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.
"According to University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo, the situation doesn’t give rise to any new legal issues, but is unsettling for a different reason: We are okay with cops using lethal force in a justified situation, but we expect them to do so in a familiar way—with firearms. The use of an improvised robot bomb is unsettling in the same way as if the cops had used a knife or dropped an anvil on the shooter.
"“It is essentially a jury-rigged version of a drone strike,” Ryan Calo, a University of Washington School of Law professor specializing in cyber and robotic law, told me. “If they would have been justified in throwing a grenade, then they’re likely justified in doing this, which was quite frankly a creative thing.”
"As police departments acquire more robots that were once seen only in war zones, civilian law enforcement officers are pushing into territory forged by the CIA and the U.S. Air Force to kill terrorists, said Ryan Calo, an assistant law professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and an expert on robotics and the law.
“This is not the beginning of killer robotics, domestically, but it is hard to distinguish this and a drone strike,” Calo said. “The police had exhausted their other options, they thought.”
"“The situation definitely raises interesting questions,” said Peter Asaro, an assistant professor at the New School for Public Engagement in New York City and a co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. “Who was controlling the bomb? Who was controlling the robot?”"
"“Using bombs in general is pretty unheard of in policing, rather than a firearm,” said Peter Asaro, co-founder and vice chair of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control and a philosopher of technology who teaches at the New School in New York City.
"While the Dallas event is also an outlier, the worry is that it could be a harbinger. "I hope they don’t start designing a whole series of police-armed robots," said Peter Asaro, who studies the ethical implications of military robotics and drones at The New School. "Once it becomes standard practice, it’ll be used in other instances that aren’t as cut and dry as this one.""
"But Peter Asaro, an assistant professor at the New School in New York City and a co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, wondered why, if Dallas police could detonate a bomb, they couldn’t have set off a tear gas canister attached to the robot instead.
“There are number of critical questions,” among them whether the perceived militarization of police is appropriate, Asaro said.
"“The legal framework for police use of force assumes human decision-making about immediate human threats,” Elizabeth Joh, a professor of law specializing in policing and technology at the University of California Davis, told HuffPost. “What does that mean when the police are far away from a suspect posing a threat? What does ‘objectively reasonable’ lethal robotic force look like?”
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"The American philosopher Peter Asaro is one of the leaders of the global resistance against fighting robots. "Unlike humans, they are not able to make moral and legal considerations."
"It’s sure to be a heady good time. Panel titles include “Legal Personhood For Robots,” “The Ethical Characteristics of Autonomous Robots,” and the drenched-in-wordplay “Siriously?
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.