Ian Kerr and Jason Millar Earn National Defence Grant for Autonomous Weapons Research

Posted on Friday, January 27, 2017

Common Law’s Dr. Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology, and Dr. Jason Millar, a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Law, have received a $25,000 grant from the Department of National Defence (DND) for a project entitled “Developing Trust in the Automation of Military Systems” 

Specifically, the project addresses the increasing automation of weapon systems with a focus on the importance of maintaining “meaningful human control” (MHC) over those systems.  The concept of MHC helps to clarify, for example, who is responsible for the behaviour of the system, and ensure that the weapon system is able to adequately discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.   Current debate about MHC addresses the trustworthiness of an automated system, giving rise to a significant number of policy-related questions.

Dr. Kerr and Dr. Millar, both of whom belong to the Faculty’s Centre for Law Technology and Society, suggest that Canada has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on the world stage by being the first to offer a clear articulation of the appropriate policy considerations necessary for the development of trustworthy autonomous military systems. Their grant will enable a two-day intensive workshop that seeks to spur the development of such policy expertise within the military and elsewhere in the Government of Canada by way of collaboration with academic experts on the subject from Canada and abroad.

The project is being funded through DND’s Defence Engagement Program, the aim of which is to “help the Defence Team respond to the myriad of security challenges facing Canada by supporting projects on cross-cutting multi-disciplinary issues that affect not only the Department, but also its Whole-of-Government partners.”

Click here to read more about the Defence Engagement Program.

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