Thursday, November 17, 2011

Robot Journalism Will Be Here Very Soon

Now that cellphone cameras have turned every protester with a Twitter account or a YouTube channel into a potential multimedia journalist, police officers in several American cities appear to be having trouble distinguishing between activists and reporters.


All of which makes it a good time to report that a Polish firm called RoboKopter scored something of a coup last week when it demonstrated that its miniature flying drone was capable of recording spectacular aerial views of a chaotic protest in Warsaw.

I've been expecting this for a while. It's going to be an incredible pain in the ass here in Los Angeles, where paparazzi are a serious problem (frequent reckless driving in order to get pictures, etc). Kind of awesome in some other ways, though. The NYPD closed airspace above Occupy Wall Street, preventing news helicopters from capturing any footage; this was actually illegal, or at least improper, as NYPD has no airspace jurisdiction.

However, the real criticism should be reserved for journalists who complied with an invalid "order," specifically CBS. You have to wonder if that would have played out differently if any news organization with an interest in a story could get its hands on a thousand-dollar (or less) helicopter/camera robot. But you won't have to wonder long, because it's only a few years away.