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<nettime> beneath the radar
David Golumbia on Tue, 21 Jun 2011 22:52:55 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> beneath the radar

i am will risk taking my and your important time away from studying how perfect and revolutionary are facebook and twitter to draw attention to yet another science-fiction fairly tale about what might happen someday if computers get in the wrong hands, courtesy of yet another of my wacky, paranoid, near-apocalyptic sources of worry. if you choose even to read/consider that some part of it might be true, go ahead, take a deep breath, and go back and open up WoW again. someone else will take care of it. someone open source.

From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars. Predator drones, the Cessna-sized workhorses that have dominated unmanned flight since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are by now a brand name, known and feared around the world. But far less widely known are the sheer size, variety and audaciousness of a rapidly expanding drone universe, along with the dilemmas that come with it.

The Pentagon now has some 7,000 aerial drones, compared with fewer than 50 a decade ago. Within the next decade the Air Force anticipates a decrease in manned aircraft but expects its number of âmultiroleâ aerial drones like the Reaper â the ones that spy as well as strike â to nearly quadruple, to 536. Already the Air Force is training more remote pilots, 350 this year alone, than fighter and bomber pilots combined.

âItâs a growth market,â said Ashton B. Carter, the Pentagonâs chief weapons buyer.

The Pentagon has asked Congress for nearly $5 billion for drones next year, and by 2030 envisions ever more stuff of science fiction: âspy fliesâ equipped with sensors and microcameras to detect enemies, nuclear weapons or victims in rubble. Peter W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and the author of âWired for War,â a book about military robotics, calls them âbugs with bugs.â

Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, War Evolves With Drones, Some Tiny as Bugs, The New York Times (June 19, 2011)


Chang W. Lee/The New York Times. A microdrone during a demo flight at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Filed under:
surveillance, war, what are computers for by dgloumbia


David Golumbia
dgolumbia {AT} gmail.com
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