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The Machine at War

On Killer Robots and the Rules of War

Brian Bloomfield, Lancaster University, UK
Theodore Vurdubakis, Lancaster University, UK

The paper offers a critical discussion of a research programme funded by the U.S. Army Research Office which focuses on the development of an “ethical governor” that will enable future autonomous robotic systems to use lethal force while adhering to the rules of war more closely than human combatants. The paper discusses the “ethical warrior robot” as an instance of how ostensibly “technical” matters serve as the means for articulating and rhetorically rehearsing the various philosophical antinomies and moral conflicts characteristic of Occidental (post?)modernity.