Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kenneth Anderson, who is a Law Professor at Washington College of Law, American University, commented on the NYTimes Magazine's Guilty Robots article at the Opinio Juris Website

Although I am strongly in favor of the kinds of research programs that Professor Arkin is undertaking, I think the ethical and legal issues, whether the categorical rules or the proportionality rules, of warfare involve questions that humans have not managed to answer at the conceptual level. Proportionality and what it means when seeking to weigh up radically incommensurable goods - military necessity and harm to civilians, for example - to start with. One reason I am excited by Professor Arkin’s attempts to perform these functions in machine terms, however, is that the detailed, step by step, project forces us to think through difficult conceptual issues regarding human ethics at the granular level that we might otherwise skip over with some quick assumptions. Programming does not allow one to do that quite so easily.

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