On Friday 10 November, the Adelaide Law School hosted Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA for a presentation titled ‘Legal Autonomous Weapons and the Plight of the Noncombatant’. Professor Arkin is a world-renowned roboticist and robo-ethicist working across multiple projects including robot-human interaction, robot ethics, and learning in autonomous systems.
Co-sponsored by the and Research Unit for the Study of Society, Ethics and the Law (RUSSEL) and the Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE), this presentation saw Professor Arkin guide the audience of students, professionals and academics from across the University through the ethical, legal, technical and operational issues associated with the use of autonomous weaponry in the battlespace. The presentation was incredibly engaging, with Professor Arkin also answering a number technically and legally grounded questions on the efficacy of autonomous weaponry, the implications for international humanitarian law, whether society should move towards adopting robots for aggressive military activities and broader ethical implications of the introduction of autonomous robots to warfighting, broader military operations and peacetime activities.
The Research Unit for the Study of Society, Ethics and the Law (RUSSEL) focusses on the intersection of ethics and the law and draws together multi-disciplinary teams to ask the critical question of: Just because we can do something, does it mean we ought to? This question is crucial to any consideration of the introduction of autonomous robots, and is also relevant to the Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE) which sits at the cutting edge of military and international law, and considers the ethics relevant to the use of force. RUMLAE engages with international defence forces, commercial operators and academia to explore relevant interests in great detail. RUMLAE is also a driving force in the area of law applicable to outer space and commercial operational law.