In this episode Dr Lauren Sanders speaks with Associate Professor Shiri Krebs about cognitive biases inherent in targeting operations and what that means for compliance with the laws of armed conflict.
The increased reliance on intelligence feeds from various remote sensors, and the fusion of these sensor feeds to make targeting decisions provides opportunity to entrench cultural and cognitive biases in armed conflict. Equally, the labels and interpretations ascribed to these sensor feeds impact the after action reviews, or fact finding or investigative processes that follow an engagement that results in civilian casualties. There have been many studies undertaken that demonstrate that data coming from machines is changes when it is interpreted by humans, and interpreted from that human’s cognitive and cultural frame, but what is the impact of this kind of bias in the context of targeting operations and compliance with LOAC?
Shiri is an Associate Professor T Deakin University’s Law Faculty, as well as the Co-lead of the Law and Policy Theme in the Australian Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (CSCRC). In 2022 she was elected Chair of the Lieber Society on the Laws of Armed Conflict Chair (with the American Society of International Law), and she is an affiliated scholar at Stanford University’s Centre for International Security and cooperation (CISAC). Associate Professor Krebs has written and published broadly on algorithmic bias and drone data vulnerabilities, data privacy, and human-machine interaction in technology-assisted legal decision-making, at the intersection of law, science and technology. She teaches the outcomes of her work in many fora – including to governments and militaries; and her paper, “The Effects of Visual Evidence on the Application of International Humanitarian Law: A behavioural approach”, was awarded the 2021 David D. Caron Prize, awarded by the American Society of International Law.
Special thanks to Rosie Cavdarski for editing.
Shiri Krebs, ‘Drone-Cinema, Data Practices, and the Narrative of IHL’ (2022) 82(2) Heidelberg Journal of International Law (forthcoming August 2022). Shiri Krebs, ‘Predictive Technologies and Opaque Epistemology in Counter-Terrorism Decision-Making’ in 9/11 and the Rise of Global Anti-Terrorism Law (Kim Lane Scheppele and Arianna Vedaschi, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2021), 199-221.
Shiri Krebs, ‘The Invisible Frames Affecting Wartime Investigations: Legal Epistemology, Metaphors, and Cognitive Biases’ in International Law’s Invisible Frames (Andrea Bianchi and Moshe Hirsch, eds., Oxford University Press, 2021), 124-140. ( recently shortlisted for the Australian Legal Research Awards (Article/Chapter (ECR) Category)).
Gavin Sullivan, 'Law, technology and data-driven security: infra-legalities as method assemblage, Journal of Law and Society, 2022
Fleur Johns - Data detection and the redistribution of the sensible in international law, 2017
Donna Haraway, 'Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Question of Partial Perspective, Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 575-599.
Harvard Implicit Bias Test: