The Disposition of Drones

When civilians talk about military drones, we often imagine the aerial view, the remote-controlled camera, the fuzzy targets on a screen. Operations on the ground are considerably more varied, and harder to picture. The first thing to understand is that the image of a lone gamer-pilot with his finger on the button­­ is a myth. Drones are frequently controlled by multiple teams sharing a common interface, in conditions that may be noisy or dusty or windy. Agency is embedded in networks of military bodies, buildings, vehicles, communications and information apparatus; shaped by human interaction and interpretation; mediated by images, interfaces, infrastructures; all under the influence of larger cultural systems. When we can’t see this, we aren’t really talking about drones at all...

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