Florence Parly convenes the Ethics Committee of the Ministry of the Armed Forces for its first meeting.
If ethics is inherent in the doctrines of action and employment of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, no body has so far been able to address the questions raised by emerging technologies and their use in the field of defence.
This is now the case. The Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly had announced it in April 2019 during her speech on the ministerial strategy on artificial intelligence: the Defence Ethics Committee is created and met for the first time this Friday, January 10, 2020.
This committee is composed of 18 members bringing together all the necessary expertise: lawyers, professors, researchers, military, doctors, engineers, scientists and historians. The Minister of the Armed Forces will define a roadmap for the committee, which will also be able to decide for itself on the subjects it considers to be priorities.
The committee’s mission will be to contribute to the reflection on ethical issues related to defence, whether they concern the ethical issues related to the evolution of the military profession or the emergence of new technologies in the field of defence, such as the use of artificial intelligence, for example. It will be empowered to make any proposals or recommendations on these issues, with the exception of issues directly related to the conduct of operational commitments and the handling of litigation cases. France is the first major military power to set up a structure for permanent reflection on the ethical challenges of new technologies in the field of defence.
Chaired by Bernard Pêcheur, this committee is made up of 18 leading figures from the armed forces but also qualified outside personalities. These personalities are appointed by the Minister of the Armed Forces for a three-year term, renewable once.
The opening of the committee to outside personalities is crucial to nourish and enrich the discussions. Specialists from the land, air, naval and cyber environments, but also experts in the fields of health, philosophy, new technologies, military history, as well as experienced men and women with an intimate knowledge of the Ministry will therefore sit at the table of the Ethics Committee of the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
On the basis of the Minister’s guidance, the committee will begin its work by the end of January 2020. Two major high-stakes subjects will be proposed by the Minister of the Armed Forces: the "augmented soldier", and autonomous weapons systems which will be strongly developed in all the armies of the world with the development of artificial intelligence.
Find the Minister’s speech (in French) here