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Philosophy Today

Volume 65, Issue 3, Summer 2021

Special Topic: Technology and Society

Elke SchwarzOrcid-ID
Pages 549-569

Silicon Valley Goes to War
Artificial Intelligence, Weapons Systems, and Moral Agency

Across the world, militaries are racing to acquire and develop new capabilities based on the latest in machine learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence (AI). In this paper, I argue that the shift into military AI is shaping human behaviour in heretofore unacknowledged and morally significant ways. Following Anders, I argue that as the human becomes digitally co-machinistic (mitmaschinell), they are compelled to adopt a logic of speed and optimisation in their ethical reasoning. The consequence of this is a form a moral de-skilling, whereby military personnel working with digital infrastructures and interfaces become less able to act and decide as moral agents. This is an especially concerning development when it comes to the conduct of war, where the moral stakes could not be higher.

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