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Heather Roff

Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford Department of Politics and International Relations; Research Scientist, Arizona State University, Global Security Initiative



Heather M. Roff is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations and the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict at the University of Oxford. She is also a Research Scientist in the Global Security Initiative at Arizona State University, and a Cybersecurity Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. She received her PhD in 2010 from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Political Science, and she has held faculty positions at the United States Air Force Academy, the University of Waterloo and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Dr. Roff's research interests pertain to the legal, political and normative questions pertaining to the development and deployment of emerging military technologies, such as autonomous weapons, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and robotics. She is currently writing a monograph on the strategic and normative implications of lethal autonomous weapons systems, as well as undertaking empirical research on meaningful human control and autonomous weapons funded by the Future of Life Foundation. She as written numerous academic journal articles on autonomous weapons, cybersecurity and war, as well as a monograph, Global Justice, Kant and the Responsibility to Protect (Routledge, 2013). She blogs for the Huffington Post, the Duck of Minerva, and has written for outlets like Slate Magazine, Defense One and various national newspapers.

Not What We Bargained For: The Cyber Problem

Last week the New America Foundation hosted its launch for an interdisciplinary cybersecurity initiative. I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend and speak, but the real benefit was that I was af...
03/02/2015 06:54 EST
Getty Images

How Automated Wars Rob Us Of Humanity

Militaries, and the U.S. military in particular, envisions a future where weapons do the thinking -- that is, planning, target selection and engagement. If we are not careful about the increasing push towards autonomous weapons, we may lose our very humanity in the process.
04/30/2013 12:08 EDT
Fox News Sunday

The Short Slide From Drones to Despotism

The U.S. saddles up its moral high horse and claims that drone attacks on U.S. citizens do not threaten the bedrock of individual rights and freedoms, but are done for the greater good. It is at best a legal farce and at worst detrimental to the rule of law in the U.S. (and possibly elsewhere).
02/11/2013 01:01 EST
AP

A Q&A on Syria: How Strong is Assad?

Recently, I was approached to give an interview by a rather right-leaning foreign news program. It may be no surprise, but our visions did not fit together. The news show, however, sent me a list of questions about the future of Syria, the Assad regime, and the prospects of the newly unified Syrian opposition. Here are my answers.
11/16/2012 07:50 EST

When U.S. Weapons are Autonomous, Who is Responsible?

The U.S. Department of Defense wants to enlarge the U.S. military's reliance on autonomous (i.e. self-directed) weapons in conflict. But a mission is not a person, it is a thing, and things cannot be held morally responsible. It is like saying that you want to hold your car responsible for breaking down on the way to work. You wouldn't say that your car "wronged" you, and you wouldn't seek to punish your car. Such a position on the ethics of autonomous systems reduces any questions of morality or responsibility.
09/27/2012 12:08 EDT
AP

Who Is Responsible for Syrian Refugees?

Recently, there has been much discussion about establishing a "safe haven" within Syria's borders to protect the growing number of refugees fleeing the country's civil war, which unfortunately have received little backing. Can we hold that bordering states have a duty to accept more fleeing Syrians? This is a tough call, as the international community is not helping the situation in any certain terms.
09/07/2012 07:49 EDT
Getty

Why Syria Will Never Be Libya

Unless Western powers, and not a ragtag group of rebels, are prepared for an on-the-ground invasion, we will continue to merely deplore what the Syrian regime is doing against its people.
10/26/2011 09:05 EDT