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Journal Article

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Breen, M. (2012). Killing the thing you love: Predator drones, wilful neglect and the end of the internet. International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, 8 (1), 1-14.

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2012 HERDC submission. FoR code: 080707

© Copyright Common Ground, Marcus Breen, 2012. All rights reserved.




At what point in the progress of civilization does technological development stop? Perhaps more accurately, what happens when the evolution of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) becomes dystopian? In asking these questions I want to suggest that the end of the Internet has arrived with the emergence of Predator Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), the pilotless planes with missiles used by the US Government to kill its enemies-the people with whom the US is at war. At what point does the use of peaceful technologies for making war bring an end to their value? This is not a new question but it is an awkward one because it raises key philosophical concerns about liberalism as the dominant form of social life. The critical question about the value of technology when put to war use was raised most astringently by Robert Oppenheimer, one of the originators of atomic energy and the US's Manhattan Project atom bomb. Oppenheimer asked two questions in his 1949 essay "The Open Mind" that can inform the question about drones and the Internet: "What elements are there in the conduct of foreign affairs which may be conducive to the exercise of [that] reason, which may provide a climate for the growth of new experience, new insight, and new understanding? How can we recognize such growth, and be sensitive to its hopeful meaning, while there is yet time, through action based on understanding, to direct the outcome?" These questions inform this paper and its critical evaluation of drones and their relationship with the Internet.



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