Thursday: ‘The Present and Future Battlefield: Cyberwarfare, Neuroscience and Robotics’


Expert panelists on Thursday evening discussed the role of cutting-edge technologies in the future of warfare at a standing-room-only event titled “The Present and Future Battlefield: Cyberwarfare, Neuroscience and Robotics.”

The panel began with the presentation of a Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award to Jonathan Moreno, the author of the book “Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century” and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. 

The panel was moderated by Joshua Youner, a sophomore member of the EPIIC Colloquium.

Moreno discussed the most recent advances in neuroscience and technology and their positive and negative ethical consequences, both in military and civilian environments.

“Is this an acceptable moral trade-off?” Moreno asked of technologies with ambiguous moral ramifications.

Braden Allenby, the Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics and a professor of Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering and Law at Arizona State University, gave a presentation focused on the complex, dynamic and unpredictable nature of the modern world of warfare.

According to Allenby, international factors are constantly interacting and changing simultaneously, making it risky and uncertain to rely on our predictions of future warfare environments. 

“Every dimension of the world that you think is stable is in fact changing,” Allenby said.

Regents’ Professor and Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology Ronald Arkin examined the appropriate role of robotics technology in the future of warfare, especially autonomous lethal robots, and the changes in battlefield ethics as a result of these technologies. 

“The debate here is not about whether or not we should have wars,” Arkin said. “Rather, the question is: assuming that wars will continue, what is the appropriate role of robotics technology?”

Captain Wayne Porter of the U.S. Navy and co-author of the paper “A National Strategic Narrative” under the pseudonym “Mr. Y” focused on how institutional values define how we set and interpret strategy and the growing role of non-state actors in a multi-polar international system. 

“Values are what have to underpin any strategy that we have as a nation,” Porter said.