ICRAC Statement at Informal Consultations of the August 2019 CCW GGE on LAWS

Posted on 20 August 2019 by Peter Asaro

Statement delivered by ICRAC Vice-chair Peter Asaro to the CCW GGE Informal Session on the Chair’s Non-Paper, August 19, 2019.

“The International Committee for Robot Arms Control, which is a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, would like to thank the Chair for this Draft, and make the following comments and requests.

First and most importantly, we would urge the Chair to set a higher bar for the goals of this GGE and the discussions of the next two years.  In particular, we would like to see the set goal to be a legally binding instrument, and not merely a “Normative Framework” of an unknown or unstated legal status. This GGE can and should begin discussing what a legally binding instrument that could effectively regulate autonomy in weapons systems might look like. Normativity could also imply ethical and moral norms, and we would welcome a broader discussion of the ethical and moral issues raised by autonomous weapons, particularly with respect to human dignity.

Further, we would like to remind the Chair that the “Guiding Principles” were developed to guide discussions of this body over the past few years, and were never meant to be a goal or outcome of those discussions.  We would like to see a more substantive outcome of the current GGE.

Finally, we are concerned that the current draft does not mention “human control” much less “meaningful human control” or its other variants. This is despite the fact that many States, as well as civil society, have repeatedly expressed the view that human control is central to both understanding and regulating autonomy in weapons systems.  Towards this end, ICRAC has produced a new white paper entitled “What makes human control over weapons “Meaningful”?  You will find copies of this new report in the back of the room tomorrow. In it you will find a rigorous analysis of the requirements for human control in weapons, which could provide useful concepts for the elements of a treaty, including the positive obligation on states to ensure that weapons have the necessary elements of control to ensure accountable and responsible use of weapons under international law. And we hope the Chair will stand by his recent tweet, and allow this document to inform discussions of the Legal, Technical and Military work streams, as well as a much needed ethical discussion that cuts across all three.

We hope that tomorrow’s formal discussions are productive, and will continue to urge this body to work on the substantive concepts necessary to build a legally binding instrument.”

Peter Asaro
Dr. Peter Asaro is a philosopher of science, technology and media. His work examines the interfaces between social relations, human minds and bodies, artificial intelligence and robotics, and digital media. His current research focuses on the social, cultural, political, legal and ethical dimensions of military robotics and UAV drones, from a perspective that combines media theory with science and technology studies. He has written widely-cited papers on lethal robotics from the perspective of just war theory and human rights. Dr. Asaro's research also examines agency and autonomy, liability and punishment, and privacy and surveillance as it applies to consumer robots, industrial automation, smart buildings, and autonomous vehicles. His research has been published in international peer reviewed journals and edited volumes, and he is currently writing a book that interrogates the intersections between military robotics, interface design practices, and social and ethical issues. Dr. Asaro has held research positions at the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University, the HUMlab of Umeå University in Sweden, and the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. He has also developed technologies in the areas of virtual reality, data visualization and sonification, human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robot vision, and neuromorphic robotics at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA), the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and Iguana Robotics, Inc., and was involved in the design of the natural language interface for the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine (winner of the 2010 SXSW Web Interactive Award for Technical Achievement), for Wolfram Research. He is currently working on an Oral History of Robotics project that is funded by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities. Dr. Asaro received his PhD in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he also earned a Master of Arts from the Department of Philosophy, and a Master of Computer Science from the Department of Computer Science.

Categorized | ICRAC News, News

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