Robots, Video Game Interfaces, and the InfoStructures of Remote-Controlled Warfare
Monday, February 1 2010
Peter Mario Asaro, New School University, New York
Robots, Video Game Interfaces, and the InfoStructures of Remote Controlled Warfare
Public Lecture: 12:00pm Coordinated Science Laboratory, Room B02 Auditorium
Reading Group Discussion: 1:15pm in 301 CSL
What will the coming “Robotics Revolution”–in which information networks will increasingly interact with and directly manipulate the material world–mean for civil society? Will widespread access to tele-agency transform social practices as dramatically as widespread access to tele-communications did? By examining the U.S. military, as early-adopters of tele-operated and semi-autonomous technologies, we can begin to theorize the complex relationships between the infrastructures of these distributed socio-technical systems, and
the new forms of agency and identity they enable. With the increasing frequency of news reports of military UAV drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past year, the public is becoming aware of the radical technological transformations taking place within the U.S. military, and sensing its dramatic implications for the future of armed conflict. While these are just the first wave of sophisticated robots, there is much to be learned from the ways in which they have become embedded in military command, control and communication systems, their reliance on interface technologies developed for the commercial video game industry, and the social, ethical and legal issues they raise. As various consumer robots, self-driving cars, smart homes and other tele-operated and autonomous technologies begin to transform the
physical spaces and embodied activities of our daily lives (perhaps as profoundly as the Internet has transformed our information spaces and activities), media scholars will require new critical approaches to illuminate the complex new forms of surveillance, action, agency and responsibility being created.
Peter Mario Asaro is a philosopher of science, technology and media. He is a founding member and co-director of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, a member of the faculty of the Department of Media Studies and Film at the New School University in New York, and is currently involved in the design of the natural language interface for the Wolfram|Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine for Wolfram Research, Inc. He has worked in collaborative computing, intelligent interface design, virtual reality, neural networks, computer vision, and robotics at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA), the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and Iguana Robotics, Inc. Since receiving a PhD in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science, and a Master of Computer Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana, he has been a research fellow at the
Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, the Digital Humanities HUMlab at Umeå University in Sweden, and the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University. His work includes academic scholarship, technological and artistic projects, and a feature-length documentary on social and emotional robotics entitled “Love Machine” (2001). He has written numerous articles on cybernetics, participatory design, computer modeling, the social, ethical and
legal challenges of technological development, as well as on robot ethics, military robots and just war theory.