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When Amazon Drones Descend Upon Us


Eugene Gan - published on 12/05/13

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Of course, the abuse of such goods and technologies is sure to ensue. As it is, a University of Texas engineering team successfully hacked a drone while it was in mid-flight and changed its course by sending it false GPS signals that tricked the drone’s own GPS guidance system, a technique known as “spoofing”. Or how about attack drones that, like birds of prey, swoop in to swipe the packages from these peaceful Amazon drones going about their business? Or trigger-happy chaps taking pot-shots at them? Target practice, anyone? What’s Amazon going to do? Build and fund prisons for drone thieves? Call it Amazon Prime Prison? Or privacy issues? Or terrorists commandeering drones and delivering explosives? Or lightning strikes and bad weather? If bad weather can ground an Airbus A380, what chance do Amazon drones have? Or if these drones break down mid-flight, we’ll have packages free falling out of the sky. Amazonodronopackageophobia.

Thank goodness Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos says he’s limiting the drone packages to 5 pounds. But do the math: 5 pounds, aided by gravity, and depending on the height can kill/seriously injure a human below. Still, Bezos maintains “[t]his is all electric, it’s very green, it’s better than driving trucks around.” All fine and good, but I don’t want to have my head or my easily excitable kids’ heads anywhere near those 8 propeller blades when the Amazon drones come calling. What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

Also, just to set it all straight right now: no, the Catholic Church will not be using drones to carry Our Lord in the Eucharist to the sick and those confined at home. Eucharistic ministers or a priest will still bring Our Lord in person. This has nothing to do with being progressive. It’s about keeping the sacred sacred in the same way we have a chalice and paten and not some ordinary cup and plate at Mass. That, and the canonical practice of receiving Our Lord and not taking Our Lord out of some drone’s basket.

Still, it makes me kind of proud to be at the forefront of communications technology and to have recently bought my kids one of these drone’s little baby brother: a tiny, remote controlled, indoor helicopter that fits in the palm of your hand and can supposedly fly around our living room for 5 minutes before exhausting itself and needing a rest (recharge) for an hour or so. But shhh…don’t tell my kids just yet. They’ll have to wait till Christmas (actually, we open our gifts on Epiphany).

Dr Eugene Gan is faculty associate of the Veritas Center and Professor of Interactive Media, Communications, and Fine Art at Franciscan University of Steubenville in the United States. His book, Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media is grounded in Scripture and magisterial documents, and is a handbook and practical guide for understanding and engaging media in meaningful and healthy ways in daily life.

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