October 9, 2007

"They were large for dragonflies. I thought, 'Is that mechanical, or is that alive?'"

Robobugs. Seen lately — we're told — at political rallies in Washington and New York. Fear the dragonfly... and those screenless windows you have... I have...


Prosecutorial Indiscretion said...

Who knew paranoia could be educational and hilarious at the same time?

Adam said...

I don't see how it's paranoia, considering that the government ADMITS in the article they have tried to harness this technology in the past.

Current privacy doctrine says that one has little expectation of privacy in public areas. But there used to be the safeguard of anonymity in public. If no one knew who you were, there was little chance that any one could track you. Police also only tracked those whom they had good reason to track (i.le. suspicion of criminal activity, etc).

Now, with cell phone GPS signals, cell phone tower triangulation, surveillance video cameras, debit card swipes and ATM visits, etc., I'm surprised there is even a need for dragon fly robots.

Perhaps we could utilize this technology ourselves and send a few into the Oval Office so we can finally figure out who's in charge? Or do you think George Bush just used central air and keeps the windows shut year round? ;-)

MadisonMan said...

You don't have screens on your windows? Ugh. So does NYC have the Asian ladybird beetle problems that Madison has?

The Drill SGT said...

I think the story is BS and concerns paranoid IMHO.


1. I have grave doubts that a "cyborg" dragonfly" would have the stability or vibration free platform do do either video or sound

2. what would be the operational mission of a "cyborg" dragonfly? take pictures? sound? if pictures, why not use an agent with a cell phone in the crowd, or a predator, or DC crime cameras. If sound, a directional mike from a building.

sounds like "black helicopter" paranoia to me.

halojones-fan said...

Rods. We're seeing RODS! They're coming out FOR REAL.


KCFleming said...

I'm disappointed.
I thought the balck helicopters would be much, much bigger.

Regardless, I for one welcome our new mechanical insect overlords.

Peter Hoh said...

Make the robotic insect look like a dobsonfly. That'll scare the bejebus out of most people.

David53 said...

Yeah baby it's a dragonfly !
Cyborg moths It's interesting that the video has already been removed from YouTube.

Ann Althouse said...

MadisonMan said..."You don't have screens on your windows? Ugh. So does NYC have the Asian ladybird beetle problems that Madison has?"

I worry about the air quality, because this place is devoid of insect life that flies in the window. I've had 10 or more windows open day and night for 2 months here and have seen maybe 1 or 2 little things that flew in (and nothing at all that crawled in, fortunately).

MadisonMan said...

I've had 10 or more windows open day and night for 2 months here and have seen maybe 1 or 2 little things that flew in

Wow, that's amazing and a little scary. I guess there are benefits(?) to living downstream of industrial New Jersey.

Trooper York said...

[about the robots]
Newton Crosby: Originally I had non-military purposes in mind. I designed it as a marital aid.
(Short Circuit 1986)

Jennifer said...

How high up are you? Bugs don't really fly around 20 stories up. On the higher floors, screens are more for safety than anything else.

Maybe robobugs do, though. Pray Maxine never gets a hold of one.

blogging cockroach said...

dear professor althouse,

i can't tell you how disappointed i am that you have so few insect friends.
it may be that your apartment is in one of those buildings overloaded with chemical weapons of mass destruction.
i, for one, am not going to use the 'i'-word yet today.  it's too early to get depressed.
i so had wanted to pay your kitchen a visit.

anyway, i think it's terrible that people are thinking of turning insects into spies.
and then there are robot insects.
whom can you trust...

well, i will tell you that my mandibles are sealed.
if someone wants me to dig dirt, i just won't do it.
i mean, i do like to dig dirt, but some of us have standards.
i absolutely refuse to tell anyone about the leftovers under your stove and behind your fridge.
and we're just not going anywhere about the garbage under your sink.

KCFleming said...

archy, is that you??

I always enjoyed
"if you get gloomy just
take an hour off and sit
and think how
much better this world
is than hell
of course it won t cheer
you up much if
you expect to go there"

The Drill SGT said...


Like Jennifer said. flying around high up just makes you sparrow food and a Darwin award winner.

Bugs like to fly "nap of the earth"

Drew W said...

No matter where I've lived in New York -- from either of my old apartments on the Upper West Side to the Brooklyn row house where I currently reside -- there have been mosquitoes. They weren't much trouble this past summer -- probably due to the lack of rain -- but they've been biting me nightly for the past few weeks. And even though they're supposed to disappear during the winter, my daughter and I are able to keep a small population of them fed until spring rolls around.

A squadron of bug-sized drones, equipped with teeny-weeny Hellfire missiles, might be just the thing to turn the tide against these cowardly bloodsuckers. They'd be welcomed as liberators -- at least at my house!

Remember the article that the NY Times magazine ran a bunch of years ago about the possibility of simply driving mosquitoes to extinction? Something to think about, as I scratch my skeeter-bitten ankles raw.

blogging cockroach said...


sorry, i'm not 'the' archy.

he was my great great great great great
great great great great great great great
great great great great great great great

i just call him 'grandfather.'

and yes, that was a fine excerpt.

i have the advantage over him, though,
because a flat laptop keyboard is so much
easier than a typewriter.

i can hop around and use all the lower-case characters.

i can do carriage returns at the plop of my abdomen.

what a hoot.

i still can't do upper-case or key combinations.
the 11-year-old boy who owns this computer, tommy, does those.

i help him with his homework.
he posts my comments.

i've told him not to change anything.
sometimes he can't help himself.
so if i go on too long,
or use too many commas,
or start sounding like star wars fan fiction,
it's probably his fault.

the good stuff's usually mine.

i also want to apologize to professor althouse
when i used 'you,' talking about
leftovers behind the fridge, etc. in my first comment.

it sounded like i was referring to her apartment

i just meant 'you' generally, not that i can say anything
about her housekeeping, never having had the honor of a visit.

but if any of you were to leave a meatball behind the stove,
it would be appreciated with many thanks.

M. Simon said...

Madison Man,

Thank the Maker the peak of the season has passed here in Rockford.

The infestations are intense.

I still get one every now and then.

Galvanized said...

Now, I don't consider myself a conspiracy theorist or overly neurotic, but this subject totally creeps the living heck out of me. Haven't we discussed this before? But it was never in the shape of my beloved dragonfly! It's like those robotic scarab-like things in Minority Report, when he had to hide in the bathtub. eek!