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Ethics as an enabler and a constraint – Narratives on technology development and artificial intelligence in military affairs through the case of Project Maven
Swedish Defence University, Department of Systems Science for Defence and Security, Systems Science for Defence and Security Division.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9379-1846
2023 (English)In: Technology in society, ISSN 0160-791X, E-ISSN 1879-3274, Vol. 72, article id 102193Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Project Maven is an AI-induced information technology for military applications initiated by the United States Department of Defence (DoD) in 2017 and originally signed on to a civilian contractor, namely Google. However, this initiative raised massive resistance from a substantial amount of Google employees, eventually leading to the contract's annulation. This article uses narrative analysis to investigate enabling and constraining arguments of AI for military purposes that appeared in the debate following the public announcement of Project Maven. In addition, the article highlights the co-production of ethics, technology, and the complex issues that arise from civilian-military exchanges in technology development. Enabling arguments associated with consequentialist ethics are identified as narratives of accuracy and maintenance. Accuracy constitutes a guiding principle for saving civilian lives, while maintenance is directed at keeping the power balance intact. In contrast, constraining arguments proceed from deontological ethics that emphasize disengagement and ambivalence. Disengagement amplifies a civilian/military divide, while ambivalence exhibits conflicting views concerning the prospect of supplementing technological solutions that have the potential to contribute to war and civilian casualties. Conclusively, security narratives and technological storytelling are important aspects to consider since they hold a performative function that influences the framing and mobilization of security and technology development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023. Vol. 72, article id 102193
Keywords [en]
Socio-technical imaginaries, Security narratives, Military AI, Ethics, Conflicting values
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Systems science for defence and security
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11268DOI: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2022.102193OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-11268DiVA, id: diva2:1724754
Available from: 2023-01-09 Created: 2023-01-09 Last updated: 2023-01-09Bibliographically approved

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Malmio, Irja

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard-cite-them-right
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf