Early Birds#1: Autonomous weapon systems – het verslag

STT Early Birds
2 juni 2018

On March 29th 2018 Dr. Filippo Santoni de Sio kicked off the very first STT Early Birds session by discussing what the future might hold when it comes to weapons systems.

Dr. Filippo Santoni de Sio is Assistant professor in Ethics of Technology at the Section Ethics/Philosophy of Technology of the TU Delft and a member of the Delft Robotics Institute.  His expertise lies in the theory of moral and legal responsibility, and in robot ethics. His work focuses on the ways in which legal issues and new technologies may change, complicate, or clarify the concepts of capacity, control, accountability and blame.

Killer robots and autonomous weapon systems that take over: are they mere frightening images that we are being served by the media? Or is the threat real? What are the most recent development in autonomous systems? What questions should we ask to prepare ourselves for a society where autonomous systems perform more and more actions? The current discussions on autonomous weapon systems and killer robots are early warning signals for the discussions other sectors. For example, the transport sector, the healthcare sector and any sectors in which systems are becoming more autonomous.

Santoni de Sio made a strong case for reaping the benefits from new technologies, like autonomous systems and AI, while reducing the ethical risks. And not accept what the current debate is, for example the one in which media seem to imply that we can either use social media like Facebook or have privacy.

To make this possible Santoni de Sio and his colleagues recommend using value-sensitive design, which is a design perspective to address ethical issues in due time. Another important factor is meaningful human control which consists of two conditions:

  1. Tacking condition: the system should be able to appropriately respond to the relevant facts of the world and the relevant (moral) reasons the human agents deploying it.
  2. Tracing condition: the system should be designed in such a way that there is always at least one human agent accountable for its behaviours along the chain of design and use.

More information on Dr. Sontoni de Sio and his work can be found here


Photo: T-Hawk remotely piloted air system in Afghanistan. © U.S Army