University of Bath, UK, 3-5 September 2018
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Panel 408: UACES Research Network: Advances in Unmanned-Vehicle Research in a European Security Context
UACES CRN: Advances in Unmanned-vehicle Research in a European Security Context
This panel brings different theoretical approaches to understand the questions raised by unmanned vehicles in the EU context and its implications for European security and defence. It maps the state-of-the-art and identifies the main current and future trends on the academic research on drones. In particular, it highlights issues such as the role of the European Commission and expert groups in developing drones in Europe, the legal parameters of drone usage in Europe, and the recent developments towards increased artificial intelligence. This panel is part of the CRN INTERSECT.
Presentations of the Symposium
Revolutionary Dual-Use Technologies - Implications of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Robotics for European Security
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and autonomous robotics have become vital areas of global strategic competition, heralding the impending possibility of becoming the revolutionary technologies of the current century. They offer innovative solutions for internal and external security challenges, from cybersecurity, unmanned aerial vehicles, enhanced data processing for surveillance systems, deep learning, to weapons systems automation. However, like any disruptive and dual-use technology, they present intricate societal, technological, and security risks. The European Union (EU) has recently taken note of the transformative potential of AI and autonomous robotics, but Europe severely lags behind in their research and development (R&D), due to scarcities in human capital and the lack of commercial competitiveness in this emerging digital sector. Their dual-use potential reveals deeper complexities in allocating controls in technological design and ethical standards of usability for security purposes, without at the same time stifling innovation. By drawing on an interdisciplinary approach from critical security studies and critical technology theory, this paper problematises the disruptive potential, the strategic implications, and the technological efficiency of AI technologies and autonomous robotics for internal and external security purposes in Europe. In doing so, it also examines the conditions behind Europe’s delay in translating technological innovation in this field into a global strategic edge. In addition, the paper looks into the EU’s agenda-setter potential as a key driver in galvanising the AI sector to bridge the technological-innovation gap and to engender a “European approach” to AI and autonomous robotics in an era of rapid technological change and global insecurity.
The EU Drone Ecosystem: Societal Concerns, Actors and Practices
The European Commission has played a leadership role during the last years to set up a European policy framework for the civil use of drones. The extensive commercialisation of civil drones has made them affordable and more accessible to a wide range of users for leisure, commercial, and professional activities. In addition, drones as fast-evolving technology offer a growing number of applications. These technology developments have raised a series of societal concerns (i.e. security, safety, privacy, data protection, environmental protection) which might jeopardize the public acceptance to their upcoming integration into the European airspace. This paper will look at the European Union’s (EU) initiatives to tackle these issues. It will especially evaluate the Commission’s strategy to join and shape the drone community where multiple authorities overlap, and its impact on security practices. Hence, the paper will analyse the configuration of relations and power relationships between European, national and international, public and private, civil and military actors who are part of the drone community (rule makers, interest groups, manufacturers, operators and users) and involved in this policy process. It will show that the Commission has exercised its leadership capacity to initiate actions towards a new EU policy on drones, using its competencies and resources in market, research and regulation. Besides, it will argue that such policy might ultimately offer to the Commission an additional lever for action to strengthen its position in the field of security as drones – as dual-use technologies – are part of a strategic and dynamic industry.
Challenges for Fundamental Rights Protection in the Use of Drone Technology
Drone is one of the current technological devices with the greatest prospects for use. It is estimated that last year the drone business mobilized more than 7 million dollars worldwide in the distribution sector, and that this figure would approach 30 million by 2021.
Although its use is very widespread in the military field, its use in the civil field also presents great challenges, particularly from the perspective of fundamental rights that may be affected by the use of drones (privacy, image, data protection). Its impact may vary —and it likely will— as the technology can incorporate progresses.
Drone operations must respect and guarantee the regulations for the protection of rights at the European level, in particular the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Nevertheless, and also at national level in the respective scoop of application.
Our aim in this paper is to develop an overview on the actual European legal framework for the civil use of drones outlining fundamental rights protection challenges from a multilevel constitutional perspective.
See below for uploaded paper
Expertise in EU Security Policy and the Illusion of Dual-Use Technology
Since the beginning of the EU’s Framework Programme 7, the EU has used millions of EUR of its research funds to foster consortia that aim at developing ‘security solutions’ employing dual-use technology. Given that FP7 and Horizon2020 prevented the funding of defence research, the development of ‘dual-use’ technology has been instrumental for European and non-European defence companies to attract EU funding and remain competitive in the international stage. In this paper, I explore these dynamics in parallel with the centrality of ‘expertise’ in the field of defence. Practical knowledge in security research has ‘enabled major European corporations to assert a privileged discursive and political position in the “linked ecologies” of formal scientific research, product development and EU policymaking’ (Carmel 2016:771). In the case of defence R&D, the central role occupied by the industry-led ‘Group of Personalities’ in the definition of EU’s policies in this domain raises questions of unaccountability and lack of transparency.
Within this logic, expertise and dual-use technology have been employed as legitimising criteria allowing increasing militarization and mounting budgeting for EU defence, as witnessed in the 2016 European Defence Action Plan and in the PA for defence research. This paper offers a critical de-construction of these criteria through an expansion of the literatures on expertise and expert knowledge via the input of Science and Technology Studies.
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Conference: UACES 2018
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