Program Schedule

Location: University of Pennsylvania Law School, 3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia PA

9:00am – 9:30am

Registration – Haaga Lounge (The Goat) 

9:30am – 9:35am 

Welcome Remarks – Theodore Ruger, Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law – Gittis 1 

9:35am – 10:45am    

Panel 1:  Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Gittis 1 

Most technological advances in new weaponry depend on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Although AI and its role in warfare have been increasingly in the spotlight, AI’s intersection with other technologies, particularly cyber technology, has been largely overlooked. Panel 1 will focus on the conjunction of AI and cyberwarfare and will address the type and level of disruption that AI-enabled cyber weapons may cause; the likelihood of anticipating and adequately defending against threats and attacks; accessibility of the technology to terrorists and other non-state actors; and the adequacy of current law and protocols to regulate the new technology and threats. Merging the two technologies raises novel legal and ethical issues. Should we rely solely on autonomous weapons systems to initiate defense measures? Or should we require a human actor in the decision loop? Is it possible for humans to understand the “thinking” being done by autonomous systems?  Should AI systems be developed to enable human control, or would this needlessly inhibit the advancement of AI? Is it even possible to regulate a system that is continually evolving and that one day may be much more “intelligent” than humans?    

Moderator: Professor Claire Finkelstein, CERL Founder & Faculty Director; Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania


Professor Gary Brown, Professor of Cyber Law at the College of Information and Cyberspace, National Defense University

The Honorable Thomas Ayres, General Counsel, United States Air Force

Professor Derek Leben, Department Chair and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

LTC Christopher Korpella, Associate Professor and Director of the Robotics Research Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point

10:45am – 11:00am


11:00am – 12:15pm 

Panel 2:  Biological and Chemical Convergence – Gittis 1 

Advances in technology are creating areas of convergence among traditional scientific disciplines, particularly in the domains of the biological and chemical sciences.  As new methods are developed to weaponize biological and chemical agents, as this technology becomes more accessible to non-state actors, and as the technology’s products become increasing lethal, current regulatory mechanisms are struggling to keep pace. For example, scientists have developed processes to synthesize biological toxins by chemical means and, conversely, to make chemical warfare agents with the aid of bacterial enzymes. Are these chemically modified biological agents covered by the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, both, or neither? What potential does this technology hold for developing new weapons?  Are there weaknesses in current governance mechanisms? Do rogue and non-state actors have access to this technology and the weapons it may spawn?  Is it permissible to produce them if done for the purpose of designing antidotes and countermeasures? Is the first use of these weapons in a conflict ever justifiable? Does it matter whether the adversary was first to deploy them? Is it ethical to use these weapons in self-defense? 

Moderator: Professor Victoria Sutton, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy,Texas Tech School of Law 


Professor Kevin Govern, Professor of Law, Ave Maria School of Law

Professor Michael Horowitz, Professor of Political Science and the Associate Director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Jesse Kirkpatrick, Research Assistant Professor, the Assistant Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University

Professor Gigi Kwik Gronvall, Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

12:15pm – 1:30pm

Lunch - Attendees are free to have lunch on their own at one of the many nearby restaurants.

1:30pm – 2:45pm 

Panel 3:  Biological Enhancements and Genetics – Fitts Auditorium

Less than 10 years ago, the idea of artificially enhancing human biology was thought the stuff of science fiction. Today, through technological advancements in areas such as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) genetic research, science fiction becomes reality. One emerging area of development is the enhancement of human soldiers through biological and genetic intervention. These enhancements may take the form of augmented cognition, increased ability to operate while sleep deprived, magnified strength and stamina, quicker and more lasting recovery from physical and mental wounds, and heightened protection from certain chemical and biological agents. Panel 3 will discuss the state of current and future enhancements and the immense ethical implications that are involved. Is it ethical to alter the human condition to improve offensive or defensive military capability? Should we permit such enhancements to be passed along to future generations if the technology allows?  Should individual servicemembers have the right to know the risks of these enhancements, and the right to refuse them? Given the level of expense and sophistication, is it likely this technology could fall into the hands of rogue actors? 

Moderator: Christopher W. Jacobs, Fellow, Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School


Professor Jonathan Moreno, Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, of History and Sociology of Science, and of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania

Professor Victoria Sutton, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Biodefense, Law and Public Policy,Texas Tech School of Law

Dr. Edward Barrett, Director of Research, U.S. Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership

Dr. William Casebeer, Director of the Innovation Laboratory at Beyond Conflict

2:45pm – 3:00pm


3:00pm – 4:15pm

Panel 4:  Nanotechnology – Fitts Auditorium 

The ability to make objects lighter, stronger, more compact, and less costly holds great appeal for the development of new weapons. Given the critical nature of data-driven technologies in warfare, the greatest advances in new weaponry are likely to come about by improvements in our ability to store increasing amounts of data on smaller and smaller substrata. The current tidal wave of technological advancement has shown unimaginable advances in data storage, and new weaponry has begun to exploit these advances. Nanotechnology not only promotes the invention of new means and methods for conducting warfare, it also enables novel delivery systems for existing weapons. This panel will discuss the implications of nanotechnology for lasers, electronics, robotics, drones, exoskeletons, toxic nanoparticles, and nanoparticle catalysts. The panel will also discuss the ethical implications of endowing human actors with the attributes of robots. For example, is it ethical to use nanotechnology to remove human actors (servicemembers) from the employment of lethal force? Is it ethical to use unwitting civilians to deliver toxic nanoparticles to a specific target? Does it matter that the civilians are not impacted by the toxin, only the target? Is it proper, through nanotechnology, to mask the identity of the actor/combatant? If nanotechnology diminishes attribution, what impact will this have on the notion of self-defense?

Moderator: Professor Mitt Regan, McDevitt Professor of Jurisprudence, Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, and Co-Director on the Center on National Security and the Law at Georgetown University Law Center


Professor Margaret Kosal, Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

LTC Christopher Korpela, Associate Professor and Director of the Robotics Research Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Mr. Louis Del Monte, CEO of Del Monte & Associates, Inc. 

4:15pm – 4:30pm


4:30pm – 6:00pm

Keynote Address “A Warfighter’s Perspective on the Challenge of Future Weaponry” 
General (ret) Joseph Votel, Fmr. Commander, United States Central Command – Fitts Auditorium

6:00pm – 7:00pm 

Reception – Haaga Lounge (The Goat)