Return from break will bring a week of educational activities

Valpo students have volunteered with The American Red Cross and are working to host Rules of War Week. In partnership with the Red Cross International Humanitarian law Youth Action Campaign, the event will take place after Thanksgiving break, from Monday, Dec. 2nd through Friday, Dec. 6th.

Valpo students from Professor Amy Atchinson’s International Regimes and Global Governance class have been planning for the event over the course of the semester.

The purpose of the event is to broaden the general understanding of autonomous weapons systems and artificial intelligence (AI), discussing how these technologies function to impact mankind and influence change.

“We will be able to teach peers about International humanitarian law,” said senior international relations major Abbey Zombik, the Lead Advocate of the event, in reference to the goal of this event. 

Autonomous weapons systems and AI don’t have the best image in pop culture, as referenced by the countless movies - Terminator, I Robot, or Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few - where “evil” AI systems begin to actively plot the death of humans.

However, the goal of the Red Cross event is to show that the autonomous weapons system and AI are unlike their pop-culture personas, as they’re hoping to stomp out some rumors and show the real aspect of the technology and how it can be and is applied to warfare. 

“We have learned how complex this teaching is, but also how important, no matter the age of the audience,” Zombik said. 

When students return from Thanksgiving break, the organization will have three different projects available for the campus community to participate in.

The first activity will be an interactive board displaying different types of information about autonomous weapons systems and AI. This board will be located outside of the cafe.

The second activity will be a movie show, which will happen twice during the week on Dec. 3rd at 11 a.m. and on Dec. 4th at 6 p.m. in the tiered classroom in the back of the community center of the library. 

The movie shown will be “Eye in the Sky,” a film about two high ranking military officials facing political opposition after launching a drone strike on suicide bombers in Kenya. The movie was made to show the ethical challenges of drone warfare, which fits the topic of the Red Cross event. 

“[The movie will help] show the community what autonomous weapons are capable of,” Zombik said. 

The last event will be a live simulation. Taking place in the community center of the library, participants will be split into six groups, with half of each group being “civilians” and half being “hostiles.” 

The goal is to see which group makes it to the end of the simulation. This event will be held on Dec. 5th at 10 a.m. and Dec. 6th at 3 p.m. and will last about four hours.

“We’re excited to see people get the experience of what an autonomous weapon system is,” Zombik said. The goal of the simulation is to depict how AI detects and treats threats as opposed to non-threats.

Overall, Rules of War Week is focused on discussing the topic of war crimes, and how war crimes have progressed over the years.

“The group has done an incredible job,” Zombik said. 

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