Michael Belfiore is a techno-hipster; he is totally in the know about technology you haven’t heard of yet and once it goes mainstream, he starts hunting for the next big thing.
His writing, published in Popular Mechanics, the New York Times, Popular Science, Smithsonian Air & Space, Financial Times as well as his books, Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space and The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs perfectly exemplify his knack for taking the fiction out of ‘science fiction.’
As drones are currently stuck in a sort of technological limbo, we thought Belfiore would have some insight into how to change public perception of UAS technology and how it will eventually make its mark on society.
He started with his own diagnosis: “Drones are pretty mainstream now,” Belfiore said. “The technology is in place. The barriers now are political and social.”
But the political barriers are being eroded. “It [drone tech] is coming regardless of the rules or laws that are in place or will be in place,” he admitted. “People are just going ahead with it anyway even though its sort of a grey area within the law.”
Ok, so if the political barrier is coming down (around the FAA’s ears) than it stands to reason the final hurdle block the explosion of the drone industry is social perception.
How do we go about changing the way people view UAS?
“It is a matter of familiarity,” Belfiore says. To convince people to accept drones, actual public use cases -real applications, not concepts Amazon delivery drone- are necessary to show people what a drone can do.
One of the keys to changing public perception is the concept of automation which, Belfiore says, begins with cars.
“30,000 people die on US highways every year. Automation technology has the potential to slash that number…The trick is to show people that, as an aggregate, computers are better than distracted drivers.”
Using this same concept in public displays of UAS technology will help to demonstrate its usefulness.
However, the idea of automation is not without its own sticking points.
Some people have a “legitimate fear that machines will take over our jobs,” Belfiore says. The first on the chopping block are cab and truck drivers.
A lot of (shortsighted) people are going to be up in arms when this takeover inevitably happens but, the truth is, the shift to automated systems is better for everyone in the long run.
Yes, automated systems will replace people in many jobs (including my job…robo-journalism is a real thing) but there is an opportunity, Belfiore says.
“The way we value work and people in our society is a big issue. Yes, people will be losing their crappy jobs, but it will allow us to focus more on creative jobs only humans can do.”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com