
@Coby - How exactly would "adopting" the three laws work. Our hardware doesn't make decisions of this nature, it reacts to the incredibly simple stimuli it can be given via its sensors, in fact it has less powerful processors than the cell phone your pocket does. Are you saying there should be a "3 laws" for the community rather than the devices? How exactly would that work?? Who is / has the policing authority? I think the story you want to tell is compelling but the attempted application of Asimov laws may be dismissed as reaching.
Yes, my point is that there are already many laws in place to ensure that people adhere to ethical norms. Having an advocacy group that specifically promotes building in "ethics" subroutines into machines creates the wrong impression that the tool is the problem.
My opinion is that actions speak louder than words. I believe what Chris Anderson is doing is the right way to go. Make the drones available and accessible, and all the good applications will eventually outweigh the military and nefarious uses. Eventually society can weigh the good against all the bad, and decide on how to judge the tool. This is why most people feel that things like assault rifles and high powered hand guns are more regulated than hunting rifles and why toothpicks are not a licensed weapon.
@Scott. Yes, it might be perceived as a bit whacky by some. I don't think stabilized flight is really the issue. But the fact that we are already at full autonomous flight capabilities I think raises the question of "if not now, when?"
Are we dealing with Robots in here? Well, the name of the company for DIYDrones Store is 3DRobotics if that's an indication. This may also be the reason that the AMA is not our best avenue for getting the message out. From what I read they are trying to figure out how to handle the situation as well.
I was selling Commodore 64's when I was 16 and now have an iPhone in my pocket that makes that thing seem laughable – I can only imagine what our tech will be able to do in a few years.
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