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Robots accountable for war crimes? January 22, 2008

Posted by farshadf in Interesting.
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Mission_Bom_ID_Large_Wedge.jpg

Annalee Newitz over at io9 raises an interesting ethical question when she asks, “Will we hold robots accountable for war crimes?”

Here’s a bit of her post:

This isn’t idle speculation. An automated anti-aircraft cannon’s friendly fire killed nine soldiers in South Africa last year, and computer scientists speculate that as more weapons (and aircraft) are robot-controlled that we’ll need to develop new definitions of war crimes.

So how will justice be served in these cases? Presumably, we’ll punish a guilty robot by smashing it flat or refabricating it into a Kia Sportage owned by someone who commutes into DC.

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But who else would we punish, especially if these robots are autonomous? The programmer who came up with the algorithm? And would the programmer, in turn, try to prove a software glitch caused by the manufacturer? Of course, this is the same question raised when 2001: A Space Odyssey hit screens almost forty years ago and more recently in the Will Smith vehicle I Robot.

If you want to weigh into this issue on the ground floor you should make it a point to attend the Technology in Wartime conference. Your conference fee even gets you a free T-shirt (bonus).

(Gouge: CM)

(Photos: iRobot’s Bomb Disposal robot in action, courtesy iRobot; Capture from film “I Robot” starring Will Smith, courtesy 20th Century Fox)

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