As armed surveillance drones have become the iconic weapon of the early 21st Century warfare and symbol of technological and military power, their use has also become embedded in the multi-faceted conceptual, rhetorical and practical nexus that is radically transforming how we conceive and conduct armed conflict. This presentation will consider the material, political, economic and conceptual alignments that have led to the current state of drone warfare and the forces shaping the emergence of new autonomous military technologies. From the fraught development of interfaces for tele-operated flight control, to the rhetoric of risk and preemption, to the human impacts of unpredictable, unbounded, unmanned warfare, this presentation examines the emergence of drone technologies through multiple socio-technical processes of mediation. In particular, it considers the remediation of killing in armed conflict as digital media removes soldiers from battle via remote and automated systems, as well as provides powerful new means of generating and disseminating images of armed conflict. It also considers the ways in which these technologies enable militaries and governments to better control the rhetorical framing of armed violence, open up legal grey zones, and manage the civil public’s relationship to the killing that is conducted by their states.
Bio: Dr. Peter Asaro is a philosopher of science, technology and media. His work examines the interfaces between social relations, human minds and bodies, artificial intelligence and robotics, and digital media. His current research focuses on the social, cultural, political, legal and ethical dimensions of military robotics and UAV drones, from a perspective that combines media theory with science and technology studies. He has written widely-cited papers on lethal robotics from the perspective of just war theory and human rights. Dr. Asaro's research also examines agency and autonomy, liability and punishment, and privacy and surveillance as it applies to consumer robots, industrial automation, smart buildings, and autonomous vehicles.
Dr. Asaro has held research positions at the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University, the HUMlab of Umeå University in Sweden, and the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. He has also developed technologies in the areas of virtual reality, data visualization and sonification, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robot vision, and neuromorphic robotics at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA), the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and Iguana Robotics, Inc., and was involved in the design of the natural language interface for the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine (winner of the 2010 SXSW Web Interactive Award for Technical Achievement), for Wolfram Research.
Dr. Asaro received his PhD in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also earned a Master of Arts from the Department of Philosophy, and a Master of Computer Science from the Department of Computer Science.