Jul 1, 2015
12:30pm - 2:00pm    |    Wilf 5th Floor Conference Room, 139 MacDougal Street, New York, NY

Valid ID and RSVP required. RSVP here or email Audrey.Watne@nyu.edu. Lunch will be provided.

“May the best robot win” was the motto for the 23 teams who met in Pomona, Ca. in June 2015 for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge Finals. To earn the $3.5 million prize money, the robots were required to successfully finish tasks typically encountered in disaster scenarios like Fukushima, such opening a safety valve, climbing a ladder or even driving a car. Several thousand spectators cheered on their favorite robots from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Europe and the US.

CHRGJ’s Visiting Doctoral Researcher, Fredrik von Bothmer, interviewed participants in the 2015 challenge to gauge to what extent, if at all, they consider government sponsorship, ethics, and legal repercussions in their work. Despite the excitement of the challenge, some team members in personal interviews turned out to be rather self-critical. While pushing progress in robotics, robot makers seemingly do not forget that it is the US Department of Defense that funds DARPA’s mission of “creating breakthrough technology for national security”. Defensive systems with various levels of autonomy already exist and more offensive mobile systems are in development. DARPA’s efforts feed into this process. Meanwhile, the official agenda of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) has come to include Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS). One of the most urgent topics discussed at the UN expert meetings in Geneva was whether or not we face a new era of emerging technologies on battlefields where no one can be held responsible.

What is DARPA’s influence on the way forward in robotic technology? What is the output of the UN CCW meetings and who bears the responsibility for violations of international law resulting from the use of AWS? This talk will provide some answers to these urgent questions.

About the Speaker:

Fredrik von Bothmer is a Visiting Doctoral Researcher from the University of Saint Gallen in Switzerland. He receives a doctoral scholarship within the Graduate School “Contours of a New World Order.” At CHRGJ, he works on his doctoral thesis focusing on the legality of Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS). Prior to his doctorate, he studied law in Munich, Geneva, The Hague and Stellenbosch. Mr. von Bothmer holds a German law degree and a position as part time lecturer in European Union and Public International Law at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU). He has worked at the Institute for Public International Law at the LMU, the German Foreign Office, the Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN in Geneva and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. After his visiting stay at NYU School of Law, Mr. von Bothmer will go on to pursue an LL.M. at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

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