Commentary October 9, 2020

Probabilities towards death: bugsplat, algorithmic assassinations, and ethical due care

Examining Big Data, machine learning, and the life and death implications of the entanglements of human-algorithmic decision-making with respect to war and conflict, John R. Emery argues that there are fundamental flaws in assuming that technological innovation can solve ethical dilemmas of killing in war.
Man with glasses

This article explores the principle of due care in war and the myth that improved battlefield technology makes Western warfare inherently more ethical. The discursive construction – which I term virtuous chaoplexic militarism – of the US as ethical by virtue of its utilization of technologically advanced modes of killing, seeks to dissolve the ethico-political dilemmas of war into quantifiable problems to-be-solved. This article illustrates this dissolution by outlining the transformation within US military decision-making from an ethics of practical judgement to a computational techno-ethics. To do this, I evaluate two concrete cases of US algorithms of militarism.

Read the rest at  Critical Military Studies