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Conference on Autonomous Weapons Includes Speakers from PLuS Alliance Partners

18 December, 2023

Autonomous technologies (including lethal autonomous weapons, AI-based control and decision-making systems, and self-piloting/self-driving vehicles) are changing or can possibly change the composition, doctrine, and strategic posture of military forces deployed in the Indo-Pacific. Last month, experts gathered in Canberra, Australia, to discuss these intersections between international security and the rise of autonomous weapons at UNSW Canberra’s Pacific Rim Strategic Policy Conference, organized by Dr. Max Cappuccio, a Research Fellow at the UNSW Canberra’s School of Engineering and Technology and Deputy Director of the Values in Defense and Security Technology Group. The conference was particularly concerned with the diffusion of autonomous technologies among states, non-state, and inter-state actors and its implications for security and defence in the region.

Speakers from all three PLuS Alliance universities participated in the conference, including Professor Nancy Cooke and Professor Katina Michael from Arizona State University, Professor Alessio Patalano from King’s College London, and many colleagues from UNSW, including Brigadier Ian Langford, Dr. Srinjoy Bose, and Associate Professor Deane-Peter Baker.

Speakers discussed how the specificity of military cultures, innovation ecosystems, and even ethnic and religious traditions may determine different attitudes, perceptions, and expectations toward autonomous technologies, thus shaping allied forces’ capability to achieve full interoperability through technological cooperation. Comprehending cultural diversity is crucial, from a strategic policy perspective, as it impacts the degree to which technological innovation is embraced or resisted and thus determines the effectiveness of autonomous systems across strategic, operational and tactical levels.

The conference was part of the project “Cultural Attitudes in the Age of Autonomy: Australian Policy and the Ethico-Legal Deployment of Human-Machine Teams in the Indo-Pacific” (Chief Investigator Dr. Max Cappuccio), supported by the Australian Government through a grant by Defence. The views expressed at the conference and in this downloadable conference booklet are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Government or Defence.

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