According to the sponsors, “[t]hroughout history, numerous technologies originally designed for military use have found applications in the civilian sector, from radar to the Internet. In recent years, a similar transfer of technology has begun taking place across the field of robotics, and this trend shows every sign of accelerating. While once present only on the front lines, autonomous systems now patrol our borders, capture footage of our weddings, and may soon be driving us to work and delivering packages to our homes. Although these developments have great potential, however, the proliferation in civilian life of technologies originally designed to inflict maximum damage on a battlefield adversary raises significant ethical and policy questions – especially when they involve decisions that are made, at least in part, without human input. As evidenced by the recent use of a robot to kill a domestic terrorism suspect in Dallas, such concerns are not unwarranted. This dialogue will explore the “promise and peril” of this rapidly-evolving interaction between military and civilian robotics research, with the goal of fostering a better understanding of how to maximize the benefits associated with these new technologies while minimizing the risks.”
The Police Foundation was honored to participate in such a distinguished event and to contribute to future discussions.