Ian Kerr & Katie Szilagyi on “Asleep at the Switch? How Lethal Autonomous Robots Become a Force Multiplier of Military Necessity”

Ian Kerr

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) justifies the use of military force with a necessity/proportionality calculus, which weighs a military operation’s necessity against the harm resulting from carrying out that operation. Robotic warfare proponents believe the advanced sensory capabilities of machines will outperform human soldiers and save lives by reducing injustices in armed conflict by better and more consistently comporting with IHL norms.   Ian Kerr and Katie Szilagyi argue that Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs) threaten to erode the IHL framework because the robotization of warfare permits us to redefine IHL norms. The authors illustrate how laws of war purport to the principle of technological

Katie Szilagyi

neutrality—the belief that general laws are superior to specific ones, and that forbidding the implementation of particular technologies is inappropriate.  They reject the application of this principle, arguing that we must consider approaches that contemplate the transformative effects of robotic military technologies.

Ian Kerr and Katie Szilagyi will present Asleep at the Switch? How Lethal Autonomous Robots Become a Force Multiplier of Military Necessity at the Military Robotics Panel Presentation on Sunday, April 22nd at 3:15pm at We Robot 2012 at the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Florida.  Ian Kerr is a Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa, Canada, where he holds cross-appointments to the Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Philosophy.  He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a JD from Western University.  Dr. Kerr is the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology.  Katie Szilagyi is a current J.D. candidate at the University of Ottawa, Canada.  She will clerk at the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa, Ontario in 2012-2013.  Her primary research interest is in legal responses to social and structural challenges created by new technologies.

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