On a cold gray afternoon in April, about 50 students flanked by police officers gathered on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus to protest. Their message: End Gun Violence, End State Violence.
Partway through the demonstration, from behind the chemical engineering building, a six-armed drone appeared in the sky. It caught the attention of Calvin Pollak, a Ph.D. student focused on rhetoric and one of the leading voices of the Students for a Democratic Society, a CMU student group inspired by the 1960s student activist group of the same name.
“Was that a police drone? Was it a CMU drone? Like, we don’t know,” Pollak said to those assembled before launching into a critique of the military-industrial complex on campus.
A single drone hovering over a university known worldwide for robotics is hardly sinister, but its sudden appearance at a protest against state violence made it a readymade symbol for the point organizers were making:
The future of warfare is being developed at CMU, and what do we really know about it?
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