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Ethics and Lethality in Autonomous Robots

Professor Ron ArkinRegents' ProfessorGeorgia Institute of Technology

Weaponized robotic systems are being introduced into the battlefield at an ever increasing pace. The consequences of this technological progress need to be examined carefully. In this talk, I outline the philosophical basis, motivation, theory, and design recommendations for the implementation of an ethical control and reasoning system potentially suitable for constraining lethal actions in an autonomous robotic system so that they fall within the bounds prescribed by the Laws of War and Rules of Engagement. It is a further contention that an autonomous robot capable of lethal force can ultimately be more humane in the battlefield than human soldiers.

Robot architectural design recommendations are presented for (1) post facto suppression of unethical behavior, (2) behavioral design that incorporates ethical constraints from the onset, (3) the use of affective functions as an adaptive component in the event of unethical action, and (4) a mechanism in support of identifying and advising operators regarding their ultimate responsibility for the deployment of such a system.

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