chapter  9
13 Pages

Drones, Automated Targeting, and Moral Responsibility

ByAlex Leveringhaus

This chapter outlines three sets of background considerations: moral perception, moral choice, and automated targeting. It discusses drones use for so-called targeted killings during counterterrorism operations. The chapter analyses what extent automation impacts on practices of blaming military personnel for transgressions of the laws of war. To make sense of moral responsibility in war, the Nuremberg trials serve as a useful historical guide. Sound legal and ethics training, however rudimentary it might be for some members of the military, is a key to sound moral competence. Programming a drone in order to deliberately attack civilian areas is forbidden. Of course, drone pilots and programmers know and understand the relevant rules. The case of programmers highlights what Christopher Coker calls the rise of the 'warrior geek': the whizz kid capable of programming a complex machine while being insulated from any of the havoc he wreaks. Soldiers are praised for displaying martial virtues of physical courage, sacrifice, stoicism, loyalty, patriotism, and professionalism.