The ethical principles that govern kinetic military operations—those enshrined in Just War Theory—are often difficult to apply to cyber warfare. The traditional distinction between “combatants” and “non-combatants”, and between state and non-state actors, tends to be opaque in cyberspace. Moreover, cyber operations raise ethical dilemmas beyond those that are raised by conventional armed conflict. For instance, those involved in so-called information warfare campaigns are often required to behave in deeply manipulative ways, beyond what is typically expected of ordinary soldiers.
The development and deployment of autonomous weapons also give rise to ethical challenges. Does the use of these technologies involve delegating life and death decisions to machines? If so, is that ethically appropriate? And does it threaten to create a “responsibility gap” where nobody can be held morally accountable for the unforeseen harms that these technologies might cause? We tackle these questions and many more across disciplines in our research team.