Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Ethics, and the Military: A Canadian Perspective

  • Sherry Wasilow Defence Research and Development Canada
  • Joelle B. Thorpe Defence Research and Development Canada


Defense and security organizations depend upon science and technology to meet operational needs, predict and counter threats, and meet increasingly complex demands of modern warfare. Artificial intelligence and robotics could provide solutions to a wide range of military gaps and deficiencies. At the same time, the unique and rapidly evolving nature of AI and robotics challenges existing polices, regulations, and values, and introduces complex ethical issues that might impede their development, evaluation, and use by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Early consideration of potential ethical issues raised by military use of emerging AI and robotics technologies in development is critical to their effective implementation. This article presents an ethics assessment framework for emerging AI and robotics technologies. It is designed to help technology developers, policymakers, decision makers, and other stakeholders identify and broadly consider potential ethical issues that might arise with the military use and integration of emerging AI and robotics technologies of interest. We also provide a contextual environment for our framework, as well as an example of how our framework can be applied to a specific technology. Finally, we briefly identify and address several pervasive issues that arose during our research.

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