Military & Technology: In Their Own Words

“We allow technology to increase moral distance; thus, technology increases the killing.”

IRW’s Remote Warfare & Technology project aims to challenge the prevailing sentiment that newer, more precise, more lethal technologies will eventually lead to ‘perfect’ war. In an insightful and sobering article for MIT Technology Review former US Marine Anthony Swofford clearly lays out why.

As Swofford points out, developing ever more advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence/automated decision making (AI/ADM) systems, is an attempt to distance ourselves from the consequences of waging war. Driven by the assumption that all human behaviour can be quantified and categorised, AI/ADM systems used in conflict for targeting falsely promise a reduction in the lethality of war by perfectly filtering potential targets between combatants and civilians. In turn, the question of morality in war becomes a technological issue, discussed only through the narrow lens of data, accuracy and reliability. ‘The conversation is not about the morality of going to war, but rather the technology of winning.’

Swofford’s voice as a former Marine is encouraging to hear, especially in light of recent pushes by numerous Defence Ministries in Europe to prevent active duty personel from speaking publicly. Just last week the Dutch media reported that miltary employees would no longer be permitted to publish articles, speak to the media or politicians, or to take part in internal political party debates without prior approval. Silencing the expert opinion of military personel who have a right, as key stakeholders in debates of where we choose as societies to put them in harms way, to express themsevles, is a morally and strategically harmful mistake.

Read the full article on MIT Technology Review at the link below:

Post written by Jack Davies