To hell with the Trolley Problem: here's a much more interesting list of self-driving car weirdnesses

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Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest

That time London was nearly destroyed by Nazi paleo-drones

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The Nazi V-1 "robot bomb" (AKA the "buzz bomb") was a kind of flying landmine that terrorized London during the Blitz, doing incredible damage to the city, sowing disarray and fear, as this Periscope newsreel makes clear. Read the rest

Drone's eye view photos reveal the racism of South African neighbourhoods

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Johnny Miller is a Cape Town-based photographer who uses drones to capture aerial views of neighbourhoods and cities that reveal the deep, racial inequalities in architecture and city planning between black and white populations. Read the rest

Hey Y'all We're Having a 4th of July Drone Sale in our Store Because America and Freedom

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No, you can't kill civilian noncombatants with them. We only sell happy fun drones.

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Obama says US drones strikes have killed up to 116 civilians, watchdogs say real count is higher

An official instructs two protesters to lower their Reaper drone model as they take part in a protest in Times Square NYC, May 24, 2016. REUTERS
The Obama administration today “partially lifted the secrecy that has cloaked one of the United States’s most contentious tactics for fighting terrorists,” as the New York Times puts it, and revealed that it believes U.S. airstrikes conducted outside established war zones like Afghanistan have killed as many as 116 civilian bystanders. The administration says it also killed an additional 2,500 people in those non-war-zones who were members of terrorist groups.

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Moral economy and software development: software without politics is recipe for totalitarianism

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Maciej Cegłowski (previously) keynoted the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics conference with a characteristically brilliant speech about the "moral economy of tech" -- that is, the way that treating social problems like software problems allows techies to absolve themselves of the moral consequences of their actions and the harms that result. Read the rest

Medieval reenactor spears drone from the sky

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At the Rusborg 2016 Middle Ages festival in Russia, a re-enactor spotted a drone in the sky and did what anyone in the 9th century would: He knocked it out of the sky with his spear.

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Edward Snowden on the accelerating pace of whistleblowing, and what it means for state secrecy

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After Daniel Ellsberg's astonishingly courageous release of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, he waited 40 years to meet someone like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, someone else inside who risked everything to expose the wrongdoing they had sworn to oppose. Read the rest

"The world thinks I faked a drone crashing through my office window and into my head"

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On April 7 David Perel posted a video to YouTube, writing: "Drone Smashes Through My 5th Floor Window and Into My Head! While sitting at my desk I heard what sounded like a missile followed by a huge bang and glass all over me. Turns out someone lost control of their drone. Lucky to be uninjured!"

A lot of people didn't believe Perel. On Medium, he wrote about the angry deniers who posted mean comments on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about the video:

It’s incredible how many glass experts, drone experts, head trauma experts, video experts, psychological experts and experts of any kind exist when the troll nation descends. Experts abound but they all missed a single key fact: I was actually hit in the head by a drone!

The pinnacle of these accusations was a very personal attack from a guy with a ponytail who clearly loves his drones, but not the facts.

It’s now been four days since the incident and I am still fielding calls from news websites, radio stations and Twitter commenters.

Read the rest

See this drone that draws

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The MIT Media Lab's "Flying Pantograph" is a pen-wielding tele-robot controlled by a drawing interface. From MIT's Fluid Interfaces research group:

A drone becomes an “expression agent” - modified to carry a pen and be controlled by human motions, then carries out the actual process of drawing on a vertical wall. Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art. This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas, however, in the same time, is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium.

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Children in Uganda watch a hobbyist's drone fly for the first time, and totally flip out

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The way these schoolchildren in rural Uganda react to a hobbyist's drone flight demo is so delightful. Honestly, my reaction when I first saw a friend navigate his UAV into the air was about the same.

Mark Brandon Smith shot this wonderful video, and tells the tale behind it.

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Killing people with drones is working out great for America, says ex CIA chief

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Michael Hayden sure does love him some drone-killing.

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NSA and GCHQ's crappy Big Data techniques may be killing thousands of innocents

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Researchers have taken a second look at the NSA SKYNET leaks, as well as the GCHQ data-mining problem book first published on Boing Boing, and concluded that the spy agencies have made elementary errors in their machine-learning techniques, which are used to identify candidates for remote assassination by drone. Read the rest

Watch this beautiful ballet of drones (also, Disneyland Drones!)

"Working with Daito Manabe, Motoi Ishibashi and their team at Rhizomatiks Research in Tokyo, the goal is to create an intimate and artistic interaction between man and machine," says Marco Tempest of MagicLab.

Related, Disney recently filed a patent for what they call "Flixels" (floating pixels), drones that will be used in performances at their theme parks. (NBC News)

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Domestic surveillance the old-fashioned way: cameras installed on utility poles, watching your home

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Rocky Houston was a felon in possession of a gun, and is headed to jail for years for that crime. How did they catch him? They installed a video camera on a utility pole near a family-owned property until useful footage was captured.

A federal appeals court upheld his conviction this week, with Judge John Rogers writing that "no reasonable expectation of privacy [exists] in video footage recorded by a camera that was located on top of a public utility pole and that captured the same views enjoyed by passersby on public roads," even if there was no warrant.

David Kravets:

"John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, said the ruling is bad news for privacy.

"Obviously, the new era of technology, one that was completely unimaginable to the men who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, requires an updated legal code to enshrine the right to privacy. New technologies which enable the radical expansion of police surveillance operations require correspondingly robust legal frameworks in order to maintain the scope of freedom from authoritarian oversight envisioned by the Framers," he said.

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Turn drone footage into 3D terrain models, which you can 3D print

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Drone Deploy is an analytics and automation package that uses drones to create accurate 3D terrain and architectural models. Read the rest

NYPD arrest man for crashing drone into the Empire State Building

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Seems the charges are "reckless endangerment and aviation in and over the city."

Via Philly.com

A New Jersey man was arrested on Thursday after a drone he was flying crashed into the 40th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City, police said.

The 29-year-old man was taken into custody after a small aircraft he was piloting struck the iconic building before coming to rest on the 35th floor on Thursday evening, the New York City Police Department said.

The man asked building security personnel for his drone back after they retrieved it, but instead they called authorities, a police spokesman said.

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