"Our brave new world is coming, and coming fast. Autonomous drones, packed with AI, will only be a part of it. Also coming down the road are robots, also packed with AI. Look like a Terminator movie? I sure hope not."
Meanwhile, while everything else has been going on in the world, something is coming to the door. A new technology, which we had thought was years away. But it is not. In fact, the first wave of it is here right now. Scary? Maybe. Or it could be the start of a new way we live and do things. What am I talking about? Drones. Drones? That is old news! Not the new ones. The new ones will be autonomous. In other words, packed with AI.
Last year when we went down to Nebraska to view the total eclipse, a young man parked next to us had a very impressive (and expensive) array of gadgets. He had an huge HD movie camera (with sun filter), and very nice camera (also with sun filter) with huge telephoto lens, and - a drone. I asked him why he brought the drone. His response was very interesting. When the eclipse started, he also wanted to see the change in the horizon. So he will set his drone hover at 100 feet, and when the eclipse starts, it will slowly turn in a 360 degree circle to capture all of the horizon.
Needless to say, I was impressed. I asked him how we was going to operate the video camera, his digital camera, and the drone all at the same time with the eclipse starts. His response - "Oh, I will just set things up, and the drone will take care of the rest." He then started the drone, it took off until it hit 100 feet, and just hovered - perfectly still in the air.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our world the Skydio R1 drone. Brand new on the market, it is even more autonomous than the one I saw at the eclipse. This might be the first go-to-market drone with AI in the United States. The first of many. Why? Every drone manufacturer will tell you the same thing. The future of drones is in AI. Having them become more and more autonomous. So much so, the Skydio R1 does not even have a controller. Don't need one. None of the new ones will.
The function of the Skydio R1 is limited. It will follow you around and film you with its 4K camera. Okay - big deal. But it is a start. Do we need to worry about Asimov's Three Laws of Robots yet? Probably not with the Skydio R1, but we might have to when we make the lethal version of AI drones for the DOD. The ones which will go into combat to kill only bad guys. We then might have to tweak the first law to read something like, "A robot cannot kill a human, unless the human is a (fill in the blank)". A dangerous precedent? Oh, yes it is!
The genie is not yet out of the bottle with this new technology, but we can see him trying to emerge. Once this technology becomes mainstream (by 2025 or before), it will be far from novel - it will be the norm.
Our brave new world is coming, and coming fast. Autonomous drones, packed with AI, will only be a part of it. Also coming down the road are robots, also packed with AI. Look like a Terminator movie? I sure hope not. But this is what keeps Elon Musk up at night. That we will create something we cannot control - but will control us instead.
Until then, keep you an eye on the tech sites. Lots of new and interesting stuff is coming and coming soon. Oh, and keep you eyes on the sky. It is about to get much more crowded.