Press release:

Cal Poly Researcher to Speak on War-Robots Panel at APPE 2009
Presentation to discuss benefits, ethics, and risk arising from military robots

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – February 23, 2009 – The Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly today announced that director Dr. Patrick Lin has been invited to give the first presentation on a war-robots panel at the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) 2009 Annual Meeting, the largest applied ethics conference worldwide.

Drawing from his recently-released report “Autonomous Military Robots: Risk, Ethics, and Design”, Dr. Lin’s presentation will discuss the benefits as well as survey a wide range of ethical and social concerns arising from the use of battlefield robots. The 100+ page preliminary report is also co-authored by Cal Poly researchers Dr. George Bekey and Keith Abney and funded by the US Department of Navy, Office of Naval Research (ONR).

“War robots aren’t susceptible to fear, adrenaline, or hatred that has led human soldiers to make poor decisions and even to commit war crimes,” explained Dr. Lin. “But at the same time, they raise questions of ethics and risk: Who is responsible if a robot were to malfunction and cause a fatality? Does the use of robots encourage more armed conflicts, given that fewer human soldiers would be put in harm’s way? Would robots erode squad cohesion, if they can monitor actions of fellow human soldiers? What is the risk of our enemies capturing or hacking into a war-robot to use against us?”

The war-robots panel will convene on March 7, during the March 5-8 conference in Cincinnati. The APPE Annual Meeting is also home to the popular Ethics Bowl competition. For more information about the conference or APPE, please visit:

Supported by ONR award # N00014-07-1-1152 and N0014-08-1-1209, the full report on military robots, risk, and ethics can be accessed here:

Based at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group is a non-partisan research and educational organization focused on the risk, ethical, and social impacts of emerging technologies. Current projects and interests are related to issues in robotics, human enhancement, nanotechnology, space development, and other areas. Please visit us at or


Patrick Lin, Ph.D., Director
palin [at]

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