Warfare Through Robotic Eyes  John P. Sullins Associate Professor Philosophy Sonoma State University California 2010 Forum...
Robotics, Philosophy and Engineering <ul><li>Robotics technology recall many issues in the philosophy of technology </li><...
Questions <ul><li>How do these systems influence the way the human agents who use them ‘see’ the battlefield? </li></ul><u...
Seeing  Warfare Through Robotic Sensors <ul><li>Robotic technology as a mode of knowledge-production </li></ul><ul><ul><li...
Through a Scanner Darkly <ul><li>The machine is an epistemic filter  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combat situation  </li></ul></u...
Robot Telepistemology <ul><li>Changes how we make life and death decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Changes our relationship to a...
Telepistemological Noise <ul><li>Occurs when information is influenced by transmission and retrieval process </li></ul><ul...
Seeing the Foe at a Distance  <ul><li>The sensors on the machine (and the systems back where the pilot is controlling the ...
The Air of Precision  <ul><li>How much  precision is obtained by these systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The machines send bac...
The Air of Invulnerability <ul><li>Armed robots provide a layer of perceived invulnerability  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contri...
Being Seen as Semiautonomous Weapons Systems  <ul><li>There is a second epistemic direction </li></ul><ul><li>These machin...
The View from the Ground  <ul><li>Victims  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cowardly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Believe  civilian cas...
A Machine Powered by Carnage  <ul><li>A strange tale </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The energetically autonomous tactical robot (EA...
The Robotic Omnivore's Dilemma  <ul><li>Releasing large omnivorous machines powered by biomass into an ecosystem is likely...
Values and Robotics  <ul><li>Warfare has been a major factor in the emergence of functional robotics </li></ul><ul><ul><li...
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Warfare through Robotic Eyes

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  • here I would like to focus on the epistemological concerns that are raised through the engineering choices made in the construction of these systems.
  • What I want to focus on here concerns technology as a mode of knowledge-production from both the angle of the warfighters using the technology and the point of view of the victims and bystanders.
  • the machine becomes the filter through which information about the combat situation is delivered to the operators and their commanders, who may be many miles away from the front lines.
  • I hope to add weight to the idea that there is a new and more interesting wrinkle provided by robot telepistemology, one that is already changing the way we make life and death decisions on the battlefield.
  • There are two locations for potential telepistemological noise in the robotic weapons systems we design. One is found in the technological medium the data is transmitted through and the other is the found in the operator’s training and preconceived notions about the data as it is presented by the system.
  • the sensors on the machine (and the systems back where the pilot is controlling the machine) process the information and then present it to the operator thus mediating the operator’s beliefs about the world
  • While we may think that these machines see the world with precision, the truth is that there are certain difficulties. The machines send back a great deal of data, but that data takes time to understand and synthesize, and time is a luxury on the battlefield. This necessitates making decisions that may be rushed and based on an incomplete understanding of the situation at hand (Singer, 2009).
  • In addition, these machines also impose a layer of perceived invulnerability that can contribute to the second type of epistemic noise as described above. The enemy may be on the ground and in the cross hairs of the machine, but its operator is somewhat untouchable. This could give the operator a sense that the action is antiseptic and sterile.
  • Today telerobotic weapons systems that are being deployed by the advanced militaries and this is shaping the beliefs and opinions others have about the nations that are using them.
  • Already, the victims of the many telerobotic attacks that have occurred over the past few years have expressed their belief that these weapons are cowardly and that the weapons are also inflict devastating civilian casualties (Singer 2009). Whether or not these perceptions are true, they are the image that telerobotic weapons cultivate.
  • A very odd example of how we might be sending unintended messages with these machines can be found in the strange tale of The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR)™ (patent pending) project, which is being pursed by the US company Robotic Technology Incorporated (RTI).
  • what it means for robotics to gain momentum both figuratively and, in the case of the EATR, literally from the carnage of war.
  • Warfare through Robotic Eyes

    1. 1. Warfare Through Robotic Eyes John P. Sullins Associate Professor Philosophy Sonoma State University California 2010 Forum on Philosophy, Engineering & Technology (fPET-2010) XJ9: Robot Eye by ~ MentalFloss
    2. 2. Robotics, Philosophy and Engineering <ul><li>Robotics technology recall many issues in the philosophy of technology </li></ul><ul><li>Here we will focus on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engineering design choices that raise certain epistemological concerns </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Questions <ul><li>How do these systems influence the way the human agents who use them ‘see’ the battlefield? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>And conversely, how are these machines seen by the human agents who may be targets or witnesses of the military actions propagated by these technologies? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How do these systems change the way armed conflict is seen and understood by politicians and non-combatants? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Seeing Warfare Through Robotic Sensors <ul><li>Robotic technology as a mode of knowledge-production </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From the angle of the warfighters using the technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And from the point of view of the victims and bystanders </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Through a Scanner Darkly <ul><li>The machine is an epistemic filter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combat situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Telepresence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friend or foe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legitimate target status </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intentions of human agents in target area </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These distinctions are always problems for warfighters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But robots add a new layer of epistemic difficulty </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Robot Telepistemology <ul><li>Changes how we make life and death decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Changes our relationship to armed conflict </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes it easier to contemplate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And tolerate </li></ul></ul>the Ripsaw MS1 with “the ability to conduct mission(s) in urban areas that were previously too dangerous or hazardous.” Source
    7. 7. Telepistemological Noise <ul><li>Occurs when information is influenced by transmission and retrieval process </li></ul><ul><li>Two main locations </li></ul><ul><li>Noise in the technological medium the data is transmitted through </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Noise’ in the perception of the data due to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Operator’s training </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>And preconceived notions about the data as it is presented by the system </li></ul></ul></ul>defense-update.com/products/p/pacbot.htm
    8. 8. Seeing the Foe at a Distance <ul><li>The sensors on the machine (and the systems back where the pilot is controlling the machine) process the information and then present it to the operator thus mediating the operator’s beliefs about the world </li></ul>
    9. 9. The Air of Precision <ul><li>How much precision is obtained by these systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The machines send back a great deal of data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But that data takes time to understand and synthesize, and time is a luxury on the battlefield </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This necessitates making decisions that may be rushed and based on an incomplete understanding of the situation at hand (as reported in singer, 2009) </li></ul></ul></ul>Source
    10. 10. The Air of Invulnerability <ul><li>Armed robots provide a layer of perceived invulnerability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contributes to epistemic noise within the operators of the machine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Because the operator is somewhat untouchable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This could give the operator a sense that the action is antiseptic and sterile </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Being Seen as Semiautonomous Weapons Systems <ul><li>There is a second epistemic direction </li></ul><ul><li>These machines are our persona to the world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are becoming the image we project to our enemies and others who witness our engagements </li></ul></ul>Source Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images
    12. 12. The View from the Ground <ul><li>Victims </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cowardly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Believe civilian casualties are high (Singer 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Allies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public anger over civilian casualties </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Amnesty International </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Anything that dehumanizes the process makes it easier to pull the trigger.” (NY Times, Dec 3, 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Soldiers on the ground </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feel like they have more in common with their enemies than they do with the drone pilots (Singer 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>American Military Command </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Warheads on foreheads” (NY Times, Dec 3, 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>American Politicians </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wide bipartisan support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>High priority of both Bush and Obama Administration to expand military and CIA use (NY Times, Dec 3, 2009) </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. A Machine Powered by Carnage <ul><li>A strange tale </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The energetically autonomous tactical robot (EATR)™ (patent pending) project, which is being pursed by the US company robotic technology incorporated (RTI) </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. The Robotic Omnivore's Dilemma <ul><li>Releasing large omnivorous machines powered by biomass into an ecosystem is likely to cause environmental havoc </li></ul><ul><li>Choosing items to ingest is not a value neutral undertaking and the robot will have to have a robust ability to judge the value of what it ingests </li></ul><ul><li>It is uncertain whether or not it is a good idea to add an artificial species to the top of the food chain </li></ul>Robotic Technology Inc.'s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot -- that's right, &quot;EATR&quot; -- &quot;can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable,&quot; reads the company's Web site .
    15. 15. Values and Robotics <ul><li>Warfare has been a major factor in the emergence of functional robotics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This means design decisions focus on combat telepistemology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We are focusing on robot as guardian and worker, when will we focus on the robot as friend and philosopher? </li></ul><ul><li>Predator videos </li></ul>

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