Defining the ethics and law of autonomous systems

| 01 Mar 2019

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UNSW Canberra and The University of Queensland (UQ) have partnered with the very first Defence Cooperative Research Centre (DCRC) for Trusted Autonomous Systems to launch a $9 million+ programme on autonomous military robots and their code.

The successful joint programme focusing research on embedding the ethics and law of trusted autonomous systems is the first activity of its kind approved by the DCRC and represents the biggest investment in the ethics and law of autonomous system anywhere in the world.

Project Leader for UNSW Canberra, Dr Jai Galliot said that the programme is addressing a priority area for the DCRC and will bring together leading international academics and policy makers to spearhead this important research.

“Ensuring there is trusted and effective cooperation between humans, machines and their algorithms is almost impossible without first understanding the ethical and legal values of the humans that will use these systems,” he said.

Project co-investigator UQ Law School’s Associate Professor Rain Liivoja said the Australian Defence Force operated in a complex regulatory environment.

“The use of novel autonomous systems complicates matters further,” he said.

“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."

The funding for the programme was awarded as part of the Next Generation Technologies Fund. With an investment of $730 million over the decade to June 2026, the Next Generation Technologies Fund is a forward-looking program focussing on research and development in emerging and future technologies for the “future Defence force after next”.

Trusted Autonomous Systems is Australia’s first Defence Cooperative Research Centre, and is uniquely equipped to deliver world-leading autonomous and robotic technologies to enable trusted and effective cooperation between humans and machines.