I’ve enjoyed Mark Rober’s videos for a while now. They are fun, touch on accessible topics, and have decent production value. But this recent video isn’t sitting right with me


The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrGENEXocJU

In it, he talks about a few techniques for how to take down “bad guy drones”, the problems with each, and then shows off the drone tech by Anduril as a solution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anduril_Industries

Anduril aims to sell the U.S. Department of Defense technology, including artificial intelligence and robotics. Anduril’s major products include unmanned aerial systems (UAS), counter-UAS (CUAS), semi-portable autonomous surveillance systems, and networked command and control software.

In the video, the Anduril product is a heavy drone that uses kinetic energy to destroy other drones (by flying into them). Quoting the person in the video:

imagine a children’s bowling ball thrown at twice as fast as a major league baseball fastball, that’s what it’s like getting hit by Anvil


This technology is scary for obvious reasons, especially in the wrong hands. What I also don’t like is how Mark Rober’s content is aimed at children, and this video includes a large segment advertising the children’s products he is selling. Despite that, he is promoting military technology with serious ethical implications.

There’s even a section in the video where they show off the Roadrunner, compare it against the patriot missiles, and loosely tie it in to defending against drones. While the Anvil could be used to hurt people, at least it is designed for small flying drones. The Roadrunner is not:

The Roadrunner is a 6 ft (1.8 m)-long twin turbojet-powered delta-winged craft capable of high subsonic speeds and extreme maneuverability. Company officials describe it as somewhere between an autonomous drone and a reusable missile. The basic version can be fitted with modular payloads such as intelligence and reconnaissance sensors. The Roadrunner-M has an explosive warhead to intercept UAS, cruise missiles, and manned aircraft.

  • bionicjoey
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    3 months ago

    Unfortunately engineering and military have a huge overlap in the US. It’s kind of inescapable. I found out recently that Destin from Smarter Every Day also worked for a weapons manufacturer before starting YouTube. These people just don’t want to think about the fact that they probably have blood on their hands.

    • Legonatic@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      I am well aware of this overlap and it doesn’t come as a surprise. I perhaps wish more of these creators acknowledged the military industrial complex and addressed what it means for their content and for the world of engineering.

    • wjrii@lemmy.world
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      3 months ago

      I don’t think Destin’s ever been real shy about his connections. Huntsville is basically nothing but NASA and missile companies, and he did a multi-part series where he lived on an active US Navy sub for two days.

      • bionicjoey
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        3 months ago

        There’s a difference between showing off a technological marvel like a nuclear submarine and not really focusing on its applications as a weapon, versus showing off a weapon and being like “it’s so cool to kill ‘bad guys’ with this stuff”

        And yeah he probably hasn’t been shy about it, I don’t watch his videos religiously. I found out during his excellent talk on the Artemis program. IIRC, he mentioned he helped design missile countermeasures, which is pretty tame as military industrial complex goes, but it’s still participating in the amelioration of killing machines, which doesn’t sit right with me. And he talked about it so nonchalantly, like he hadn’t considered that the people at the end of the barrel of the weapons he was helping design obviously were the “bad guys”

        I still have a ton of respect for the guy and his educational outreach work, and I don’t hold it against him, I just don’t get how someone could sleep at night knowing that they helped make weapons more efficient at killing people.

    • nooneescapesthelaw@mander.xyz
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      3 months ago

      He worked for the military as a missile test engineer, even did an interview with a four star general. The general described the video he was making (the interview i mean) as a weapon

      • bionicjoey
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        3 months ago

        Damn, never saw that. At least the general was forthcoming about why they do that sort of outreach.