Video: Brinc Pitched Tasing Migrants From Drones – The Intercept

Video: Brinc Pitched Tasing Migrants From Drones – The Intercept

Brinc, a rising star among the many companies jockeying to sell drones to police, has a compelling founding mythology: In the wake of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, its young founder decided to aid law enforcement agencies through the use of nonviolent robots. A company promotional video obtained by The Intercept, however, reveals a different vision: Selling stun gun-armed drones to attack migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The company’s ascendant founder and CEO, Blake Resnick, recently appeared on Fox Business News to celebrate a venture capital coup: $25 million from Silicon Valley A-listers like Sam Altman, ex-LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s Next Play Ventures, and former acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. The 21-year-old Resnick, a Thiel fellow and a new inductee to the prestigious Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the category of social impact, told Fox Business’s Stuart Varney that Brinc’s quadcopter drones are helping police defuse dangerous hostage situations on a near-daily basis. Resnick repeated his longtime claim that the company had been founded “in large part” as a lifesaving response to the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, an inspirational story that’s made its way into press coverage of the startup. With increased scrutiny paid to the moral and bodily harms posed by autonomous militarized robots, Brinc’s “Values & Ethics” webpage offers a salve, asserting a “duty to bring these technologies into the world responsibly” and a commitment to “never build technologies designed to hurt or kill.”

But a 2018 promotional video for an unreleased border security product shows that the startup’s original technological goals did involve hurting people. In the video, Resnick, standing at an unnamed stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, demonstrates how his company’s flying bots could be used to detect, track, interrogate, and ultimately physically attack would-be migrants. “This is one of the most desolate parts of our southern border,” a blazer-clad Resnick says in the video, standing beside a large metallic box adorned with solar panels. “Every year, over $100 billion of narcotics and half a million people flow through areas just like this one.” When the video was made, the Trump administration had begun investing in so-called virtual wall surveillance technologies to obviate the need for the physical wall that Donald Trump had promised during his presidential campaign, inking contracts with Brinc competitors like Anduril Industries (also linked to Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder behind the Thiel Fellowship). “There’s no wall here,” notes Resnick, “and it probably wouldn’t work anyway because of the rough terrain and eminent domain issues.” Luckily, “there is a solution,” says Resnick, gesturing to the metal chest.

Resnick would have been about 18 at the time the video was made.

In the video, Resnick calls that solution the “Wall of Drones,” in which the glinting boxes would be deployed across the border, each harboring a small robotic quadcopter with high-definition and thermal sensors, self-piloting abilities, human-detection software, and, crucially, a stun gun. Once Brinc’s border drone detected a “suspicious” person, it was to connect its sensors and built-in speaker with a Border Patrol agent, who would then remotely “interrogate” the “perpetrator.” In the video demonstration, a Latino actor referred to as “José” is walking in the middle of the desert when he is approached by …….