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It isn’t the law that is struggling to catch up to drone technology; it’s us.

"Evil is ineradicable and if life had a finish line it would win. But it doesn’t."

Lindsay Lohan on TNI’s COPS

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If it’s the other way around, however—and if the state can do anything it’s not specifically barred from doing—then we have the reverse scenario. If the law doesn’t tell the government how to regulate speech or commerce, then the government gets to decide how it wants to regulate speech or commerce and even if it wants to at all. In other words, the fact that you haven’t loaded Driving for iDummies on your laptop might not stop it from sneaking out while you’re sleeping and taking your girlfriend’s Honda Fit for a late-night tryst. After that, it might decide that human beings are a contagion and set off to eradicate them. Not having been instructed on when and where it is appropriate to exterminate all human life, it might well decide that today is the day to get some real work done.

Aaron Bady, “Dumb Computers, Smart Cops”

This essay appears in the newest issue of The New Inquiry magazine. Subscribe today for $2.

The New Inquiry, No. 7: Cops is out today. Support TNI with a $2 subscription.

Rather than reduce human error — a long-standing technocratic ideal that claims the right tools will free one from crashes, malfunctions, capture in enemy hands, and other folly — the drone campaign has found a strategic way to keep American pilots at a safe and comfortable distance and exonerate individual commanders from mistakes on the rare occasion that it admits to them. A blind-looking metal bird is a surefire alibi.

Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, “Paranoid Androids”

We should be extremely wary of claims to innocence by any “victim” of the Obama administration. We know Republicans will stop at nothing to undermine his presidency, so when confronted with hundreds of children burned to death by Hellfire missiles under his watch, one must ask, Who does it benefit? If their charred remains will be used to undermine the left’s enthusiasm for the president, depressing voter turnout — a classic tactic of Karl Rove — can they really be said to be innocent at all?

Charles David, “Drone Court Advantage”

Even as we debate the legal machinations, official leaks and governmental manipulations by which they are killed, the daily, material, precarious existence of the people living under the disquieting hum of American drones in Pakistan’s tribal areas rarely sits at the center of discussion.

Do you recall the first time you realized your legs were not there?

I was in bed, and I was wrapped in bandages. I tried to move them, but I couldn’t, so I asked, “Did you cut off my legs?” They said no, but I kind of knew.

Madiha Tahir, “Louder than Bombs”
This piece appears in TNI Vol. 6 “Game of Drones,” subscribe here for $2 and get the full issue
Like vibrators, drones will inevitably proliferate far beyond the clinical confines of their original use.

Ironically, the creation of machines to spare men from having to encounter a woman’s orgasmic needs would lead to the dissolution of the andro-centric view of sexuality, making it as unfathomably bizarre as the 14th century idea of a flat earth. The advent of the armed drone carries with it the same seed, inevitably bound to destroy the philosophic foundation of war, and the privilege of defining the enemy that comes with it. The greater the ability to wage war without putting soldiers in harm’s way, the more absurd war becomes: an expression of inflexibility and sanctimony, fearfully condemning the unknown based on strangely inhuman interpretations. Everything looks like a threat from above, every body a terrorist, someone who hates us for being who we are.

Mike Thomsen, “Vagina Analogues”

Looking out a window seat at 37,000 feet; zooming way out with Google Earth; seeing the world through the camera eye of a Hummingbird drone—these sorts of experiences de-center the human being, even as they imply human control.  They communicate that humans are merely one species migrating around merely one planet in a vast universe.

Christopher Shaeberg, “Missing Captain” 


In terms of resisting these transformations… If a taxi company has a way for someone in Jakarta to drive the taxies in New York, and it’s going to reduce their costs tenfold, I don’t even know the language to talk about what’s lost for the passenger. And I don’t know how we organize a rhetoric or critique against the idea of more telepresent labor, because the power of the profit motive, of business ontology, is so extreme and universal that its march into every sector of our lives presents itself as a natural truth.

"Border Control" — New Inquiry Senior Editor Malcolm Harris in conversation with artist Alex Rivera

This interview appears in The New Inquiry No. 6: Game of Drones