About the project
The Why. Our time is characterised by technologies that develop very quickly. These developments allow for applications that were still considered pure science fiction a few years ago. In some areas, potential uses of the technologies may result in situations where acceptable and unacceptable outcomes are almost living in parallel, both in civilian and military sectors. Knowing that something desired might create more enthusiasm in its development, resulting in reduced time to market time, we believe that by understanding what is seen as acceptable and unacceptable in different areas can result in a better and more appropriate use of the technologies.
The How. One way to figure this out is by asking the most heterogeneous number of people worldwide about their personal opinions. To this end, the technology foresight research program of armasuisse Science and Technology decided to set up a survey to collect opinions. We would like the results to generate more focused discussions and questioning. Different partners who will focus on the analysis of the answers from different perspectives joined the initiative.
The What. Since May 2020, the online survey is accessible in 4 languages here and an English version here below. It can be done anonymously and has no commercial purpose. The anonymised results are processed and analysed according to the tentative roadmap presented here.
Take the survey Now !
Just click on an image and tell us what is for you acceptable and unacceptable in this domain !
Your name and email address are not mandatory as we respect your desire or need for anonymity. Providing them will help us to inform you about the results of the survey.
|Quelle est votre opinion ? (FR)||Was ist Ihre Meinung ? (DE)||Qual’è la Sua opinione ? (IT)|
This section reports a few examples of the kind of analysis we are working on. It considers all the answers we received until June 10th 2020. A complete story will be ready after the survey has been completed by as many people as possible. The analysis is not complete and is only a first draft of a few things we can find out from the answers.
This first easy analysis is done considering only single words and their frequency in the text. A word cloud is a visualisation technique that draws the words contained in the answers, with a size that is proportional to the frequency of appearance. Or in other words the more used is a word, the bigger it is in the visualisation (in the word cloud). Additional analysis can be done using what is called bigrams (or a couple of words) that always appear together.
You can see some of the examples considering all the answers in English in the sections below.
Autonomous Systems, AI and decision support
Progress in various technologies makes it possible today to transfer to machines various tasks such as giving you cash, transporting you from one floor to another, and even from one place to another.
The functions that are transferred from the human to the machine might have a different level of acceptance in relation to the tasks and decisions they are performing.
We are in a society promoting digitalisation, (video-) communication on mobile networks, with global supply-chain and intensive worldwide travelling possibilities. All these activities are enabled by continuous consumption of energy either produced via fossile or renewable means.
At personal and professional level, we can adapt our behaviors up to a certain level as we might be forced into one direction by political and commercial pressure. Up to which extend would you be ready to modify and adapt your lifestyle with respect to the energetic parameter?
Weapons like any other product have an evolution and will benefit from progresses in all the areas of the civilian industries. Improvements in speed, agility, target detection and identification, stealth, not to mention robotics in general and the recent activities in different spheres such as Space and Cyberspace create a fertile ground for the development and invention of future weapons.
Without entering the debate if a weapon is acceptable or not given the Geneva conventions, some of them will have specificities that might cause ethical challenges for people to use.
Recent progresses in technology have made accessible the artificial editing of the genome, not only for plants and animals, but also for humans. Genetic manipulation opens the door to a lot of hope from curing deseases to solving famine caused by droughts thanks to some more resistant crops.
At the same time fear rises with the possible creation of viruses targeting people with specific genetical characteristics and unknown consequences of genome manipulations on future generations. Power comes with responsability, but which uses would you rather give your approval to?
Human Enhancement and Repair
The human being is far from perfect and its evolution takes time, too much time for some of us! Thanks to different technologies it is now possible not only to restore some functions after an accident, but also to enhance them.
Potentially creating some inequality between who can afford to be enhanced and who cannot, we wonder if there are contexts, situations or even senses that are more acceptable than other to be enhanced.
Citing Paul Scharre, “The winner of the robotics revolution will not be who develops this technology first or even who has the best technology, but who figures out how to best use it.”
If we are used to work with machines since the last industrial revolution, teaming with a (or more) machines to better perform a task is still something new. Example of such interactions includes aircraft cockpits, industrial plants, but also nursing and caring psychological or physical. What function or task would you be ready to give to perform to a machine rather than to a human?
Technologies including facial recognition system (from a digital image or a video frame from a video source), sensors measuring various physiological parameters or simply implemented electronic chipset (RFID) allow the identification or verification of a person identity.
This offers various opportunities but also numerous threats for the privacy. Automatically recognising somebody could present various advantages in medical emergencies or in a professional context, but what are the informations you would allow to share? Where would you draw the line?
Considering the information technology surrounding us, our understanding of privacy has evolved for sure in the last years.
Are we more open to share private information than before? What is really private information? towards whom? Are you becoming suspect of something because you are not on social medias? Is it the new norm? Until where can a government go to know about its citizens to ensure the general security?
Going to Mars or making Internet available Worldwide, spying activities on Earth with images (and videos) of incredible resolution or directly interacting with a satellite, Space is becoming a place with intensive activities, both civilian and military.
Our dependency for navigation, timing and telecommunication make space activities of a real sensitive nature. Would you trade security for confort?
Statistical Analysis of the answers
Up to 10th of June, 339 people have answered the survey.
Background can be civil, military or both.
|Background||Number of people||Percent|
|Civil (not military)||296||87%|
CountryAmong the people who answered the survey, 4 countries are the most represented: Switzerland, Italy, UK and Netherlands. All the others provided less than 10 opinions.
|Country||Number of opinions|
|Czech Republic (Česká republika)||6|
|Macedonia (FYROM) (Македонија)||1|
We can already draw some conclusions from the following table. Apparently the top 4 topics that resonates most with people are autonomous systems, future weapons, energy and privacy (together with Human-machine Teaming).
|Context||Number of Answers|
Using text mining it was possible to automatically detect the language of the answers.
Number of answers
The main goals of the projects are
- Produce a report that will give a good overview of the opinions of the uses of new technologies that are acceptable or not.
- Understand what are the top 3-5 topics that are important for a wide public and that will have an impact on the society.
- Understand the consequences of these topics for the society, the government and the armed forces
- Define top 3-5 initiatives that will address the main concerns / ideas that are important for the public
- Identify the main ethical and legal principles that are important for the wide public and create a platform that will give transparency and a possibility for discussion
- 30th June
- Cloud of words
- Structure of the article
- Questions for each topic to be considered
- 31th August
- Individual expert analysis
- Individual expert analysis
- 15th October
- First draft of the document ready
- First draft of the document ready
- 15th November
- Final document ready