Vienna STS Talk: Jutta Weber

08.03.2016 17:30

How To Make Targets: On Drones, Social Media Surveillance & Data-Driven Warfare

Talk presented by Jutta Weber (University of Paderborn)

The ‘Disposition Matrix’ is the central kill list of the US government. Together with drones and special forces it is a key device in the US war on terror in which man hunting – killing individuals by drone attacks and night raids – has become increasingly institutionalized. How are the targets for the Disposition Matrix and other kill and watch lists selected?

Traditionally human military analysts gathered intelligence through informants, intercepting communications, interrogating suspects but also ‘enemy’ populations in general. Recently the focus seems to shift increasingly from human and signals analysis towards data science and social media surveillance. From a distance, cultural knowledge of behavior and latent communication contained in social media data is gathered, analyzed and combined with geospatial intelligence from other sensor systems. But what are the effects of the automation of intelligence production in datadriven warfare?
Technoscience and software studies scholars have shown how software codifies, standardizes and sorts out all realms of our world. Analyzing the cultural logic, material agency and epistemological dimension of databases as well as data-mining algorithms I use recent approaches from technoscience and software studies to develop new ways to counterbalance the secrecy around security practices, to contribute to a materialoriented approach in critical security studies, and to show how non-human actors (re-)configure the targeting and killing apparatus of U.S. warfare.


Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung


Seminarraum STS, NIG, 1010 Wien, Universitätsstraße 7/II/6. Stock