The Remediation of Killing: Drone Warfare from Secrecy to Social Media

Jan. 23 4:10-6:00 pm
126 Voorhies

Peter Asaro, Assistant Professor, Media Studies, The New School

The Remediation of Killing: Drone Warfare from Secrecy to Social Media For a decade the U.S. government has been pursuing a covert policy of targeted killings utilizing remote-piloted drone surveillance aircraft armed with guided missiles. The details of the policy, its legal justifications, its implementation, and its effects on both targeted communities and the personnel who conduct these operations, have been shrouded in secrecy. Yet, much of the outline of program, and the digital networks of satellite communications, video feeds, computer interfaces, and automated aircraft, is publicly known. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have also been using armed drones for targeted killing for a number of years. In a marked departure from U.S. secrecy, the IDF live-blogged their most recent conflict in the Gaza Strip. Most infamously, the IDF released video footage via its Twitter account from the drone used to launch a missile strike on the car carrying Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, just minutes after the attack on November 14, 2012.This presentation will consider this dramatic shift in the relationship between drone warfare and public media–from secrecy to social media. It will assess 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 will also examine the ways in which these technologies enable militaries and governments to better control the rhetorical framing of armed violence, and manage the civil public’s relationship to the killing that is conducted by their states.

Peter Asaro is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Programs for the School of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement in New York City. He is the co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, and has written 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.

co-sponsored by: the Mellon Initiative in Digital Cultures, the Militarization Research Group, and the American Studies program