Jeremy Packer & Joshua Reeves, Killer Apps: War, Media, Machine. Duke University Press, 2020. x + 270 pages. Hardcover, $75.40, Paperback, $26.95.

Authorde Arimateia da Cruz, Jose
PositionArticle 11

Nations around the world still vividly remember the first Gulf War in 1991. During that conflict, Saddam Hussein's forces attempted to leave Kuwait City via Highway 80 only to be incinerated by the United States and its coalition forces in the process, according to David Kilcullen's The Dragons and the Snakes (2020). The first Gulf War illustrated what conflicts in the twenty-first century would be like. The wars of the future would be automated and computerized. Conflicts would not be taking place in some remote jungle of South East Asia or Africa. Conflicts would be taking place in major urban centers where who is friend or foe is impossible to detect. Most importantly as the Gulf War of 1991 showed, media technology was to become an integral part of the Army's arsenal in future conflicts. Media technology are those technologies that "offer different manipulations of the time/space axis, thus ushering in new political realities and military velocities through their unique capacities to select, store, and process information" (p.2).

Jeremey Packer is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto's Institute for Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology and Joshua Reeves is an Associate Professor at Oregon State University's School of Communication and Media. In their book Killer Apps: War, Media, Machine, Packer and Reeves use media theory as a lens to analyze the history of warfare. According to the authors, they are concerned about the role of the media in enemy epistemology and enemy production (p. 4). This enemy epistemology is "beholden to a specific media logic--that is, a logic of sensation, perception, reason, and comprehension specific to a given medialogical environment" (p. 5). This enemy epistemology is in a constant state of flux, not only locally but also internationally, as the media are constantly producing new enemies and new methods of enemy identification stimulate the development of new weapons technologies designed to kill those newly identified enemies (p. 7). Within this realm of enemy epistemology development, artificial intelligence (AI) will play an important role. Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) are a special class of weapons systems that, once activated, can identify and engage a target without further human intervention. Semi-autonomous weapons are currently in use today, but the transfer of the decision to kill to machines inevitably raises novel ethical, legal, and political concerns...

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