Animals and war: anthropocentrism and technoscience



Publication Details

Salter, C. (2015). Animals and war: anthropocentrism and technoscience. NanoEthics: ethics for technologies that converge at the nanoscale, 9 (1), 11-21.


We are at the crux of a return of animals to the battlefield. Framed as an improvement over current limitations of biomimetic devices, couplings of microelectrical mechanical systems (MEMS) with insect bodies are currently being designed and created in laboratories, with funding from military agencies. Moving beyond the external attachment of computerized 'backpacks', MEMS are being implanted into larval stages to allow for living tissue to envelop otherwise fragile circuitry and electronics: the creation of bioelectronic interfaces. The weaponization of animals, with insect cyborgs as a first step-a foundation for the remaking of more complex species-is an anthropocentric solution to an anthropocentric problem. Speciesism is the normative context in which technoscientific discourse and such approaches to nanoscience and nanotechnology are situated. This is a network of actors and relationships within and across science and society. Animals are framed as mechanical devices that can be dis/enhanced for human ends. This paper engages with the remaking of species, the blurring of boundaries between mechanism and organism, and the implications of the effective disappearance of the animal as key sociotechnological challenges.

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