The enthusiasm for these future technologies echoes the debates around the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Assuming superior technologies would lead to battlefield success and ultimately victory in war, proponents of the RMA then saw a new era of Western military dominance in the making. While explicit references to the RMA have become somewhat subdued, it is still increasingly alleged that emerging technologies are set to profoundly transform the conduct of warfare. However, the exact relationship between war and technology is far from straightforward. New technologies continue to push warfare in new and unexpected directions, but how and in what ways is far from clear.

Engaging in the broad debates surrounding the relationship between technology and warfare, Antoine Bousquet examines in this seminar how perceptual technologies have shaped the history of war from the Renaissance to the present and with what consequences. Drawing on his recently published monograph The Eye of War, Bousquet will chart the historical constitution, present operation, and future ramifications of what he considers to be our contemporary martial condition, that of a global battlespace placed under intense and persistent observation and in which “visibility equals death.”

From ubiquitous surveillance to drone strikes that put “warheads onto foreheads,” we live in a world of globalized, individualized targeting in which anything or anyone that can be perceived can be destroyed anywhere on the planet. Through an examination of successive technological systems, Antoine Bousquet will argue that war has increasingly become a struggle for mastery over the fields of perception, with profound consequences for the character of armed conflict, the human subjects waging it, and international politics in the twenty-first century.

Antoine Bousquet is Reader in International Relations at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is the author of The Eye of War: Military Perception from the Telescope to the Drone and The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity. He has also contributed an array of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on subjects that include the revolution in military affairs, Cold War computing, jihadist networks, complexity theory, and the conceptualisation of war.

NUPI Research Fellow Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud will moderate the event.

This will be the first in a new seminar series examining the relationship between war, technology and society, organized as part of the research project Science, technology and warfare of the future.

After the event, it will be possible to buy Bousquet's book The Eye of War: Military Perception from the Telescope to the Drone for 200 NOK.

The seminar will be streamed live at NUPI's YouTube channel: