lecture: The Global Assassination Grid

The Infrastructure and People behind Drone Killings

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As they say in the Air Force, ‚No comms no bombs‘, – A technician’s insight into the invisible networks governing military drones and the quest for accountability

Cian has spent a great deal of time thinking about the issues of responsibility in, and how communications technology has been used to distance people from the act of killing. Rising superpowers around the world are working day and night to build the next stealth drone that can penetrate air defense systems. The automation of target selection processes, navigation and control are incentivized by the vulnerability posed by the signals drones rely upon to operate.

A drone is merely a networked platform that moves across a grid, much like a mouse. It’s „mind“ is distributed among dozens of individuals located around the globe, controlling separate parts of the the overall mission using data derived from surveillance, and processed using algorithms that may or may not reflect the reality on the ground. Cian challenges the common notion that drones are the most effective tool for combatting terrorism and seeks to explain why this is so, as well as how mistakes happen. The automation of these processes will further take the responsibility out of the hands of individuals and disperse them further. This calls for a new level of ethical considerations and accountability mechanisms to be developed.

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