Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Killer robots and military ethics

Professor Christian Enemark will speak on "Killer robots: military ethics and post-human war" at the Australian National University in Canberra, 5:30pm 8 August 2013.

Event Details

About the topic

In April this year the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions recommended a moratorium on the development of lethal autonomous weapon systems (so-called ‘killer robots’). In some countries there is strong technological and military momentum towards the use of such systems, partly because the physical and mental frailties of human users of force are increasingly seen as posing operational risks and impediments. However, there is also growing concern over the prospect of a machine that can make a decision to extinguish human life. From an ethical perspective, an argument in favour of autonomy might be that, given the poor record of human adherence to principles of military ethics, a robot could be programmed to do a better job. An alternative is to hold fast to the notion that war is necessarily, albeit tragically, a human affair. In exploring the idea of ‘post-human war’, Christian Enemark addresses the critical issue of whether robotics technology can overcome ethical shortcomings in the use of force while preserving the moral influence of human responsibility.

About the Speaker

Christian Enemark is Associate Professor in the National Security College, Crawford School of Public Policy. Prior to completing a PhD at the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Christian worked as a policy advisor in the Parliament and Attorney General's Department of New South Wales. He has held academic positions as Lecturer in Global Security at the University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, and Senior Lecturer in International Security at the University of Sydney. Christian has held ANU Visiting Fellowships at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (2007-08) and the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (2009-11). He currently teaches two postgraduate courses -- NSPO8013 Disease, Security and Biological Weapons, and NSPO8014 Ethics and Technologies of War -- and he was listed among the Crawford School's 'Best Teachers' in 2012.

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