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Category Archives: Robotics

Look Who Else Has Drones: ISIS and Al Nusra

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Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Since the introduction of drone technology to the battlefield, countless academics, policymakers, and military planners have pondered a disturbing question: what happens when other countries or non-state actors have access to them? In Syria, we may be starting to see the effects that the dissemination of drone technology will mean for the future of war. In . . .
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Readings: Adapting the Law of Armed Conflict to Autonomous Weapon Systems

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 12:08 AM

We are pleased to share our recently published article on law and autonomous weapons, on which we teamed up with our good friend Daniel Reisner (formerly head of the Israel Defense Forces International Law Department). The article, “Adapting the Law of Armed Conflict to Autonomous Weapon Systems,” appears as 90 International Law Studies 386 (2014), . . .
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Readings: Geoffrey Corn on Autonomous Weapons

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Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

I’m pleased to note that Lawfare’s good friend Geoff Corn has entered into the public discussion of autonomous weapon systems (AWS) with a new paper posted to SSRN, “Autonomous Weapon Systems: Legal Consequences of ‘Taking the Man Out of the Loop’.”  The paper is a relatively rough working draft, but it raises a number of . . .
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What The Court Didn’t Say in Riley May be the Most Important Thing of All

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Monday, June 30, 2014 at 9:43 AM

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Riley v. California that searching a cell phone requires a warrant is groundbreaking—and is, as everyone says, a great step forward for privacy. The decision is notable for what it does say, including: The United States asserts that a search of all data stored on a cell phone is “materially indistinguishable” . . .
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Report of the Stimson Center Task Force on Drone Policy

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Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 3:27 PM

The Stimson Center released today the report of its Task Force on US Drone Policy.  The ten-member task force, of which I was a member, was chaired by General John Abizaid and Rosa Brooks.   The report makes eight recommendations for overhauling US drone strategy; improving oversight, accountability, transparency and clarifying the international legal framework applicable . . .
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Readings: The Diffusion of Drone Warfare: Industrial, Infrastructural and Organizational Constraints by Andrea Gilli and Mauro Gilli

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 7:27 PM

Political science graduate students Andrea Gilli (European Union Institute, Florence) and Mauro Gilli (Northwestern University, Evanston) have posted a new and provocative paper to SSRN–“The Diffusion of Drone Warfare: Industrial, Infrastructural and Organizational Constraints.” I read this paper when first posted to SSRN some weeks back, but I waited to discuss it in a Readings post . . .
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John Villasenor on Driverless Cars and Liability

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Monday, May 5, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Wells and I and our Brookings colleague John Villasenor have begun a paper series of civilian robotics. Some of it is a little beyond normal Lawfare fare, but some of it will be in the heartland. The first paper in the series, which we released recently, is by John and deals with driverless cars and liability rules for car . . .
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9/11 Case Motions Hearing: April 17 Session

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Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 9:01 AM

There’s a small band of us here at Fort Meade’s Smallwood Hall—the venue where we’ll take in, via slightly-delayed, Closed Circuit Television, more of a pre-trial motions session in the 9/11 military commission case. It’s been an odd little week at Guantanamo.  To recap, the defense has claimed that the FBI, while investigating the leak . . .
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WeRobot2014 Conference Underway at University of Miami

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Friday, April 4, 2014 at 11:49 AM

The annual WeRobot program has emerged as the key conference on the legal, policy, moral, and other normative questions related to robotics. It is underway at this moment at the University of Miami, hosted by the law school and organized by law professor Michael Froomkin, who is one of the leaders of the field. The . . .
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Drone Flies Into Volcano

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Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 7:16 AM

The headline says it all. Incredible footage: )

We Robot 2014 – Call for Presentation Proposals (Including on National Security Topics)

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Monday, October 21, 2013 at 10:30 AM

For reasons that won’t surprise anyone, Lawfare deals a lot with automation and robotic technologies, ranging from cyber to big data to military robotics.  So readers might be interested to learn of next year’s We Robot 2014, the third annual conference devoted to the intersection of law, society, and technologies of robotics and automation.  The . . .
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Interim Report by UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson on Drones in Counterterrorism Operations

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Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM

You can find the interim report—the final won’t be submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council until 2014, apparently—here. There’s a good bit to pore over in the paper authored by Emmerson, with whom Lawfare chatted during his May fact-finding trip to the United States.  (Just Security’s Sarah Knuckey, who Emmerson consulted in the course of his work, . . .
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Was that a Throwbot Used in the Ricin Raid?

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Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The Daily Mail ran the following picture in this article about the raid on the home of alleged Ricin-mailer Kevin Curtis: Notice the device the guy on his knees is holding. I could be wrong about this, but it looks to me like the screen console of a ReconScout robot—the robot discussed (and played with) in this . . .
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“Avian-Inspired Grasping for Quadrotor Micro UAVs”

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Monday, March 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

I, for one, welcome our eagle-claw grasping robot overlords…

Playing with Robots at Brookings: An Interview with Andrew Borene

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 4:40 PM

A few months ago, I attended a robotics conference in Edina, Minnesota, invited by a gentleman named Andrew Borene, who helped organize it. There were a lot of impressive robots at the conference. But in many ways, the one that impressed me the most was one made by the company for which Andrew works, ReconRobotics. . . .
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Robotic Dog Tosses Cinderblocks

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Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 7:54 AM

Speaking of Wired Danger Room, check this out: A robotic dog that tosses cinderblocks around with its head. Spencer Ackerman explains: Flesh-and-blood dogs merely fetch. The robotic pooch that Darpa funded can throw. Boston Dynamics’ BigDog started life as a headless four-legged robot capable of hauling soldiers’ gear along rough and uneven terrain. The BigDog’s upgrades . . .
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Issues to Put on Your Intellectual Radar Screens: Cyborg Rights

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Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:28 AM

Over at Slate, Torie Bosch has an interview with a cyborg about, well, cyborg rights. It’s very interesting, and it goes to an issue I’ve been thinking about for a while. We think of cyborgs as inherently requiring physical connectedness between human and machine. But if we’re all carrying around smart phones all the time . . .
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Greg McNeal on Human Rights Watch and “Killer Robots”

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Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 6:51 AM

Over at Forbes.com, Greg McNeal takes a break from guest blogging for Lawfare to body slam Human Rights Watch over its “killer robots” campaign. Last week, I published a grass roots letter from Human Rights, along with Tom Malinowski’s candid reflections on how its tone jives with Tom’s desire for a “serious conversation” on the subject of . . .
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Cyborg-Roach: An Idea Whose Time Has Come—and Scuttled Under the Fridge

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 6:53 AM

Just what you need in life: Your very own cybernetic cockroach. Now, thanks to the folks at an outfit called “Backyard Brains” (“Neuroscience for Everyone!”), you can have one. No, I am not making this up. It’s the Roboroach, which can be yours for only $99.99: Have you ever wanted to walk down the hall . . .
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Human Rights Watch Campaign on Killer Robots—and Tom Malinowski’s Response

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Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM

A few weeks ago, Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch had a thoughtful and serious—if sometimes playful—exchange with Matt, Ken, and me over fully autonomous weapons systems. But there seems to be another, less serious, side of Human Rights Watch’s advocacy on the subject, a grass-roots campaign that is quite extreme in its rhetoric and . . .
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