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34C3 - Regulating Autonomous Weapons

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    34c3 intro
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    Herald: ... used Anja Dahlmann, a
    political scientist and researcher at
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    Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, a
    berlin-based think-tank. Here we go.
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    applause
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    Anja Dahlmann: Yeah, Thanks for being
    here. I probably neither cut myself nor
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    proposed but I hope it's still
    interesting. I'm going to talk about
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    preventive arms control and international
    humanitarian law and doing in this
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    international debate around autonomous
    weapons. This type of weapon is also
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    referred to as Lethal Autonomous Weapons
    System, short LAWS, or also killer robots.
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    So if I say LAWS, I mostly mean these
    weapons and not like legal laws, just to
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    confuse you a bit. Okay. I will discuss
    this topic along three questions. First of
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    all, what are we actually talking about
    here, what are autonomous weapons? Second,
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    why should we even care about this? Why's
    it important? And third, how could this
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    issue be addressed on international level?
    So. I'll go through my slides, anyway,
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    what are we talking about here? Well,
    during the international negotiations, so
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    far no real, no common definition has been
    found. So States, Parties try to find
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    something or not and for my presentation I
    will just use a very broad definition of
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    autonomous weapons, which is: Weapons that
    can once activated execute a broad range
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    of tasks or selecting to engage targets
    without further human intervention. And
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    it's just a very broad spectrum of weapons
    that might fall under this definition.
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    Actually, some existing ones are there as
    well which you can't see here. That would
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    be the Phalanx system for example. It's
    been around since the 1970s. Sorry...
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    Herald: Man kann nichts hören
    auf der Bühne. Mach mal weiter.
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    Dahlmann: Sorry. So, Phalanx system has
    been around since the 1970s, a US system,
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    air defense system, based on ships and
    it's been to - just yeah, defend the ship
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    against incoming objects from the air. So
    that's around, has been around for quite a
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    long time and it might be even part of
    this LAWS definition or not but just to
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    give you an impression how broad this
    range is: Today, we've got for example
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    demonstrators like the Taranis drone, a UK
    system, or the x74b which can, for
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    example, autonomously land
    applause
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    land on aircraft carriers and can be air-
    refueled and stuff like that which is
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    apparently quite impressive if you don't
    need a human to do that and in the future
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    there might be even, or there probably
    will be even more, autonomous functions,
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    so navigation, landing, refueling, all
    that stuff. That's, you know, old but at
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    some point there might, be weapons might
    be able to choose their own ammunition
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    according to the situation. They might be
    able to choose their target and decide
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    when to engage with the target without any
    human intervention at some point. And
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    that's quite problematic, I will tell you
    why that's in a minute. Overall, you can
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    see that there's a gradual decline of
    human control over weapons systems or over
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    weapons and the use of force. So that's a
    very short and broad impression of what
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    we're talking about here. And talking
    about definitions, it's always interesting
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    what you're not talking about and that's
    why I want to address some misconceptions
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    in the public debate. First of all, when
    we talk about machine autonomy, also
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    artificial intelligence, with intelligence
    which is the technology behind this,
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    people - not you probably - in the media
    and the broader public often get the idea
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    that these machines might have some kind
    of real intelligence or intention or an
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    entity on own right and they're just not.
    It's just statistical methods, it's just
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    math and you know way more about this than
    I do so I will leave it with this and just
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    say that or highlight that they have these
    machines, these weapons have certain
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    competences for specific tasks. They are
    not entities on their own right, they are
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    not intentional.And that's important when
    we talk about ethical and legal challenges
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    afterwards. Sorry. There it is. And the
    other, in connection with this, there's
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    another one, which is the plethora of
    Terminator references in the media as soon
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    as you talk about autonomous weapons,
    mostly referred to as killer robots in
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    this context. And just in case you tend to
    write an article about this: don't use a
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    Terminator picture, please. Don't, because
    it's really unhelpful to understand where
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    the problems are. With this kind of thing,
    people assume that we have problems is
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    when we have machines with a human-like
    intelligence which look like the
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    Terminator or something like this. And the
    problem is that really way before that
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    they start when you use assisting systems
    when you have men or human-machine teaming
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    or when you accumulate a couple of
    autonomous functions through the targeting
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    cycle. So through this, the military steps
    are lead to the use of force or lead to
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    the killing of people. And that's not,
    this is really not our problem at the
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    moment. So please keep this in mind
    because it's not just semantics, semantics
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    to differentiate between these two things.
    It's really manages the expectations of
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    political and military decision-makers.
    Ok, so now you've got kind of an
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    impression what I'm talking about here so
    why should we actually talk about this?
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    What's all the fuss about? Actually,
    autonomous weapons have or would have
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    quite a few military advantages: They
    might be, in some cases, faster or even
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    more precise than humans. And you don't
    need a constant communication link. So you
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    don't have, you don't have to worry about
    instable communication links, you don't
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    have to worry about latency or detection
    or a vulnerability of this specific link.
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    So yay! And a lot of, let's say very
    interesting, military options come from
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    that. People talk about stealthy
    operations and shallow waters for example.
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    Or you know remote missions and secluded
    areas, things like that. And you can get
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    very creative with tiniest robots and
    swarms for example. So shiny new options.
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    But, and of course there's a "but", it
    comes at a prize because you have at least
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    three dimensions of challenges in this
    regard. First of all, the legal ones. When
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    we talk about these weapons, they might
    be, they will be applied in conflict where
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    international humanitarian law IHL
    applies. And IHL consists of quite a few
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    very abstract principles. For example:
    principle of distinction between
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    combatants and civilians, principle of
    proportionality or a military necessity.
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    They are very abstract and I'm pretty sure
    they really always need a human judgment
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    to interpret this, these principles, and
    apply them to dynamic situations. Feel
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    free to correct me if I'm wrong later. So
    that's one thing. So if you remove the
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    human from the targeting cycle, this human
    judgment might be missing and therefore
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    military decision makers have to evaluate
    very carefully the quality of human
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    control and human judgement within the
    targeting cycle. So that's law. Second
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    dimension of challenges are security
    issues. When you look at these new systems
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    they are cool and shiny and as most new
    types of weapons they are, they have the
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    potential to stir an arms race between
    between states. So they actually might
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    make conflicts more likely just because
    they are there and states want to have
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    them and feel threatened by them. Second
    aspect is proliferation. Autonomy is based
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    on software, so software can be easily
    transferred it's really hard to control
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    and all the other components, or most of
    the other components you will need, are
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    available on the civilian market so you
    can build this stuff on your own if you're
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    smart enough. So we have might have more
    conflicts from these types of weapons and
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    it's might get, well, more difficult to
    control the application of this
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    technology. And the third one which is it
    especially worrying for me is the as
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    potential for escalation within the
    conflict, especially when you have, when
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    both or more sites use these autonomous
    weapons, you have these very complex
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    adversary systems and it will become very
    hard to predict how they are going to
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    interact. They will increase the speed of
    the of the conflict and the human might
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    not even have a chance to process
    what's going on there.
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    So that's really worrying and we can see
    for example in high-frequency trading at
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    the stock markets where problems arise
    there and how are difficult is for humans
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    to understand what's going on there. So
    that, that are of some of these security
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    issues there. And the last and maybe maybe
    most important one are ethics. As I
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    mentioned before, when you use autonomy
    and weapons or machines you have
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    artificial intelligence so you don't have
    real intention, a real entity that's
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    behind this. So the killing decision might
    at some point be based on statistical
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    methods and no one will be involved there
    and that's, well, worrying for a lot of
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    reasons but also it could constitute a
    violation of human dignity. You can argue
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    that humans have, well, you can kill
    humans in in war but they at least have
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    the right to be killed by another human or
    at least by the decision of another human,
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    but we can discuss this later.
    So at least on this regard it would be
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    highly unethical and that really just
    scratches the surface of problems and
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    challenges that would arise from the use
    of these autonomous weapons. I haven't
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    even touched on the problems with training
    data, with accountability, with
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    verification and all that funny stuff
    because I only have 20 minutes. So, sounds
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    pretty bad, doesn't it? So how can this
    issue be addressed? Luckily, states have,
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    thanks to a huge campaign of NGOs, noticed
    that there might be some problems and
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    there might be a necessity to address
    that, this issue. They're currently doing
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    this in the UN Convention on certain
    conventional weapons, CCW, where they
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    discuss a potential ban of the development
    and use of these lethal weapons or weapons
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    that lack meaningful human control over
    the use of force. There are several ideas
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    around there. And such a ban would be
    really the maximum goal of the NGOs there
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    but it becomes increasingly unlikely that
    this happens. Most states do not agree
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    with a complete ban, they want to regulate
    it a bit here, a bit there, and they
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    really can't find a common common
    definition as I mentioned before because
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    if you have a broad definition as just as
    I used it you will notice that you have
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    existing systems in there that might be
    not that problematic or that you just
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    don't want to ben and you might stop
    civilian or commercial developments which
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    you also don't want to do. So states are
    stuck on this regard and they also really
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    challenge the notion that we need a
    preventive arms control here, so that we
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    need to act before these systems are
    applied on the battlefield. So at the
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    moment, this is the fourth year or
    something of these negotiations and we
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    will see how it goes this year and if
    states can't find a common ground there it
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    becomes increasingly like or yeah becomes
    likely that it will change to another
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    forum just like with anti-personnel mines
    for example which where the the treaty was
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    found outside of the United Nations. But
    yeah, the window of opportunity really
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    closes and states and NGOs have to act
    there and yeah keep on track there. Just
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    as a side note, probably quite a few
    people are members of NGOs so if you look
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    at the campaign to stop killer robots with
    a big campaign behind this, this process,
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    there's only one German NGO which is
    facing finance, so if you're especially if
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    you're German NGO and are interest that in
    AI it might be worthwhile to look into the
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    military dimension as well. We really need
    some expertise on that regard, especially
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    on AI and these technologies. They're...
    Okay, so just in case you fell asleep in
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    the last 15 minutes I want you to take
    away three key messages: Please be aware
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    of the trends and internal logic that lead
    to autonomy in weapons. Do not
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    overestimate the abilities of autonomy, of
    autonomous machines like intent and these
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    things and because you probably all knew
    this already, please tell people about
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    this, tell other people about this,
    educate them about this type of
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    technology. And third, don't underestimate
    the potential dangers for security and
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    human dignity that comes from this type of
    weapon. I hope that I could interest you a
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    bit more in this in this particular issue
    if you want to learn more you can find
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    really interesting sources on the website
    of the CCW at the campaign to stuff killer
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    robots and from a research project that I
    happen to work in, the International Panel
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    on the Regulation of Autonomous Weapons,
    we do have a few studies on that regard
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    and we're going to publish a few more. So
    please, check this out and thank you for
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    your attention.
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    Applause
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    Questions?
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    Herald: Sorry. So we have some time for
    questions answers now. Okay, first of all
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    I have to apologize that we had a hiccup
    with the signing language, the acoustics
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    over here on the stage was so bad that she
    didn't could do her job so I'm
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    terrible sorry about that. We fixed it in
    the talk and my apologies for that. We are
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    queuing here on the microphones already so
    we start with microphone number one, your
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    question please.
    Mic 1: Thanks for your talk Anja. Don't
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    you think there is a possibility to reduce
    war crimes as well by taking away the
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    decision from humans and by having
    algorithms who decide which are actually
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    auditable?
    Dahlmann: Yeah that's, actually, that's
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    something I just discussed in the
    international debate as well, that there
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    might, that machines might be more ethical
    than humans could be. And well, of course
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    they won't just start raping women because
    they want to but you can program them to
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    do this. So you just you shift the
    problems really. And also maybe these
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    machines don't get angry but they don't
    show compassion either so if you are there
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    and your potential target they just won't
    stop they will just kill you and do not
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    think once think about this. So you have
    to really look at both sides there I guess.
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    Herald: Thanks. So we switch over
    to microphone 3, please.
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    Mic 3: Thanks for the talk. Regarding
    autonomous cars, self-driving cars,
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    there's a similar discussion going on
    regarding the ethics. How should a car
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    react in a case of an accident? Should it
    protect people outside people, inside,
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    what are the laws? So there is another
    discussion there. Do you work with people
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    in this area or is this is there any
    collaboration?
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    Dahlmann: Maybe there's less collaboration
    than one might think there is. I think
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    there is. Of course, we we monitor this
    debate as well and yeah we think about the
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    possible applications of the outcomes for
    example from this German ethical
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    commission on self-driving cars for our
    work. But I'm a bit torn there because
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    when you talk about weapons, they are
    designed to kill people and cars mostly
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    are not. So with this ethical committee
    you want to avoid killing people or decide
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    what happens when this accident occurs. So
    they are a bit different but of course
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    yeah you can learn a lot from both
    discussions and we aware of that.
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    Herald: Thanks. Then we're gonna go over
    in the back, microphone number 2, please.
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    Mic 2: Also from me thanks again for this
    talk and infusing all this professionalism
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    into the debate because some of the
    surroundings of our, so to say ours
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    scenery, they like to protest against very
    specific things like for example the
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    Rammstein air base and in my view that's a
    bit misguided if you just go out and
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    protest in a populistic way without
    involving these points of expertise that
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    you offer. And so, thanks again for that.
    And then my question: How would you
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    propose that protests progress and develop
    themselves to a higher level to be on the
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    one hand more effective and on the other
    hand more considerate of what is at stake
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    on all the levels and on
    all sides involved?
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    Dahlmann: Yeah well, first, the Rammstein
    issue is completely, actually a completely
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    different topic. It's drone warfare,
    remotely piloted drones, so there are a
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    lot of a lot of problems with this and
    we're starting killings but it's not about
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    lethal autonomous weapons in particular.
    Well if you want to be a part of this
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    international debate, there's of course
    this campaign to stop killer robots and
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    they have a lot of really good people and
    a lot of resources, sources, literature
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    and things like that to really educate
    yourself what's going on there, so that
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    would be a starting point. And then yeah
    just keep talking to scientists about
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    this and find out where we see the
    problems and I mean it's always helpful
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    for scientists to to talk to people in the
    field, so to say. So yeah, keep talking.
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    Herald: Thanks for that. And the
    signal angel signaled that we have
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    something from the internet.
    Signal Angel: Thank you. Question from
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    IRC: Aren't we already in a killer robot
    world? The bot net can attack a nuclear
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    power plant for example. What do you think?
    Dahlmann: I really didn't understand a
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    word, I'm sorry.
    Herald: I didn't understand that as well,
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    so can you speak closer to
    the microphone, please?
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    Signal Angel: Yes. Aren't we already in a
    killer robot world?
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    Herald: Sorry, that doesn't work. Sorry.
    Sorry, we stop that here, we can't hear it
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    over here. Sorry.
    Signal Angel: Okay.
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    Herald: We're gonna switch over to
    microphone two now, please.
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    Mic 2: I have one little question. So in
    your talk, you were focusing on the
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    ethical questions related to lethal
    weapons. Are you aware of ongoing
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    discussions regarding the ethical aspects
    of the design and implementation of less
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    than lethal autonomous weapons for crowd
    control and similar purposes?
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    Dahlmann: Yeah actually within the CCW,
    every term of this Lethal Autonomous
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    Weapon Systems is disputed also the
    "lethal" aspect and for the regulation
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    that might be easier to focus on this for
    now because less than lethal weapons come
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    with their own problems and the question
    if they are ethical and if they can, if
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    IHL applies to them but I'm not really
    deep into this discussion. So I'll just
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    have to leave it there.
    Herald: Thanks and back here to microphone
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    one, please.
    Mic 1: Hi. Thank you for the talk very
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    much. My question is in the context of the
    decreasing cost of both, the hardware and
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    software, over the next say 20, 40 years.
    Outside of a nation-state context like
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    private forces or non nation-state actors
    gaining use of these weapons, do things
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    like the UN convention or the campaign to
    stop killer robots apply are they
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    considering private individuals trying to
    leverage these against others?
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    Dahlmann: Not sure what the campaign says
    about this, I'm not a member there. The
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    the CCW mostly focuses on international
    humanitarian law which is important but I
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    think it's it's not broad enough. So
    questions like proliferation and all this
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    is connected to your question and not
    really or probably won't be part of
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    regulation there. It's discussed only on
    the edges of the of the debates and
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    negotiations there but it doesn't seem to
    be a really issue there.
  • 22:27 - 22:30
    Mic 1: Thanks.
    Herald: And over to microphone six,
  • 22:30 - 22:33
    please.
    Mic 6: Thank you. I have a question as a
  • 22:33 - 22:39
    researcher: Do you know how far the
    development has gone already? So how
  • 22:39 - 22:45
    transparent or intransparent is your look
    into what is being developed and
  • 22:45 - 22:51
    researched on the side of militaria
    working, military people working with
  • 22:51 - 22:55
    autonomous weapons and developing them?
    Dahlmann: Well, for me it's quite
  • 22:55 - 23:00
    intransparent because I only have only
    access to public publicly available
  • 23:00 - 23:05
    sources so I don't really know what what's
    going on behind closed doors in the
  • 23:05 - 23:10
    military or in the industry there. Of
    course you can you can monitor the
  • 23:10 - 23:15
    civilian applications or developments
    which can tell a lot about the the state
  • 23:15 - 23:24
    of the art and for example the DARPA
    the American Development Agency, they
  • 23:24 - 23:30
    published sometimes a call for papers,
    that's not the term, but there you can see
  • 23:30 - 23:34
    where in which areas they are interested
    in then for example they really like this
  • 23:34 - 23:41
    idea of autonomous killer bug that can
    act in swarms and monitor or even kill
  • 23:41 - 23:46
    people and things like that. So yeah we
    try to piece it, piece it together in
  • 23:46 - 23:49
    our work.
    Herald: We do have a little bit more time,
  • 23:49 - 23:51
    are you okay to answer more questions?
    Dahlmann: Sure.
  • 23:51 - 23:53
    Herald: Then we're gonna switch over to
    microphone three, please.
  • 23:53 - 24:00
    Mic 3: Yes, hello. I think we are living
    already in a world of Leathal Autonomous
  • 24:00 - 24:05
    Weapon Systems if you think about these
    millions of landmines which are operating.
  • 24:05 - 24:09
    And so the question is: Shouldn't it be
    possible to ban these weapon systems the
  • 24:09 - 24:14
    same way as land mines that are already
    banned by several countries so just
  • 24:14 - 24:19
    include them in that definition? And
    because the arguments should be very
  • 24:19 - 24:23
    similar.
    Dahlmann: Yeah it does, it does come to
  • 24:23 - 24:27
    mind of course because these mines are
    just lying around there and no one's
  • 24:27 - 24:33
    interacting when you step on them and
    boom! But they are, well it depends, it
  • 24:33 - 24:39
    depends first of all a bit of your
    definition of autonomy. So some say
  • 24:39 - 24:43
    autonomous is when you act in dynamic
    situations and the other ones would be
  • 24:43 - 24:48
    automated and things like that and I think
    this autonomy aspect, I really don't want
  • 24:48 - 24:56
    to find, don't want to find define
    autonomy here really but this this action
  • 24:56 - 25:01
    in more dynamic spaces and the aspect of
    machine learning and all these things,
  • 25:01 - 25:06
    they are way more complex and they bring
    different problems than just land mines.
  • 25:06 - 25:11
    Landmines are problematic, anti-personnel
    mines are banned for good reasons but they
  • 25:11 - 25:15
    don't have the same problems I think. So
    it won't be, I don't think it won't be
  • 25:15 - 25:22
    sufficient to just put the LAWS in there,
    the Lethal Autonomous Weapons.
  • 25:22 - 25:26
    Herald: Thank you very much. I can't see
    anyone else queuing up so therefore, Anja,
  • 25:26 - 25:29
    thank you very much it's your applause!
  • 25:29 - 25:32
    applause
  • 25:32 - 25:35
    and once again my apologies that
    that didn't work
  • 25:35 - 25:40
    34c3 outro
  • 25:40 - 25:57
    subtitles created by c3subtitles.de
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Title:
34C3 - Regulating Autonomous Weapons
Description:

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Video Language:
English
Duration:
25:56

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