Monday, November 25, 2013

Ron Arkin and Rob Sparrow debate Lethal Autonomous Robots

TechDebate on Lethal Autonomous Robots published on YouTube:


Ron Arkin, Robotics Professor at Georgia Tech's College of Computing
Rob Sparrow, Philosophy Professor at Monash University in Australia and one of the founding members of the International Committee for Robot Arms-Control (

The TechDebate took place November 18, 2013

Lethal Autonomous Robots, or “LARs” for short, are machines that can decide to take human life. Such a technology has the potential to revolutionize modern warfare and more. Opponents call LARs “killer robots” because they are deadly or “lethal.” They are “autonomous” because they “can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator,” based on the data they process in the battlefield, and based on the algorithms that guide their behavior. The need for understanding LARs is essential to decide whether their development and possible deployment should be regulated or banned. This TechDebate centers on the question: Are LARs ethical?

TechDebates on Emerging Technologies, presented by the Center for Ethics and Technology (CET) have a forum for follow up to the debate at 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Last Firewall, William Hertling

Wow, time flies when you're having fun busy, and this site has been neglected way too much. But I am back to give a plug for William Hertling's fast-paced, machine-ethics-after-the-singularity tale The Last Firewall. It took a dose of 'flu for me finally to find the time to read the book, but once I started it kept me totally engaged. Hertling's story puts super-intelligent AIs, humans with neural implants, and a variety of actors who have competing political agendas into a contest requiring wits and the embodied skills of a master karateka. Hertling's characters battle each other in a hybrid arena of physical space and netspace where ethical questions about human-machine relationships are ever present.  Recommended!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Flood of Errant Trades Is a Black Eye for Wall Street

"An automated stock trading program suddenly flooded the market with millions of trades Wednesday morning, spreading turmoil across Wall Street and drawing renewed attention to the fragility and instability of the nation’s stock markets."


Monday, May 7, 2012

Air autonomy

Testing begins on Anglo-French ASTREA project which, according to a story in the Guardian, aims to replace remote-operated drones with aircraft that "will follow a set of programmed instructions, with the aim that they could fly difficult missions autonomously for days at a time." The concept of a 'man-in-the-loop' at all times is offered as a bulwark against the planes themselves releasing the laser-guided bombs they will carry, according to the story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Escargots anyone?

Roboticized snails in the NY Times. First task is to get them to cultivate their own garlic and then carry out the cooking algorithms in my previous post? (My thanks to Ken Pimple's Ethical PAIT blog for the tip.)