The cubicle warrior: the marionette of the digitalized warfare

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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