For the first time in the aerospace industry, the French-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program has set up an Expert Commission on the responsible use of technologies while developing a networked fighter jet by 2040.
A Future Combat Air System will use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, crypto components or human-machine interaction. While this opens up new opportunities for security policy and the military, it also poses challenges of an ethical and legal nature.
The objective of the Expert Commission, scheduled to meet in October this year, is to ensure that the European air defense system meets the mission requirements of the 21st century, while at the same time guaranteeing that the system is under the full control of a responsible human operator at all times and whatever the circumstances, a statement on the recently launched FCAS Forum website says.
When Airbus and German organization Fraunhofer teamed up to lay the technological foundations for FCAS, a concept emerged where information technology and engineering science design methods are used to advance the operationalization of ethical and legal principles.
The result of this joint initiative is the 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft Technikverantwortung' (Expert Commission on the responsible use of technologies) to provide systematic support and guidance during FCAS development. Its goal is to determine ethical guidelines based on international law and to ensure their technical implementation.
This means that for the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, a major defense policy project is being accompanied from the very beginning by an intellectual struggle surrounding the technical implementation of fundamental ethical and legal principles - also referred to as 'ethical and legal compliance by design.'