The cubicle warrior: the marionette of digitalized warfare [Book Review]

Ethics and Information Technology 12 (3):289-296 (2010)


In the last decade we have entered the era of remote controlled military technology. The excitement about this new technology should not mask the ethical questions that it raises. A fundamental ethical question is who may be held responsible for civilian deaths. In this paper we will discuss the role of the human operator or so-called ‘cubicle warrior’, who remotely controls the military robots behind visual interfaces. We will argue that the socio-technical system conditions the cubicle warrior to dehumanize the enemy. As a result the cubicle warrior is morally disengaged from his destructive and lethal actions. This challenges what he should know to make responsible decisions (the so-called knowledge condition). Nowadays and in the near future, three factors will influence and may increase the moral disengagement even further due to the decrease of locus of control orientation: (1) photo shopping the war; (2) the moralization of technology; (3) the speed of decision-making. As a result, cubicle warriors cannot be held reasonably responsible anymore for the decisions they make

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Citations of this work

Societal and Ethical Issues of Digitization.Lambèr Royakkers, Jelte Timmer, Linda Kool & Rinie van Est - 2018 - Ethics and Information Technology 20 (2):127-142.
Extending Introspection.Lukas Schwengerer - 2021 - In Robert William Clowes, Klaus Gärtner & Inês Hipólito (eds.), The Mind-Technology Problem - Investigating Minds, Selves and 21st Century Artifacts. Springer. pp. 231-251.
Saying 'No!' to Lethal Autonomous Targeting.Noel Sharkey - 2010 - Journal of Military Ethics 9 (4):369-383.
From a View to a Kill.Derek Gregory - 2011 - Theory, Culture and Society 28 (7-8):188-215.
Responsibility Practices and Unmanned Military Technologies.Merel Noorman - 2014 - Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (3):809-826.

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