First Platoon: A Story of Modern War in the Age of Identity Dominance
An urgent investigation into warfare in the age of biometrics, and the dangerous implications of new technologies that would allow the government to identify anyone, anywhere, at any time.
This is a story that starts off small and foreboding and goes very big and terrifying. The small part of the story might sound familiar at first: It is a war story about a platoon of mostly nineteen-year-old boys sent to Afghanistan whose experience ends abruptly in catastrophe. The big part of the story—inexorably linked to the small story and never comprehensively reported before—is the Defense Department’s quest to build the world’s most powerful biometrics database with which to monitor and police the world. To pivot its warfighting capacity from lethal action to mass cyber-surveillance using military-grade systems to identify, track, and catalogue people all over the world by their unique biological markers.
First Platoon is an American saga, a story that illuminates a developing transformation of society made possible by new technology. Part war story, part legal drama, foreboding at every turn, it is about identity in the age of identification. About human biology (physical bravery, trauma, PTSD, amputation, ghost pain) in the age of biometrics (iris scans, fingerprint scans, voice patterning, detection by odor, gait, and more). About the power of point-of-view in a burgeoning surveillance state. Ultimately, it is an investigative exposé that reveals a post-9/11 Pentagon whose identification machines have grown more capable than the humans who must make sense of them. A Pentagon so powerful it can cover up its own internal mistakes in pursuit of endless wars.
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