The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
The use of robots inevitably changes the equation for how police apply "use of force," a term that is broadly defined by the International Association of Chiefs of Police as the "amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject."
The robot used by the Dallas police department to kill Micah Johnson — the sniper who fired into a peaceful protest and killed five police officers, injuring others — was originally designed to defuse explosives. The police attached a pound of the explosive C4 to the robot, creating a makeshift weapon out of a design that was not intended to inflict harm on people. The robot was also remote-controlled, not autonomous.
Last week the Future of Life Institute released a letter signed by some 1,500 artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and technology researchers. Among them were celebrities of science and the technology industry—Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak—along with public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and Daniel Dennett. The letter called for an international ban on offensive autonomous weapons, which could target and fire weapons without meaningful human control.
Patrick Lin made interesting observations on the ethical notion of human dignity in the context of LAWS. Even if LAWS could act in accordance with IHL, taking of human life by machines violates a right to dignity that may even be more fundamental to the right to life.
Download the attached PDF to read Patrick Lin's full testimony.
"And while it is a scary thought that—singularity or not—autonomous robots might be on the battlefield soon, it's also worth noting that robot soldiers will most likely suck for a long time according to Peter Asaro, philosopher of science and technology at the New School, and a spokesperson for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.
"Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington who’s a leading expert on the intersection of robots and law, said making law enforcement agencies draft policies about how and when they can use robots and drones forces them to think through scenarios in advance. “If you want to put a Taser on a drone and tase a mentally ill person,” Calo said, “or if you want to follow someone around with a drone, that’s where you need to have a process in place that you’ve properly vetted with the leadership.”"
""What you still want is humans to designate the target in advance and ensure they are legal and lawful targets before the system is deployed," said Peter Asaro, a philosopher who studies artificial intelligence and is co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control."
"Peter Asaro, vice-chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control — which is campaigning for a treaty to ban “killer robots” — questions whether a machine can be programmed to make the sort of moral and ethical choices that a human does before taking someone’s life.
Soldiers must consider whether their actions are justified and risks that they take are proportionate to a threat, he said.
"Ryan Calo, who teaches robotics law at the University of Washington, agreed.
"Robots raise special concerns in society," Calo said, pointing to movie depictions of autonomous killer robots and their use in war zones. Law enforcement agencies need to take steps to ensure the public that robots are being used appropriately, he said.
He said the frequent use of robots to kill would go beyond what the country is ready for. "I just cannot imagine in our society right now, that we would tolerate robots that were routinely armed.""
"“While robots could be a good tool, police should be aware of how visceral our reactions are to them,” Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law and a robotics expert at the University of Washington, told Truthdig. “A mistake with a car, where you run into somebody, even a mistake with a Taser, doesn’t start a national or international conversation in the way that activity with a robot does.”"
"But Ryan Calo, law professor and expert in legal issues and robotics saw little difference between the bomb robot and having a sniper shoot from a distance.
"No court would find a legal problem here. When someone is an ongoing lethal danger, there isn’t an obligation by officers to put themselves in harm’s way," he said"
"“It is crucially important for the international community to establish a norm that prohibits delegating the authority to take human lives to machines,” Peter Asaro, a representative for the campaign, told me."
""It raises a lot of concern about the increased weaponization of robots that the police use," said Peter Asaro, a co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. The deadly use of the explosive C4 attached to the robot in Dallas is used by the military in combat situations.
"Once, I think, police departments have these kinds of weapons in their arsenal, it provides the opportunity to use them in a lot of different kinds of scenarios," said Asaro."
"“We use the predator drone to target people overseas, and now we see the police force using a [robot] to target someone in a US city, and that catches people's attention,” says Peter Asaro, a professor of media studies at The New School in New York City, who specializes in artificial intelligence and robotics."
Hours after gunman Micah Johnson ambushed police officers in downtown Dallas, he was killed by a bomb strapped on a police robot. Robots in the past have stopped a lot of dangerous situations, but using a robot to kill - that was a first for a domestic police force. Kris Van Cleave reports on the ethical questions about the use of robots to kill suspects.
Affiliate Scholar Peter Asaro is interviewed.
Robotic warfare is no longer the realm of science fiction. From drones to the development of lethal, autonomous robotic weaponry, we take a look at the ethics of the future of killer robots and where this will ultimately lead mankind.
Are you worried about killer robots? Last week, some of the most prominent thinkers in science and technology signed an open letter that warned of the coming arms race should militaries pursue the development and deployment of artificially intelligent weaponry. The letter was written by The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an international coalition of NGOs, and was signed by almost 14,000 people, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak.
It may be old news here in Hollywood -- but the world’s scientists are now warning us about killer robots. Hundreds of scientists, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk wrote an open letter released this week, in which they warned of a global A.I. arms race.Peter Asaro
CIS Affiliate Scholar David Levine interviews Peter Asaro of the School of Media Studies at The New School, on killer robots.
Killer robots — or lethal autonomous weapons systems — could be the future but should they have a mind of their own to decide who lives or dies?
It is a complex topic being debated at a expert convention in Geneva.
Beverley O'Connor speaks to Dr Peter Asaro, who is the co-founder and vice-chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control.