Professor Thomas Simpson, an associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy from the Blavatnic School of Government, Oxford University, in the United Kingdom today, delivered a Lecture on autonomous Weapons in an era of Geopolitical Competition and Ethical Questions around Artificial Intelligence to the National Defence University-Kenya at National Defence College in Karen, Nairobi.

Prof. Thomas in his presentation shed light on the ethical implications surrounding these technological marvels. Stirring debate and introspection, the lecture aptly explored the intricate balance between technological innovation and moral responsibility.

The lecture began with an overview of the escalating presence of autonomous systems in various fields, ranging from military applications to healthcare and transportation. Professor Thomas emphasized that while the advent of such technology offers undeniable benefits, the ethical consequences of granting machines the ability to make life-or-death decisions are significant and cannot be overlooked.

To set the stage for the discussion, the professor discerningly defined what constitutes ‘killer robots.’ Drawing upon international definitions, the lecture introduced the concept of fully autonomous weapons systems capable of independently selecting and engaging targets, with no human intervention in the critical decision-making process.

The lecture further delved into the ethical considerations engendered by the development and deployment of killer robots. He urged the audience to reflect on the balance between military advantage and the value of human life, emphasizing the core ethical principles of justice, dignity, and the right to life.

The professor emphasized the importance of clear moral accountability in situations involving autonomous systems. The lack of human decision-makers raises questions about who bears responsibility for any inadvertent harm caused by machines. Addressing this dilemma, discussions during the lecture touched upon the need for transparency and accountability in both the development and use of such technologies.

The platform also offered a question and answer (Q&A) opportunity to the audience to get more insights on the impact of autonomous weapons in an era of Geopolitical Competition and Ethical questions around AI.

In attendance were Commandant National Defence College Major Gen Rashid Elmi, General Officers, Officers, and Senior Directing Staff at the college.

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