10 Ways for Tech Workers to Get Involved

June 12, 2019

10 Ways for Tech Workers to Get Involved

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a coalition of over a hundred civil society organizations working across 54 countries to stop the development and use of fully autonomous weapons through an international treaty. These weapons would be able to select and engage targets without human intervention, effectively ceding the decision to take a human life to a machine. Militaries are actively seeking to acquire these weapons and governments have been slow to respond to the threat they pose.

You are best placed to translate your technical expertise into effective policy that will shape the future of this industry.

While our campaigners are creating pressure at the United Nations and in national capitals around the world, lobbying governments to enact proactive policy on this issue, we need industry and tech workers to contribute to the conversation and use their technical expertise to drive policy changes.

We’ve seen the power that organizing within companies can have. It’s up to each of us to harness the power of community to create meaningful change. The tips below are concrete ways you can contribute as an individual. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots stands by to amplify your efforts and ensure they impact international policymakers. There are many forces working against us, but together, we can contribute to a positive future for the industry you work in—one that enshrines human dignity and rights for all.

Listed in order of low effort to high effort endeavors:

  1. Sign a pledge to not participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of fully autonomous weapons. The growing number of signatures is a significant figure that conveys the urgency of the matter to policymakers. Over 25,000 artificial intelligence experts have co-signed various open letters since 2015 calling for a new treaty to ban fully autonomous weapons.
  2. Donate funds to the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots or offer up your office space for our next event. Ask your employer about gift-matching, and don’t forget, donations are tax-deductible. Some US employees have the option to donate pre-tax dollars directly from their company salary using Benevity.
  3. Ask a question at your next company all hands meeting. If your company is presented with a lucrative opportunity to contribute to fully autonomous weapons would your CEO take it? If the technology you are working on is dual-use, clarify exactly what limits exist on how it will be deployed or modified. Question where your company receives funding and how it chooses its customers and partners. In today’s economy, technology has many applications and willing customers- decide who you’re willing to work with before a sizeable contract is dangled in front of you. Follow up by writing a letter to the CEO of your company.
  4. Write a letter to your congress members or parliamentarians. Meet with your elected leaders on the issue and share your concerns as a constituent. Advocate for not just regulation, but a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons, which remains possible if you help us build the political momentum. Want to do even more? Travel to Washington D.C. or Geneva, and join a cohort of tech allies pressing lawmakers to enact policy against fully autonomous weapons.
  5. Nominate a Campaign to Stop Killer Robots member as a speaker for your favorite tech conference. We love to share our work at the intersection of tech & policy, and how tech workers can harness their passions to help civil society. Let’s collaborate and pitch a talk.
  6. Write a blog post featuring the Campaign. Make killer robots the topic of your next podcast episode. Make a vlog or video post. Publish an op-ed. As someone within the industry, you have a unique and fresh perspective. Share it with the world! Pitch it to national outlets, but also to your local paper, or organization-wide newsletter/publication. We’d be happy to promote your work, and if you’d like to arrange an interview with someone from the Campaign, please reach out to media@stopkillerrobots.org.
  7. Mobilize your network. Consider the groups you’re already a part of- would the youth group you volunteer with be interested in robots? You bet. Would your veterans group have strong opinions on AI & warfare? Yep. Help us reach interested communities and give them the ideas and agency to contribute to the work of the Campaign. Raise ethical concerns with startups you mentor, and on boards you’re a part of. Share best practices if your company already has policy in place to ensure it never contributes to fully autonomous weapons.
  8. Host an educational event and deep dive into the topic of artificial intelligence in warfare. This can be a meetup or a discussion group to raise awareness, a book club meeting, a hackathon, a trivia night, a fundraiser, a public demonstration, or a dinner party. Think outside of the box—What about feminism and killer robots? What about a dance party for a cause, board game night, or an art gallery event? Consider the impact you would like to have and leave your audience with an action-oriented goal.
  9. Volunteer your time with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. We’re always looking for translation of our materials, and creative ways to convey our message through digital means. What unique passions & skills do you have that could amplify our cause?
  10. Become a whistleblower. Is your company working on technology that you’re concerned about? Organize the conscience objectors within your organization and get support from allies in your industry. We can connect you with legal help, journalists, and a support system of tech workers who have taken a stand at their own companies. There is strength in numbers. You are not alone.

These tips are widely applicable for ways to assist civil society at large. Interested in getting involved? We’re here to help with resources, expert knowledge and to connect you with a global network of tech allies working with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. For even more ideas of ways you can help, explore www.stopkillerrobots.org and sign up for our monthly mailing list. Stay up to date by following the Campaign on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or subscribe on YouTube.