The bright red line of responsibility
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The Bright red Line of Responsibility. Mark R. Waser Digital Wisdom Institute [email protected] There is nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view I hold dear. Ban Killer Robots . . . . February 2013. November 2012.

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The Bright red Line of Responsibility

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The bright red line of responsibility

The Bright red Line ofResponsibility

Mark R. Waser

Digital Wisdom Institute

[email protected]


The bright red line of responsibility

There is nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view I hold dear.


Ban killer robots

Ban KillerRobots . . .

February 2013

November 2012

April 2013 – UN GA/HRC - Lethal autonomous robotics and the protection of life


Icrac the scientists call

ICRAC - The Scientists’ Call

… To Ban Autonomous Lethal Robots

As Computer Scientists, Engineers, Artificial Intelligence experts, Roboticists and professionals from related disciplines, we call for a ban on the development and deployment of weapon systems in which the decision to apply violent force is made autonomously.

Decisions about the application of violent force must not be delegated to machines.


Icrac the scientists call1

ICRAC - The Scientists’ Call

… To BanAutonomous Lethal Robots

As Computer Scientists, Engineers, Artificial Intelligence experts, Roboticists and professionals from related disciplines, we call for a ban on the development and deployment of weapon systems in which the decision to apply violent force is made autonomously.

Decisionsabout the application of violent force must not be delegated to machines.


Which problem are we addressing

Which Problem Are We Addressing?

Death by entity or death by algorithm?


Scientists call s reasoning

Scientists’ Call’s Reasoning

We are concerned

about the potential of robots

to undermine human responsibility

in decisions to use force, and

to obscure accountability

for the consequences.


Algorithms vs decisions

Algorithms vs. Decisions

  • Algorithms should be 100% predictable -- they can produce incorrect results but you *should* know exactly what they will do

  • Thus, algorithms cannot assume (or be granted) responsibility (nor “accountability”) since they will always perform as specified

  • An entity is *constantly* “deciding” whether or not to continue following the algorithm (or whether new circumstances dictate otherwise)

  • A competent entity can *choose* to be reliable (likely to fulfill goals) rather than predictable(as to exactly how they will fulfill the goals)


Algorithm entity

Algorithm  Entity?

  • Self-reflective

  • Self-modifying (algorithms, not data)

  • Has goals (and is aware of them)

  • Self-willed?

  • Conscious?

  • *WILL* evolve instrumental subgoals

    AKA ethics


Autopoiesis

Autopoiesis

from Greek

αὐτo- (auto-), meaning "self", and

ποίησις(poiesis), meaning "creation, production")

refers to a closed system capable of creating itself

self-production/self-(re)creation

*much* more wieldy/governable than “free will”


Potential scenarios

Potential Scenarios

  • Stupid Algorithm (land mine, cruise missile)

  • Really Smart Algorithm

    • Comprehensible (Harpy)

    • Black Box/Big Data (Watson)

  • Stupid Entity (including savants)

  • Really Smart Entity

    • Benevolent

    • Indifferent to Evil


Robots or algorithms

Robots or Algorithms?

  • Death by algorithm is the ultimate indignity says 2 star general

  • Ceding godlike powers to robots reduces human beings to things with no more intrinsic value than any object.

  • When robots rule warfare, utterly without empathy or compassion, humans retain less intrinsic worth than a toaster—which at least can be used for spare parts.

  • In civilized societies, even our enemies possess inherent worth and are considered persons, a recognition that forms the basis of the Geneva Conventions and rules of military engagement.


Un ga hrc report

UN GA/HRC Report

<among other reasons>

deployment may be unacceptable because . . .

robots should not have

the power of life and death

over human beings


Death by algorithm peter asaro

Death by Algorithm – Peter Asaro

While the detailed language defining autonomous weapon systems in an international treaty will necessarily be determined through a process of negotiations, the centrepiece of such a treaty should be the establishment of the principle that

human lives cannot be taken without an informed and considered human decision regarding those lives

in each and every use of force,

and any automated system that fails to meet that principle by removing the human from the decision process is therefore prohibited.

A ban on autonomous weapons systems must instead focus on

the delegation of the authority to initiate lethal force

to an automated process

not under direct human supervision & discretionary control.


Frequently cited reasons against automated algorithms tools

Frequently Cited Reasons Against Automated Algorithms/Tools

  • Technology makes it too “easy” . . .

    • to go to war

    • to suppress democracy (when stolen)

  • Cannot comply with IHL and IHRL – OR – Vulnerable to enemy action & ”spoofing”

    • Big data may have already solved this

  • No adequate system of legal responsibility

  • Humanocentrism/Selfishness

    • Right relationship to technology

  • Because it’s a good clear line . . . .


Frequently cited reasons against robots technological entities

Frequently Cited Reasons Against Robots/Technological Entities

  • Fear (Why create something that might exterminate you?)

    • “Terminator” scenario

    • Super-powerful but indifferent

  • Can/Will not comply with IHL and IHRL

    • Has no emotions; cannot be punished

  • No adequate system of legal responsibility

  • Robotsshould not have the power of life & death

    • Humanocentrism/selfishness

    • Right relationship to technology

  • Because it’s a good clear line . . . .


Which is the problem

Which Is The Problem?

  • Stupid Algorithms

  • Terrifying Entities

  • What if the algorithms were *proven* smarter than 2013 humans?

  • What if the entities were *guaranteed* to be benevolent and altruistic?

    (and fully capable of altruistic punishment)

    Do we really care about ACTORS or RESULTS?


Engineering for responsibility

Engineering for Responsibility

  • ‘Mala in se’ (evil in themselves)

    • Unpredictable/cannot be fully controlled

  • Predictability/Autonomy/Reliability/Complexity

    • Are design trade-offs

    • Can be measured and *managed*

    • Global Hawk UAV had insufficient autonomy

  • Until robots become “persons”, *all* responsibility rests with the specifications, designers, engineers, testers, approvers & users – exactly as per current product liability laws


In the near future

In the near future . . .

  • New York SWAT teams receive “smart rifles”

    • Friendly fire , successful outcomes

    • “Shoot everything & let the gun sort it out”

    • The rifle is the arbiter of who lives/dies

    • Safety feature turned executioner

  • LA SWAT teams introduce “armed telepresence”

    • Minorly modified DARPA disaster-relief robots

    • Pre-targeting, aim correction = inhuman speed/accuracy

    • In training exercises, friendly fire , good outcomes

    • ADD the “smart rifles”?


Intuition pumps

Intuition Pumps

  • SWAT

    • Lethal but very short-term

    • Lethal but slightly longer term (& more humanoid)

  • Policing

    • Non-lethal but consensus algorithms

    • Non-lethal but big-data algorithms

    • Non-lethal but self-willed

    • Non-lethal, self-willed, wire-headed

  • In evil hands

  • What about medical machines?


Uncommon wisdom

Uncommon Wisdom

  • Never delegate responsibility until recipient is known capable of fulfilling it

  • Don’t worry about killer robots exterminating humanity – we will always have equal abilities and they will have less of a “killer instinct”

  • Entities can protect themselves against errors & misuse/hijacking in a way that tools cannot

  • Diversity (differentiation) is *critically* needed

  • Humanocentrism is selfish and unethical


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