I published stories with 12 publications this year. Here's some of the highlights.
In February, back when both travel and staff jobs were a thing, I traveled to the never-finished Satsop nuclear reactor outside Elma, Washington and watched as robots autonomously navigated a DARPA-designed obstacle course under ground c4isrnet.com/unmanned/robot…
Here's a second story on that, a longer look at the specific ~implications~ of designing autonomous robots for the military to use in places where signals struggle c4isrnet.com/battlefield-te…
I really enjoyed writing the Tomorrow Wars newsletter for C4ISRNET, which ended abruptly. Here's one on the long time span of explosives left undetonated c4isrnet.com/artificial-int… and here's one on NORAD using Santa to sell Nuclear Defense c4isrnet.com/artificial-int…
Last big story from C4ISRNET is one I think with the longest-term implications. It's possible the way we calculate collision risk in orbit is all wrong & too low, which means we risk catastrophe this decade as we fill orbit with more and more satellites c4isrnet.com/c2-comms/satel…
At @inkstickmedia, I wrote about the long history of plague as a tool of war inkstickmedia.com/the-plague-and…
For @FutureTenseNow, I wrote about live nuclear testing, slate.com/technology/202…, how UFO myths are a durable side-effect of the National Security State slate.com/technology/202… and, most durably, living in 2020 as experiencing only bad parts of cyberpunk slate.com/technology/202…
For @ForeignPolicy, I wrote about aid to Lebanon after the Beirut explosion foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/19/leb…, about how EMP fears obscure nuclear risk foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/21/ele…, and most especially about the continuity of drone war from Obama to Trump foreignpolicy.com/2020/05/22/oba…
Also on the drone beat: for @waypoint I reviewed Drone Swarm, a game that makes swarm management a chore vice.com/en/article/m7a…. At @RStatecraft, I wrote about how the Sword Missile is a tech attempt to solve a political problem, which it cannot do responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/07/06/the…
For @ozm, I wrote about federal drones and other aircraft tracking protestors for police onezero.medium.com/predator-drone…. For @sciam, I wrote about the harm of less-lethal weapons, and their shared history as police & colonial tools scientificamerican.com/article/what-l…
This year, I was part of the launch of @DiscontentsNews, with a whole bunch of great writers. My big essays there cover vehicle assaults on protestors discontents.substack.com/p/our-weekly-d… and how little Space Force means in the face of mass death from the pandemic discontents.substack.com/p/our-year-end…
I also launched my own newsletter, inspired by my time at Tomorrow Wars. I'm particularly proud of my essays on Star Wars & WWII athertonkd.substack.com/p/stormtropers, loitering munitions athertonkd.substack.com/p/kettering-bu…, and nuclear risk, civil defense, and Christmas trees athertonkd.substack.com/p/christmasand…
I managed to write 30 stories for @Forbes. Here's the best of them: on Halifax and Beirut forbes.com/sites/kelseyat…, cyborg locusts, forbes.com/sites/kelseyat…, and testing inert nuclear bomb casings forbes.com/sites/kelseyat…
I also wrote 28 stories for @BreakingDefense. Here's my two favorites: DARPA training AI to break wargames breakingdefense.com/2020/08/darpa-… and industry promising super-capable lethal autonomy while showing video that labels a tree a person breakingdefense.com/2020/10/indust…
Also with @lukeisamazing we recorded at least 36 episodes of @PHOTORpod this year? Probably more. soundcloud.com/photor-pod/tra…
All told: the weirdest year of my career so far, and I feel fortunate to have been as well supported through it as I have been. Thanks for reading my stuff, and I look forward to someday being able to do the work without the hustle, again.
(quick math: I think this year I published 119 stories/newsletters total)

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More from @AthertonKD

23 Dec
This is, I think, a decent place for people on the left to start with thinking more holistically about civilian control of the military. We are especially fortunate that 19+ years of continuous war has failed to produce hero generals (admirals, etc) fx.substack.com/p/military-mat…
I got at this a little in my thread on defense secretary nominees, but the concentrated power of the Pentagon and the waiver requirement for a general (or admiral, etc) to run it comes from the same moment, the 1947 birth of the Permanent NatSec State
by creating a superstructure on top of the Department of War and the Department of the Navy, the US for the first time ensured that the chain of command led to a person besides the president. A lot of power, and a lot of fancy generals and admirals to contest it all at once.
Read 8 tweets
23 Dec
It'd be Fog of War but with Tarkin instead of McNamara. Dozens of people would see it.
ME: go ahead

TARKIN: Any Moff who is honest will admit that he has made mistakes in the application of military power. He's killed people unnecessarily. A hundred, or thousands, or tens of thousands, maybe even a hundred thousand. But, he hasn't destroyed worlds. He should have
(I was trying to satirize it but like that's barely changed wording from what McNamara actually said errolmorris.com/film/fow_trans…)
Read 4 tweets
20 Dec
my running thesis is this: the particular president is somewhat too inept to actually muster the energy and planning to just seize government, but he's outlined how someone with like a half-step more skill and institutional buy-in could do it in an election decided by one state
the coda to this is that the military (and, to a lesser degree, police at local and federal levels) don't actually feel particularly threatened by the incoming administration, and so without Trump dead-enders in leadership there's little they would gain. That's variable in future
Abolish ICE isn't just good policy and a basic need for human dignity, it's a way for future administrations to protect themselves against hard-right dead-enders on government payroll, who this summer proved willing to smash skulls on behalf of partisan aims before.
Read 7 tweets
16 Dec
Was Scrooged the last Christmas Carol film to try updating the setting to a modern era? I feel like so much of the specificity of the part feels timebound to, well, Dickensian England, and it's genuinely embarrassing that we don't have, like, the Eviction-via-App Scrooge.
Me, drafting the above tweet: "no more period piece Christmas Carol films..."

Me, reading the wiki: "...unless it's Dolly Parton Presents: Scrooge and the Battle of Blair Mountain"
Yuppie Media Exec Bill Murray was a good villain for 1988, complete with now-glaring Trump joke.

But like, Tom Hanks as a Bezos-type or Bill Hader riffing on Elon Musk, something near the villain of the now.

Hell, let Jesse Eisenberg do Zuckerman again but Scroogier.
Read 5 tweets
15 Dec
Knausenberger is a big fan of this Millennium Falcon interior from Solo. At least the second conference where she's used it. Image
Ah, okay Image
oodaloop! drink! Image
Read 7 tweets
8 Dec
I'd argue the most successful Secretary of Defense since the position was created in 1947 was William Perry, who had two distinct advantages: his time in office was the easiest to rethink the post-Cold War defense budget, but his immediate predecessor set that in motion.
he'd get my nod just on his refusal to fund missile defense. Fighting the worst impulses of Congress and the Pentagon on acquisitions is a hugely underrated part of the job.
If you're looking for independence and civilian control, what you want in a SecDef is not just a career outside uniform, but a background and an ideological temperament that is willing to disagree with the defense industry writ large on what it sees as vital spending needs.
Read 12 tweets

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