Chapter 6: The digital development-security nexus: linking cyber-humanitarianism and drone warfare
Using the promise of new technology, the aid industry is currently in the midst of renewing and rejuvenating itself. While gathering speed over the last four or five years, 2013 has seen the release of several high-level UN and NGO policy documents (for example, IFRC 2013; UNOCHA 2013), all urging the adoption of remote and mobile technologies as a way of not only making disaster management more efficient, but also as a means of more effectively calling forth self-organizing developmental communities. At such moments of renewal, and there have been others (Duffield 2001), everything appears unfamiliar, open and ready for the taking. The past problems, setbacks and failures of international aid, and there have been many, tend to disappear under the assuaging effects of the promise of the new. Today, McLuhan’s 1960s vision of the global village is more immanent than it has been for the past 50 years (Barbrook 2013). In this heady climate of renewal (and, to be frank, new opportunities to make money by the techno-companies involved), faith in the new has taken on a religious, even messianic conviction. At times like these, driven by optimistic technological determinism, it’s difficult to raise a critical voice without being labelled a Luddite or, perhaps worse, subject to excommunication as a non-believer. It is accepted that science is ceaseless in pursuit of objective knowledge and, from the atom, through genetics to climate change, it brokers no intrinsic limit on its ambitions.
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