SEPT 22, 2016 - Historically cognitive engineering has been used in a large breadth of domains (aviation, medicine, automobiles). Now, international law and autonomous weapons can be added to the list. Marc Canellas and Rachel Haga, two researchers in the CEC, have published an article in the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine (requires IEEE Xplore) showing how cognitive engineering can be used to develop effective technical regulations of autonomous weapons systems (AWS).
Abstract: "Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) sit at the intersection of novel automation capable of making decisions without humans and established lethal weapons. Their development has reached the highest level of consideration for international regulation, the United Nations (UN). Despite multiple UN Meetings of Experts from 2014-2016, there has been little progress the four key issues: 1) how to define autonomy, 2) the amount or quality of human control necessary for lawful use of AWS, 3) how to establish an accountability framework for AWS, and 4) how to review and certify permissible AWS. We propose that the discipline of cognitive systems engineering can be the unifying, technical language for developing effective regulations of AWS. Cognitive systems engineering research has developed standards and techniques for modeling and measuring the performance of complex, sociotechnical, and safety-critical systems like AWS. We show that cognitive systems engineering research can be leveraged to identify the sources of conflict and locations of consensus at the UN, and make meaningful progress on the four key issues."