This is an invitation for a lecture by Lucy Suchman at the ITU on November 29 at 14 hrs in Aud 1.
Remote Control: Asymmetric entanglements of bodies and machines
Drawing from recent work in Science and Technology Studies, this talk will explore configurations at the interface of bodies and machines within the danger zones of contemporary war fighting. More specifically, I consider developments in remotely controlled aircraft and robots, devices designed to keep ‘our’ bodies safe, while putting ‘the enemy’ at greater risk. I read media accounts of these initiatives to address a wider problematic regarding recognition and identification in the domain of remotely controlled warfighting. While science fiction and popular culture anxiously anticipate a future of autonomous weapons and robot soldiers, more intimate configurations of human and machine are presently in play in the form of new devices (drone aircraft, battlefield robots) for the projection of action at a distance. While critics rightly direct our attention to questions regarding the ethical and legal status of mechanized decision making, I focus here on a prior question regarding the promise of ‘decision’ itself. Arguably always a fictive prelude to action, the moment of decision becomes further distributed across messy assemblages of sociotechnical mediation that presuppose the recognizability of their objects, at the same time that those objects become increasingly difficult to define.