Dr Tim McFarland is a Research Fellow in the Values in Defence & Security Technology group within the School of Engineering and Information Technology of the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
He initially studied at Monash University, earning a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours) and a Bachelor of Economics, and published two conference papers on robotic control systems. He worked for several years in a variety of information technology roles before returning to university in 2009 to study law at Melbourne Law School. After completing a Juris Doctor degree in 2011, he worked in the international humanitarian law department of the Australian Red Cross until 2013. During that time he completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and was admitted as a solicitor in the state of Victoria in 2012. He also earned a Graduate Diploma of International Law from Melbourne Law School.
In 2013 he commenced full time PhD studies at Melbourne Law School, under the supervision of Professor Tim McCormack and Dr Rain Liivoja, supported by an Australian Research Council grant. His PhD research addressed the international legal implications of utilising increasingly autonomous weapon systems in armed conflict. In 2015, during his PhD candidature, he worked as a Research Fellow on a joint project between Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation and Melbourne Law School, on legal issues stemming from military use of autonomous systems. He also published several original research articles on legal questions relating to military applications of emerging technologies, and spoke on autonomous systems at a series of conferences and workshops. He completed his PhD studies in 2017 and commenced his current role in 2018.
His current work is on the social, legal and ethical questions arising from emergence of new military and security technologies, and their implications for the design and use of new military systems. He is a member of the Program on the Regulation of Emerging Military Technologies (PREMT) and the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law (APCML).