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Research study to clarify legality of autonomous defence systems

The A$ 9 million study being conducted by a team researchers will look into embedding ethics and the law into autonomous defence systems.

According to a recent press release, the University of Queensland (UQ) and University of New South Wales Canberra project represents the biggest investment into understanding the social dimension of military robotics, such as self-driving military vehicles, anywhere in the world.

Background of the Project

The project, according to Associate Professor Rain Liivoja, from the UQ Law School, demonstrated the Australian Government’s commitment to developing and adopting technologies in a responsible manner.

The Australian Defence Force operates in a complex regulatory environment, and the use of new autonomous systems complicates matters further.

To address this, the research would clarify both the legal and ethical constraints placed on these systems.

Not only that, it will also look into the ways in which autonomy can enhance compliance with the law and with social values.

In certain high-risk circumstances, autonomous systems may be more reliable than human decision-makers, thus saving lives.

Understanding first the ethical and legal values of the humans, who will be using the machines, will guarantee that there will be trusted and effective cooperation between the humans and the machines.

Dr Liivoja is co-leading the project with Dr Jai Galliot from UNSW in Canberra.

Dr Galliot said the program would address a priority area for the DCRC and would bring together leading international academics and policy makers to spearhead this important research.

The DCRC for Trusted Autonomous Systems

The Defence Cooperative Research Centre (DCRC) for Trusted Autonomous Systems will be backing the five-year project.

The funding for the program was awarded as part of the Australian Government’s Next Generation Technologies Fund.

Trusted Autonomous Systems is Australia’s first DCRC.

It is uniquely equipped to deliver world-leading autonomous and robotic technologies to enable trusted and effective cooperation between humans and machines.

Incidentally, OpenGov Asia reported on its launch.

The Centre allows for Australia’s industry and research sectors to collaborate with Defence on leading edge technologies such as autonomous systems to maintain the Australian Defence Force’s capability advantage.

In other law-related news, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, from the University’s accelerator program, are being given access to expert legal services.

Supporting Start-ups

The good news is that they will only have to pay the bill if their start-up is a success. Each of the start-up company selected would only pay back legal fees when they have raised A$ 500,000 in investment.

Simple mistakes, which could have been prevented, are made by founders because they cannot afford to get the correct advice.

Since start-up founders are competing on a global stage, it is critical for them to get world-class professional advice in order to be positioned for success.

The participants will receive up to A$ 30,000 in legal services from the collaboration that was formed with a law firm.

This model is working successfully in Tel Aviv, one of the world’s most mature start-up ecosystems. It was time to bring the practice to Australia.

Professional and legal services firms in emerging ecosystems often lack the understanding of the particular needs of start-up founders, or the difference between small business and a start-up.

This initiative will provide the local talents with the confidence of a solid legal footing as they launch their businesses into the Australian market, and even beyond that.


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