When I began thinking of this animated Op-Docs video, I had two things in mind. The first was the adoption of drones by the Seattle Police Department. (The program has since been scuttled.) The second was Yevgeny Zamyatin’s 1924 novel “We”...The KGB agent imagines a day when there are so many drones in the sky that they cloud the sun. This, he informs us, will be a good thing because it will reduce the risk of skin cancer.
"We” is set in a futuristic city that is constructed almost entirely out of glass. This total surveillance state is reminiscent of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, a prison designed so that inmates could be watched at all times — without their being able to tell whether they were, at any moment, actually being watched. I suspect domestic drone use will eventually have a similar effect: allowing the state to dominate the public through pervasive eyes in the sky.