Responsibility Practices and Unmanned Military Technologies

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Abstract

The prospect of increasingly autonomous military robots has raised concerns about the obfuscation of human responsibility. This papers argues that whether or not and to what extent human actors are and will be considered to be responsible for the behavior of robotic systems is and will be the outcome of ongoing negotiations between the various human actors involved. These negotiations are about what technologies should do and mean, but they are also about how responsibility should be interpreted and how it can be best assigned or ascribed. The notion of responsibility practices, as the paper shows, provides a conceptual tool to examine these negotiations as well as the interplay between technological development and the ascription of responsibility. To illustrate the dynamics of responsibility practices the paper explores how the introduction of unmanned aerial vehicles has led to (re)negotiations about responsibility practices, focusing particularly on negotiations within the US Armed Forces.