I have a very nice drone, but I don't have enough free time to fly it more than once a week or so. But what I have noticed is that every time I want to fly it, it demands a firmware update or no-fly zone update.
Granted, it is important to build in functions in consumer drones to prevent their accidental or malicious use in the wrong place. But, I feel like there's very little true consumer ownership of the things we buy. Ubiquitous connectivity and cloud systems enable wonderful things, but us individuals and consumers find ourselves a bit ... constrained.
Every time I do my weekly start of the drone in the woods or mountains, I'm greeted with a complaint that the drone doesn't want to fly unless I make an update. Or is extremely limited in range and altitude. And as each firmware update needs about quarter of a gig download, and perhaps as much as half an hour of processing, I'll burn both time and one battery pack on the update.
Ok, so maybe this is fine. Safety is important. But, where to draw the line? What if your car won't start because it needs to download a new no-drive zone map? And you had an emergency and really needed the car? What if software updates and no-fly zones were set on commercial grounds, e.g., you don't get to fly in an interesting place because somebody else wants to retain the right to do so?
Maybe these questions sound silly, but the concept of ownership is clearly changing as part of smart objects and new electronics. What does it mean to "own" an object? Will people want to pay for objects, if they don't get to control them? Consider a piece of equipment that the manufacturer decides you cannot resell to others. We already have that for, say, movies in cloud-based services. Remember when you were able to trade your old DVDs for other ones? No longer. And if it is just movies, maybe it is ok. But what about computers? Cars? Houses?
Fortunately, there's open source. For drones, for instance.
Photo (c) 2017 by Jari Arkko