[Flash Forward] ROBOTS: Should A Robot Be Allowed To Kill?

ROBOTS: Should A Robot Be Allowed To Kill? 25/11/21 by Rose Eveleth

Web player: https://podcastaddict.com/episode/131746424

Episode: https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.megaphone.fm/FLASH8746356617.mp3?updated=1637781744

Today we travel to a future where militaries employ killer robots. Should a robot be allowed to take a human life? Is the speed of war increasing too quickly? What does a tech worker do when they find out their work is being used for war?


Kelsey Atherton, a reporter who covers military technology.

Ryan Calo, a professor of law at the University of Washington.

Dr. Ryan Jenkins, an associate professor of philosophy at California Polytechnic State University.

Liz O’Sullivan, the CEO of Parity. Dr. Lucy Suchman, a professor emerita of sociology at Lancaster University.

Dr. Jesse Kirkpatrick, an assistant professor of philosophy at George Mason University.

Dr. Carlotta Berry, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Kate Conger, a technology reporter at the New York Times.

Voice Actors: Rachael Deckard: Richelle Claiborne Chad: Brett Tubbs Lina: Ashley Kellem Brad: Brent Rose Halimah: Zahra Noorbakhsh Malik: Henry Alexander Kelly Summer: Shara Kirby Ashoka: Anjali Kunapaneni Eliza: Chelsey B Coombs Dorothy Levitt: Tamara Krinsky John Dee: Keith Houston Seargent William Walter: Jarrett Sleeper

→ → → Further reading & resources here! ← ← ←

Flash Forward is hosted by, Rose Eveleth and produced by Julia Llinas Goodman. The intro music is by Asura and the outro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Mattie Lubchansky. Get in touch: Twitter // Facebook // Reddit // info@flashforwardpod.com Support the show: Patreon // Donorbox Subscribe: iTunes // Soundcloud // Spotify

Episode Sponsors: The Long Time Academy: A new podcast about time, and how we think about time. Bird Note Daily: A short, 2-minute daily dose of bird — from wacky facts, to hard science, and even poetry. Nature: The leading international journal of science. Get 50% off your yearly subscription when you subscribe at go.nature.com/flashforward. BetterHelp: Making professional therapy accessible, affordable, and convenient. Visit betterhelp.com/flashforward and get 10% off your first month. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Listen Date: early January 2022


  • A problem I’ve had with Flash Forward over the past two seasons has been that inspite of its stated ethos of “Imagine Better Futures”, most of the episode goes towards warning us about the worst possible future use of technology and then leaving the imagination of a better one as an exercise to the listener. This is particularly egregious when it comes to the “An evil corporation will use this technology to exploit workers even more” tracks that came about in the shrinking people and nocturnal people episodes. But in this episode it’s not like there was much positive to imagine about a future of robot soldiers (unless you’re all into the idea of deterrence).
  • Towards the end it made a big deal about the idea of how creepy it was to have autonomous weapons – but personally speaking, I don’t find it more creepy than non-autonomous weapons being handled by people. Perhaps I just distrust people more than Rose Eveleth and everybody she talked to does.
  • But that’s it. I think my expectations from Flash Forward have reduced so much that I wasn’t paying that much attention.

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