This research project is initiated and coordinated by the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.

Emerging Technologies of National Security and Intelligence (ETNSI)


While the morality and legality of warfare have been studied extensively through the ages, the last years of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century have brought significant shifts in the nature of war and conflict. The research program, initiated by the Reilly Center, considers the recent evolution of new technologies of warfare and intelligence gathering and the ethical, legal, and policy implications of their employment. Participants include military, intelligence, and academic experts with widely varying specializations including ethics, international law, national security studies, and peace studies. 

The Reilly Center is a participating center in the Consortium of Emerging Technologies of Military Operations and National Security (CETMONS) and hosts the annual conference for the International Society of Military Ethics (ISME).

Click here to learn more about the members of our ETNSI initiative.
Click here for a pdf version of this information.


Conference: The International Society for Military Ethics (ISME)

October 11-14, 2015
University of Notre Dame
McKenna Conference Center 

Click here to see the ETNSI event calendar. 

Recent Courses

(Click here to see course archive)

Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technology (Spring 2014)
In this course, students will gain familiarity with the main forms of emerging weapons technologies and reflect on the ethical and legal considerations that bear on whether and how these weapons should be used. Topics to be covered fall into four categories: (1) types of emerging weapons technologies (drones, robotic systems, non-lethal weapons, cyberwarfare, bioenhancement, and data mining), (2) positions on the ethics of peace and war (pacifism, political realism, and just war theory), (3) the Law of Armed Conflict (including the Geneva Convetions), and (4) normative ethical theories (consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics). Course grades will be determined by one paper, a midterm and final quiz, a group report, and a public presentation.
Instructors: Charles Pence, History and Philosophy of Science Program and Maj. Gen (Ret.) Robert Latiff, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar, Reilly Center
Click here for the syllabus

Robot Ethics (Fall 2013)
Robots or “autonomous systems” play an ever-increasing role in many areas, from weapons systems and driverless cars to health care and consumer services. As a result, it is ever more important to ask whether it makes any sense to speak of such systems’ behaving ethically and  how we can build into their programming what some call “ethics modules.” After a brief technical introduction to the field, this course will approach these questions through contemporary philosophical literature on robot ethics and through popular media, including science fiction text and video.
Instructor: Don Howard, Department of Philosophy; Director of the Reilly Center
Click here for the syllabus


NAS Conference image

  • Reilly Cener will host the annual conference of the International Society for Military Ethics
  • Reilly Center hosted a conference on new NAS report about emerging weapons technologies.
  • Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Latiff and graduate student Charles Pence featured in the NYT for their course on weapons ethics.
  • Our ETNSI initiative has been featured in one of the University of Notre Dame's "What Would You Fight For?" commercials. Click here to watch the video and learn more about our collaboration with the US Navy.

Click here to learn more about the work of our ETNSI members.