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!