“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seven Theses on Drones

(1) Before drones, there would never have been a front page headline on something like the Huffington Post on the psychological stresses etc. of being a fighter pilot.

(2) Fighter pilots press buttons in vicarious enough little rooms far away from their target.

(3) Are opponents of drones seriously advocating that one go "back" to a less mediated age? Doesn't it seem like, under the fig leaf of wanting less industrial violence on Earth, there is a desperate need to preserve the illusion of personal "risk" and authenticity--yeah right with a gigantic AWACS operation above you and bombers around, the only thing that might happen on a regular basis is a malfunction that forces you to eject.

(4) Unless one seriously wants to revise utility theories, having one less person at risk of death in a conflict is a good thing.

(5) Loads of other countries have them. Britain however has an Official Secrets Act that gives them deniability.

(6) I can see the utter horror of a push button holocaust in which an entire city is wiped indiscriminately. I can see the slightly less horror of a push button targeting of small groups of people or individuals. But see (2) and (4).

(7) Drones have ruthlessly demystified the glamor and "heroism" of pushing buttons in a cockpit such that an enormous weapon will descend on the enemy, a logical consequence of industry and technology. The mediation has finally forced us to think about the intersection of war, technology and psychological violence. Which was already the case.

Discuss. He said in his most exasperated devil's advocate voice.

1 comment:

John B-R said...

You write: "(4) Unless one seriously wants to revise utility theories, having one less person at risk of death in a conflict is a good thing." Is that still the case when drones shove *al*l the risk over onto one side of the combat only? I'm not a philosopher, but I somehow think that screws up the theory, no, that's too strong, it makes it too difficult for me to think. So I'm actually asking.