Randall Dipert, a Discussion on Cyberwarfare


Location: 400 Geddes Hall

Cyberwarfare: Extending the Domain and the Search for Relevant Analogies

Randall Dipert, C.S. Pierce Professor of American Philosophy at University of Buffalo, will give a presentation followed by a discussion on Thursday, August 9 at 10:00am in 400 Geddes Hall (the Conference Room). For information about Randall Dipert see, http://dipert.org/ orhttp://www.philosophy.buffalo.edu/people/faculty/dipert/.

Randy’s presentation will address three issues:

1.       Although almost all the discussion of cyberwarfare has focused on the internet “vector” (to borrow a term from the theory of infectious diseases), I will argue that in the next decades we are likely to see a much wider range of vectors: infiltration of distributed software and hardware (including diverse peripherals), ways of tapping and infiltrating electronic devices using induction and other techniques, cleverly embedded low-frequency radio circuits in integrated circuits, etc.  These will present a host of theoretical, policy and ethical questions, including further obstacles to treaties, laws, and attribution.

2.       Ethical and legal theory, policy, and intuitions about cyberwarfare appear to require us to think hard about analogies: to imagine which past weapons, strategies, and epochs of conflict  are most “like” cyberwarfare, and to make inferences from these.  (This technique itself requires a not-unproblematic meta-ethical theory of the relevance of analogies and paradigms.)  What are the broad, ethically-relevant properties of cyberattacks, and to what extent do these resemble new weapons and conflicts of the past?  (precision bombing, nuclear, the cold war, etc.)

3.       Most theories of internet intrusions and damage (and intrusions and harms by other vectors) implicitly rely upon analogies of physical intrusion and physical damage, using a standard property-rights or sovereignty theory.  Yet a website is not like that: it intentionally has an “open door,”  welcoming everyone to enter.   Again, how is information-system intrusion, “violation” of trust, and intentional cyberdamage most similar to traditional paradigms?  (Some, notably Neil Rowe, have argued that cyber-intrusions and damage somehow involve perfidy--forbidden by international law—or at least some form of immoral deception.  I argue that this is problematic.)