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Modules for teaching undergraduates more about Silicon Valley, AI, and the military.
**Silicon Valley, AI, and the Military Syllabus**
Modules for teaching undergraduates more about Google, AI, and the military. Where I've included longer books, short article length versions that students can read in an evening would be good to find. Please feel free to add your suggestions of readings or constructive comments on structure and content below.
*Surveillance Capitalism*
Film (1h 19m): Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013)
Ceglowski, Maciej. 2017. ""Build a Better Monster: Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance"
Film (1h 30 min): Sleep Dealer (2008) This is a good futuristic movie about drones and the USA-Mexico border.
Legibility, Standardization and the State
Scott, James. "The Creation of Surnames" in Seeing Like a State, p 64-72
Haimson, Oliver & Hoffman, Anna Lauren. "Constructing and enforcing "authentic" identity online: Facebook, real names, and non-normative identities" in First Monday
*Modeling and Managing Threats in Networks*
Damon, Andre. 2018. "Google, drone murder and the military-intelligence-censorship complex."
Carroll, Rory. 2012. "Google to tackle internet crime with Illicit Networks summit"
Kundnani, Arun. 2004. "Wired for War: Military Technology and the Politics of Fear"
Dillon, Michael. "Network Society, Network Centric Warfare, and the State of Emergency," Theory, Culture, and Society 19.4 (2002).
Metz, Steven & James Kievet. "The Revolution in Military Affairs and Conflict Short of War," Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, July 25, 1994.
Metz, Steven. "Racing Toward the Future: The Revolution in Military Affairs," Current History 96 (1997).
*What is autonomous about autonomous weapons?*
Weber, J., & Suchman, L. (2016). Human–machine autonomies. In N. Bhuta, S. Beck, R. Geiβ, H. Liu, & C. Kreβ (Eds.), Autonomous Weapons Systems: Law, Ethics, Policy (pp. 75-102). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
*Who wants drone futures?*
Suchman, Lucy, Lilly Irani, and Peter Asaro. "Opinion Google's march to the business of war must be stopped" in The Guardian
Anderson, Chris. 2013. "Why We Shouldn’t Fear Personal Drones" in Time
O'Neill, Cathy. 2017. "Know Thy Futurist" in Boston Review
Chamayou, Gregoire. 2014. A Theory of the Drone. New York: The New Press.
Gusterson, Hugh 2016. Drone: Remote control warfare. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (this podcast is also great: Drone, Anthropology, Poetry:
Short Film (8min): Slaughterbots (2017) Speculative fiction in a news-reporting style, considering autonomous armed drones gone awry.
*Military, Intelligence, and the Funding of Innovation*
Schachtman, Noah. 2010. "Exclusive: Google, CIA Invest in ‘Future’ of Web Monitoring" in Wired
Bienaime, Pierre. 2014. "This Chart Shows How The US Military Is Responsible For Almost All The Technology In Your iPhone"
Jeffries, Adrienne. "Google rejects military funding for its advanced humanoid robot" in The Verge
Oldenziel, Ruth, "Islands: The United States as a Networked Empire"
*Myths of Precision*
News clip (25 min): Al Jazeera. 2010. "Collateral Murder."
Chelsea Manning leaked clips of video strikes that killed two Reuters journalists in Iraq.
Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan. 2018. "Statement: DRF condemns Google’s alliance with Pentagon"
Scott, Shane. 2015. "Drone Strikes Reveal Uncomfortable Truth: U.S. Is Often Unsure About Who Will Die"
Kaplan, Caren. 2010. "Precision Targets: GPS and the Militarization of U.S. Consumer Identity"
Louise Amoore. 2013. Algorithmic War: Everyday Geographies of the War on Terror. Antipode 41:1, pp. 49-69.
Weizman, Eyal, Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability. Zone Books, 2017.
*War Labors*
Hicks, Mar. 2017. "Ch 1: War Machines: Women’s Computing Work and the Underpinnings of the Data-Driven State, 1930–1946" in Programmed Inequality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Asaro, Peter. 2013 "The labor of surveillance and bureaucratized killing: new subjectivities of military drone operators" in Social Semiotics. Free:,%20Drone%20Subjectivities.pdf
*Computing's Military Histories*
Levine, Yasha. 2018. Surveillance Valley.
Abbate, Janet. 1999. Inventing the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Edwards, Paul. 1997. The closed world: Computers and the politics of discourse in Cold War America. MA: MIT Press.
*Computing Otherwise*
Medina, Eden. 2015. "The Cybersyn Revolution" in Jacobin.
<examples of how different political economies generate different forms of computing?>
*Additional Suggested Pieces*
<add your suggestions below or email>
“No Place to Hide”, Glenn Greenwald
“The Passion of Chelsea Manning”
Total Information Awareness, John Poindexter and the export of surveillance tech to the Singaporean RAHS - Risk Asessment and Horizon Scanning. Don't have a link to a good article though.
Transforming Computing Technology by O'Neill and Norberg is good for the historical perspective of DoD funding of the creation of AI and networks.
Total Information Awareness, John Poindexter and the export of surveillance tech to the Singaporean RAHS - Risk Asessment and Horizon Scanning. Don't have a link to a good article though.
There's some good scholarship on the intersection of the military, computers, and gaming, that also has some intersections with drones and the "video game"-like warfare of the post-Desert Storm, post-RMA world, like Huntemann & Payne, eds., Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games (Routledge, 2009).
*Extended Bibliography*
Medina, Eden. 2011. Cybernetic Revolutionaries. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Suchman, Lucy, Follis, Karolina, and Weber, Jutta. 2017. "Tracking and Targeting: Sociotechnologies of (In)security" in Science, Technology, and Human Values. (paywall)
The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), C4ISR, and Network Centric Warfare (NCW)
It's popular wisdom in the policy/strategy world that the overwhelming technological dominance of the U.S. military in Operation Desert Storm (the 1991 invasion of Iraq) unleashed what is widely known as the "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA), a fundamental change in the way warfare is conducted, with forces around the world dedicating themselves to moving toward high-tech, digital, computerized, "smart," and (eventually) networked technologies. A major part of this shift involves a transformation of traditional ideas about "command and control" (C2, in military acronymn jargon) into the much more complex and integrated concept of "C4ISR" (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) or sometimes even "C4ISTAR" (with "target acquisition" added in), all of which now involve information technologies. A related concept is "network centric warfare" (NCW), which involves the synchronization and coordination of diverse and dispersed forces through information technology. There are probably even newer concepts that describe computerized warfare, but these provide the ideological context from which contemporary drone warfare emerged. Major sources for these kinds of doctrines include Joint Vision 2020 (published in 2000) and the Quadrennial Defense Review that was published roughly every 4 years between 1997-2014, until it was replaced by the 2018 National Defense Strategy. Note that these doctrines are used to help determine what technologies and capabilities the DOD asks defense contractors to develop, as they aim to anticipate what tasks and challenges the U.S. military will face in the future.
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