Tuesday Linkage

Oct 22, 2013

duckbot2Killer Robots: Wired reports on developments in autonomous weaponry, quoting military personnel who say the idea is to think of them “not as tools but as members of the squad.” Video gamers collaboratively solved a decade-old puzzle about the complex structure of an enzyme relevant to HIV-AIDS research, suggesting human spatial reasoning is superior to algorithms: a point not at all lost on those who think putting complex situational life and death judgments into machine hands is a bad idea. 270 engineers, roboticists a computer science experts have signed a statement demanding a ban. Kenneth Anderson argues against. The United Nations Disarmament Committee meets this week and at the behest of campaigners, France has called for autonomous weapons to be on the agenda. Civil society groups released a new call for international talks, and held a side event at the meeting Monday afternoon, aiming to increase interest in the issue and support for a ban.

War Law:

Civilian protection campaigner Sarah Holewinski is honored in a write-up at Ozy.com.
Former child soldier Omar Khadr, whose confession was extracted under torture, will remain in a Canadian federal prison. My students are watching this film about Khadr this week.

Human Rights and Society:

Elite British students have been asked to justify murdering civilians on a scholarship essay question.
UNIFEM has a new and fairly disturbing ad campaign using Google search results to highlight sexism.
Mark Bittman on the politics of hunger.

And Don’t Panic But: 

Astronomers have discovered a massive asteroid that could hit the Earth in 30 years.

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.