GoPro and Drone On
by The Deep Water Breaks
The GoPro has been a favorite tool of surfers since its introduction to the sports world. The special harnesses and attachments that come with the camera allow people to surf unencumbered by their cameras. The lens becomes an extension of the body, and the films and images produced with these cameras prove it. This camera has ushered in an era where even an amateur photographer can bring a sport to vivid HD life in a way that seems tangible to the viewers.
In the last year, these cameras have followed humans into the most extreme conditions, including Felix Baumgartner’s record breaking leap from a hot air balloon in the stratosphere at 128,000 feet. The GoPro has become the camera of record for the moments when we reach for the limits of human capability.
And now the GoPro has taken flight, becoming attached to the civilian drones that zoom around surfing competitions.
The word drone often evokes powerful responses in our current society. For some, it is the most recent object used to represent cowardly war tactics, carrying on the legacy of the SR-71 Blackbird and the U-boats of World War One. For others it is the tool which will free future wars from the massive amounts of casualties that have defined war up until very recently. And as a society we question their legality, and the degree to which they should permeate our daily lives. Even those who are comfortable with using drones for surveillance in counter-terrorism operations abroad begin to feel uncomfortable when they find out about the drones flying above our own heads. And I think I’d be hard pressed to find many people who don’t feel the slightest tinge of discomfort upon hearing about amazon.com potentially employing drones for package deliveries. But the fact is that they are here, and they have permeated many aspects of our daily lives.
Our generation is perhaps the most conscious to the fact that it is much easier to introduce a technology into society than it is to remove it. Once a technology sticks, it is here until something comes along that makes it obsolete. It becomes harder to imagine life without the cell-phone, the computer, air condition, plumbing, agriculture, and going far enough back, writing. Just as we wrestled with the ethics of writing (Socrates thought writing frivolous, dead as soon as it is printed and unable to defend itself. Of course, we only know this because Plato wrote it down), we must also now question the drone. We have come to look at Moore’s Law as a natural law. I expect that two years from now I will have a computer and a cell-phone with exponentially greater power than the one I have now. Likewise, I know that these remote-controlled planes that murder and destroy are here to stay, at least as long as civilization is technologically complex of producing them.
But the other mantra that I believe in is the inherent neutrality of most technology (and I say most because there are highly respected technological historians who claim that machines make history, and they use the nuclear bomb as an example of a technology that demands a dictatorial and hierarchical society for its safe management). A drone is a drone is a drone. And while they shouldn’t be used to assassinate people in other countries or here at home, there is no reason that they can’t be used in the artistic and exploratory capacity that they are now heavily utilized in.
As such, I hold this beautiful drone/GoPro-shot footage of my hometown break, Rincon, as evidence of the neutrality of technology and the potential for drones to be used for good.