Drone Futures Seminar 2: Antoine Bousquet and Jairus Grove

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A virtual public seminar with Antoine Bousquet (Birbeck, University of London) & Jairus Grove (University of Hawai‘i )

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Seminar 2: Martial Autonomies: Rise of the War Machines with Antoine Bousquet and Jairus Grove, chaired by Michael Richardson (UNSW)

Over the last few years, an animated debate has cohered around the seemingly imminent emergence of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) endowed with the ability to decide independently on the use of deadly force and act upon it. Grave concerns have been expressed over the legal, ethical, and political implications of such systems, with anxiety extending to the very fate of the human species. But what does it really mean for our weapons to be “auto-nomous”, for them to be self-governing and literally give themselves their own “law” (nomos)? What does this technological trajectory imply for our presumed human autonomy and its role within armed conflict? And what if our present moment is only revealing what was true all along: that war possesses self-sufficient dynamics independent of its instrumentalisation for political designs or determination by other social forces?

Antoine Bousquet is Reader in International Relations at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of The Eye of War: Military Perception from the Telescope to the Drone (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) and The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity (Hurst & Columbia University Press, 2009).

Jairus Grove is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Hawai‘i Research Center for Future Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. He is the author of Savage Ecology: War and Geopolitics at the End of the World (Duke University Press, 2019).

About the Drone Futures series:

Drone Futures brings together leading artists, humanities and social science scholars whose research intersects with the emerging field of drone studies. From the neo-colonial violence of contemporary wars in the Middle East and Africa to the strange histories of unmanned aerial vehicles to activist uses in struggles for justice, this seminar series looks to the past and present to think into the future. By showcasing inter-disciplinary scholarship, it aims to spark new connections and inspire debate about how to build more just drone futures.

Taking place from August through to November 2020, the Drone Futures seminars will be streamed live to YouTube, where participants can converse and post questions through the comments function. Please register your interest in attending this virtual event.

The Drone Futures Seminar Series will culminate in the Drone Cultures Symposium, hosted virtually on the 8-10 of December by the UNSW Media Futures Hub. For a link to a recorded podcast of Drone Futures seminars, as well as information about the other presentations in the seminar series and the upcoming Drone Cultures Symposium, visit the project's website:

The Drone Cultures Symposium is funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

Drone Cultures acknowledge and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and live, particularly the Bedegal, Bidjigal and Gadigal Peoples, and their elders past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded, and the struggle for justice continues.

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