Feeds

Work for the military? Don't be evil, says ethicist

Engineers should 'Just Say No' to working on drones, philosopher says

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Engineers should refuse to work on killer robots, says Australian ethicist Dr Robert Sparrow.

Sparrow's definition of a killer robot includes the Predator drone, a weapon he finds objectionable because “Military robots are making it easier for governments to start wars, thinking that they won't incur any casualties on their own side."

That means “The ethics of working on military robotics today cannot be entirely divorced from the ethics of the ends to which military robots are used,” he writes in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.

Sparrow thinks engineers “can agree that we would all be better served if robots were being researched, designed and built to confront some of the urgent social and environmental challenges facing humanity today, rather than to kill or wield political power in foreign lands.” He therefore hopes that even though there are lots of jobs to be had working on killer bots, engineers will look elsewhere for employment.

Sparrow's not suggesting techies take their stand alone, as he recognises that “Given how much robotics research is funded by the military, engineering students looking for a job or a place to undertake their doctorates may face a choice between working on a military project or not gaining entry into their desired profession at all.”

He therefore suggests the best way to stop the proliferation of killer bots “... is best addressed to the robotics community as a whole, rather than individual engineers.”

Sparrow is already part of such an effort, as a founding member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Pinterest diversity stats: Also pale and male (but not as much as Twitter)
Cats'n'flowers site latest to admit white men rule its roost
MoJ IT workers 'n' pals extend strike action over privatisation
Fears of cuts when shared services gig moves to Steria
Pleased to meet you. I'm Joe Bloggs, MVP, vExpert, Cisco Champ
What a mouthful. Do customers care? Six title-holders quizzed
The Register is HIRING technology hacks for the WORLD
Live on Earth? Want to be a Vulture? Enquire within
Microsoft's MCSE and MCSD will become HARDER to win
Redmond decides it won't replace Masters certifications, so lesser certs get more rigour
'Oh my god – Mark Zuckerberg wants to meet me'
'The Swiss have got no great interest in working with Apple'
Dammit, Foxconn: Where's our 1 MILLION-strong robot ARMY?
'Foxbots' just aren't good enough to take up the slack
Devs: Fancy a job teaching Siri to speak the Queen's English?
Spik propa lyk dis blud innit, ya get me?
Bankers bid to use offshore temp techies
WikiLeaks publishes Financial Services Annex to 50-nation Trade in Services Agreement
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.