FOREVER ALONE DRONE: Sumit Paul-Choudhury channels the loneliness of the long-distance drone operator

15 Dec

“The next wave of personal drones (or perhaps the one after that) will be as smart as a roach and as disposable as a paper plate,” says Sumit Paul-Choudhury, in the article that gave our latest edition its name, Forever alone drone

“Need a new drone? 3D-print one and you’re up, up and away. But what kind of relationship do we want with these drones? Are they vehicles, toys, tools, companions or pets? All of the above, and none. Only time and trials will tell.”

These trials have already kicked up some alarmed responses, as our friend Liam Young discovered on the way back from an art installation in Dublin…

It’s easy to be alarmist. “You don’t need me to cite you the movie references,” Sumit writes; “we’ve all seen them. Traumatised and terrified survivors huddle together in subterranean warrens, eking out a brief and miserable existence.  Above them rapacious and implacable hunter-killers, perpetually poised to mete out death, prowl the bleak and murderous sky.”

But it’s the pervasiveness of the technology that interests us most, and inspired this latest Arc.

Last June, for instance, researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology revealed a Parrot drone reprogrammed to act as a jogging companion.

“Locked on to a pattern on a runner’s T-shirt, the drone bounces along a few steps ahead, setting whatever pace the jogger has requested. What does that make the drone? A jogging buddy? A coach? Your irritating competitive friend who you know is humouring you, because they could sprint off at any time?”

Why doesn’t the drone follow the runner?

“Perhaps because that would be a little too much like being chased…”

You can read Sumit Paul-Choudhury’s feature in full in Arc 1.4: Forever Alone Drone, out now,

for iPads and iPhones

for Android devices, Windows and Mac computers

as a collectible print edition

and for Kindle

And if you would like to write for Arc, check out our new competition.

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