, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 269-278,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 05 Apr 2011

From Killer Machines to Doctrines and Swarms, or Why Ethics of Military Robotics Is not (Necessarily) About Robots

Abstract

Ethical reflections on military robotics can be enriched by a better understanding of the nature and role of these technologies and by putting robotics into context in various ways. Discussing a range of ethical questions, this paper challenges the prevalent assumptions that military robotics is about military technology as a mere means to an end, about single killer machines, and about “military” developments. It recommends that ethics of robotics attend to how military technology changes our aims, concern itself not only with individual robots but also and especially with networks and swarms, and adapt its conceptions of responsibility to the rise of such cloudy and unpredictable systems, which rely on decentralized control and buzz across many spheres of human activity.