duckbot2Killer Robots: Wired reports on developments in autonomous weaponry, quoting military personnel who say the idea is to think of them “not as tools but as members of the squad.” Video gamers collaboratively solved a decade-old puzzle about the complex structure of an enzyme relevant to HIV-AIDS research, suggesting human spatial reasoning is superior to algorithms: a point not at all lost on those who think putting complex situational life and death judgments into machine hands is a bad idea. 270 engineers, roboticists a computer science experts have signed a statement demanding a ban. Kenneth Anderson argues against. The United Nations Disarmament Committee meets this week and at the behest of campaigners, France has called for autonomous weapons to be on the agenda. Civil society groups released a new call for international talks, and held a side event at the meeting Monday afternoon, aiming to increase interest in the issue and support for a ban.

War Law:

Civilian protection campaigner Sarah Holewinski is honored in a write-up at Ozy.com.
Former child soldier Omar Khadr, whose confession was extracted under torture, will remain in a Canadian federal prison. My students are watching this film about Khadr this week.

Human Rights and Society:

Elite British students have been asked to justify murdering civilians on a scholarship essay question.
UNIFEM has a new and fairly disturbing ad campaign using Google search results to highlight sexism.
Mark Bittman on the politics of hunger.

And Don’t Panic But: 

Astronomers have discovered a massive asteroid that could hit the Earth in 30 years.

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