Ethics and Law to be Incorporated into Autonomous Defense Systems in Australia

Scientists are introducing a $9 million study which aims to insert ethics and the law into autonomous defense systems, such as self-driving military vehicles.

(Image credit: The University of Queensland)

The University of Queensland (UQ) and University New South Wales Canberra (UNSW) project signifies the world’s largest investment into comprehending the social dimension of military robotics.

The five-year project is being aided by the Defense Cooperative Research Centre (DCRC) for Trusted Autonomous Systems.

Associate Professor Rain Liivoja from UQ Law School said it showed the Australian Government’s commitment to creating and adopting technologies in a responsible manner.

The Australian Defense Force operates in a complex regulatory environment, and the use of new autonomous systems complicates matters further. Our research aims to clarify the legal and ethical constraints placed on these systems, as well as the ways in which autonomy can enhance compliance with the law and with social values. In certain high-risk circumstances, autonomous systems may be more reliable than human decision-makers, thus saving lives.

Rain Liivoja, Study Co-Leader, Associate Professor, Law School, UQ.

Dr Liivoja is co-leading the project along with Dr Jai Galliot from UNSW in Canberra.

Dr Galliot said the program would look into a priority area for the DCRC and would draw together renowned international academics and policymakers to spearhead this critical research.

To ensure that there is trusted and effective cooperation between humans and machines is almost impossible without first understanding the ethical and legal values of the humans that will use the machines.

Dr Jai Galliot, Study Co-Leader, UNSW.

The program’s funding was awarded as part of the Australian Government’s Next Generation Technologies Fund.

Trusted Autonomous Systems is Australia’s first DCRC, and is exclusively equipped to deliver world-leading autonomous and robotic technologies to allow reliable and effective collaboration between humans and machines.

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