Killer Robots in London

Auf der achten Ausgabe der Konferenz Popular Culture and World Politics (PCWP 8) präsentierte ich zum Thema “Killer Robots: How campaigners and science-fiction-movies show as the same dystopian future” im Panel “Visuality and Activism”. Programm und Präsentation

Abstract: The 2012 Human-Rights-Watch report “Losing Humanity – The Case against Killer Robots” argues that the future development of “killer robots” – fully autonomous weapon systems – will bare risks for humanitarian law and civilians in armed conflict. However, the growing debate is to large parts a “realistic” description of the plot of science-fiction-movies dealing with the topic. The report states that such weapons “could be developed within 20 to 30 years” which exactly corresponds to the time set of e.g. the movies “I, Robot” from 2004 taking place in 2035 and the new “Robocop” from 2014 taking place in 2028. Those movies deal with the potential future problems of artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons systems in question. Apparently, the ongoing “killer-robots”-debate on the international level and science-fictions-movies about this topic are part of the very same discourse on future dangers of such weapons which I call alluding to Jutta Weldes the “dystopia/science-fiction intertext”. The intertext engages in the devastating consequences of technological-scientific progress for our society, which has not occurred yet. Therefore, those movies should be taken seriously, since they help activists organized for example in the “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots” to normalize and naturalize a techno-phobic perspective being critical of technological progress and development. In the paper I will first make some theoretical and methodological points concerning IR and popular culture before secondly describing the ongoing debate on killer robots. Then, thirdly by coming to the science-fiction-movies I will shed light on the dystopia/science-fiction intertext in order to fourthly deconstruct the inherent technophobia of this discourse.