[Photo: Cole Keister/unsplash]
„Mein Haus brennt, und ich stelle die Möbel um!“ – dieses russische Sprichwort stehe exemplarisch für die gegenwärtige Krise der Sozialwissenschaften, argumentiert Robert Benson in seinem neuen Beitrag. In Zeiten von Neoautoritarismus in Gestalt von Trump und Bolsonaro, Repressionen gegen universitäre Einrichtungen im Herzen Europas und rechtsextremen Mobs auf den Straßen von Chemnitz seien Akademiker*innen mehr denn je in der Pflicht, sich zu Wort zu melden. Stattdessen dominierten nach wie vor elitäre Debatten innerhalb akademischer Zirkel, weit entfernt von allgemeiner öffentlicher Wahrnehmung. Doch wenn Wissenschaft weiterhin nach dem von Max Weber konstatierten Muster betrieben werde – berechnend, exakt und gefühllos, so spiegeln auch die resultierenden Debatten diese Haltung wider. Als Sozialwissenschftler*in hingegen habe man, frei nach Howard Becker, den Luxus moralischer Indifferenz aufgegeben. Daher plädiert Benson für ein Ende des Maulkorbs – es sei an der Zeit, den Elfenbeinturm zu verlassen und kollektiv die Stimme zu erheben.
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[Photo: Cole Keister/unsplash]
The Austrian jurist Hans Kelsen wrote in the summer of 1932 ‘one hears talk on all sides of a crisis—and sometimes even a catastrophe— of democracy’. Embroiled in a bitter exchange with his fellow legal scholars, the erstwhile philosophy teacher from Vienna was increasingly isolated and at odds with his profession. ‘Those who are for democracy’ he argued ‘cannot allow themselves to be caught in the dangers of idle debates’. Spirited in his defense of the Weimar Constitution, Kelsen was not in keeping with the times. There was, he believed, a sense of urgency to his scholarly work that his contemporaries simply did not understand. We live in a world, he lamented, absent of heroes. Within months of accepting his professorship at the University of Cologne, Kelsen was summarily dismissed on political grounds.
‘History may not repeat itself’, the Yale historian Timothy Snyder argues, ‘but it certainly instructs’. Once again there is talk of a crisis of democracy. Yet like the fatigue which comes at the onset of a fever, there exists a disorientating malaise amongst social scientists. We work and publish; we debate with our colleagues, but to what ends?
Continue reading “This cannot be business as usual: re-examining the role of the scholar in the age of Trump”
© 2015 Russell Christian for Human Rights Watch
For the past four years, diplomats, academic experts, and NGO representatives have come together for a number of meetings in Geneva to discuss regulating the so-called Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. While drones have become a normal part of military operations, LAWS, or as those critical of them like to call them, killer robots, are still in a stage of early development. What makes them special is that they are capable of navigating through air space searching for potential targets, and once they have found them, they can use their weapons to select them and fire on them, all on their own. Put bluntly, these are machines that – once deployed – can kill humans on their own without human interference. While the use of drones – especially in so-called targeted killing operations – already raise a myriad of legal, ethical, and technical questions (which I discuss in some more detail here), LAWS add an additional layer of complexity, leading to three problems when it comes to granting them the agency to kill: the laws of war and the issue of emotions, responsibility, and de-humanization.
Continue reading “The Rise of Killer Robots: Should machines be allowed to kill us?”