The Paranoid Caucus

03.13.13

The Real Domestic Drones: Red Light Cameras

FrumForum alumnus Noah Kristula-Green points out that the debate over robot police is arriving in the states, in the form of protests against cameras to enforce red-light stops.

In many ways, a red light camera is similar to a drone: The camera is a stationary observer that is able to capture law-breaking behavior without drawing attention to itself. Its opponents claim that using a camera like this is a violation of their civil liberties. (Opponents of Red Light Cameras claim they violate the Fifth Amendment.)

Never mind the fact that in addition to being found constitutionalby courts, it turns out that they work. When laws are enforced and people are punished for them, there are fewer violations of traffic codes. For some, "freedom" means the freedom to disobey traffic laws unless identified by a human eyeball as opposed to something that never blinks. Much like the concern that drones will be too good at their jobs because they are quiet, red light cameras are unpopular with the public precisely because they are effective at their job.

Maybe one way to understand this drone debate is that its the opening salvo of a coming wave of 21st century protest against robots taking human jobs?