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Battlefield Next Podcast Episode 2: Interview with Professor Claire Finkelstein of the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Battlefield Next Podcast Episode 2: Interview with Professor Claire Finkelstein of the University of Pennsylvania Law School

December 4, 2019

On today’s podcast, we have an interview with Professor Claire Finkelstein from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Professor Finkelstein is the founder and director of the Center for Ethics and Rule of Law at University of Pennsylvania Law School. MAJ Wellemeyer had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Finkelstein at the conclusion of the Ethical Challenges in the Development of New Weaponry symposium that occurred earlier this fall. During the conversation, Professor Finkelstein explains why she founded the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, but the majority of the interview is spent discussing topics related to artificial intelligence, including: the intersection of AI and cyberwarfare, the issues with AI and legal accountability, and what judge advocates and national security law practitioners can do to navigate this rapidly evolving area of technology and the law. To listen to the interview, you can do so on your desktop here, or by typing “Battlefield Next” into the search field of your favorite podcast app.


Given our limited time, our conversation covers a small fraction of the legal, ethical, and moral issues that surround AI on the battlefield. Currently, national security law practitioners are grappling with how AI will impact the Law of Armed Conflict. For example, how does the use of AI on the battlefield affect the principles of distinction and proportionality? Does it matter whether a weapons system is defensive, offensive, semi-autonomous, or fully autonomous? What are the implications of having human involvement “in the loop” or “on the loop” during the decision-making process? These are some of the issues that BG Patrick Huston, currently serving as the Assistant Judge Advocate for Military Law and Operations, addressed in his December 2018 article, “Future War and Future Law.” For even more detail on these topics, practitioners should also consider reading “Army of None” by Paul Scharre, a book that is referenced in both BG Huston’s article and MAJ Wellemeyer’s interview with Prof. Finkelstein.

More narrowly, national security law practitioners should be familiar with some of the policies pertaining to AI, including the Department of Defense (DoD) Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the Army Artificial Intelligence Strategy Annex, and DoD Directive 3000.09, the DoD policy on Autonomy in Weapons Systems. In his recent article “Are Killer Robots Really Coming? – Legal Considerations from a Hypothetical Application of Department of Defense Directive 3000.09”, LTC Ryan Beery, the current Chief of National Security Law at US Special Operations Command, addresses some of the legal considerations of complying with DoDD 3000.09 through the lens of a future war hypothetical.

Below is a timeline of some of the subject-areas discussed during the episode, along with hyperlinks to further information and resources:

00:00 Episode introduction

02:55 CERL overview

06:55 Intersection of AI and cyberwarfare

13:01 AI and accountability

18:52 Unplanned effects of AI systems

21:05 Advice for JAs and other legal practitioners

23:13 Closing remarks

If you’re interested in learning more about some of the topics covered during this episode, we recommend the following additional reading and resources that have not already been mentioned:


For more information related to FCD you can follow us on Twitter @jagfcd or by visiting our webpage. If you have recommendations or suggestions about future topics or guests, please send us an email, or login below and provide a comment. Finally, if you like what you hear, please leave us a review on iTunes and subscribe to “Battlefield Next” on your favorite podcast app. While this is a podcast created by US Army Judge Advocates from Future Concepts Directorate, our goal is to reach other judge advocates and lawyers across the DoD, law students, and members of academia. Your reviews help make this possible.

For more information about the US Army JAG Corps, you can go here. If you’re interested in joining the Army JAG Corps, you can get more information by contacting the Judge Advocate Recruiting Office (JARO) or by visiting their webpage.

*Music by Joseph McDade

**The views expressed on the podcast are the views of the participants and do not necessarily represent those of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the Army, the Department of Defense, or any other agency of the US Government.


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