Between the Species

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Ethics Group

Cal Poly's Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group focuses on the implications and impact of emerging sciences and technologies.
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Patrick Lin


Contact Information 


  • Ph.D., M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley


  • Director, Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly
  • Affiliate Scholar, Stanford Law School, Center for Internet and Society
  • Fulbright Specialist, University of Iceland, Centre for Arctic Policy Studies (2018)
  • Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Australia (2010-2016)
  • Visiting Associate Professor, Stanford University, School of Engineering (2013-2014)
  • Executive Director, International Association of Computing and Philosophy (2011-2012)
  • Ethics Fellow, US Naval Academy, VADM Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership (2009-2010)
  • Post-Doctoral Associate, Dartmouth College (2006-2009)


  • Member, Karel Čapek Center for Values in Science and Technology
  • Member, World Economic Forum, Global Future Council on AI and Robotics
  • Standing Committee Member, 100 Year Study on Artificial Intelligence, Stanford HAI
  • Member, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) expert group on autonomous weapons
  • Research Director, Consortium for Emerging Technologies, Military Operations, and National Security (CETMONS)
  • Member, Emerging Technologies of National Security and Intelligence (ETNSI) initiative, University of Notre Dame, Reilly Center

Professional Interests

  • Applied and theoretical ethics
  • Social and political philosophy
  • Other areas, especially as they relate to science and technology

Publications (selected)

Access to full text: Cal Poly's Digital Commons and Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group website.

  • "Arctic 2.0: How AI Can Help Develop a Frontier", Ethics & International Affairs (Summer 2019)
  • "The Moral Gray Space of AI Decisions", Harvard Kennedy School (Dec 2018)
  • "Robot Ethics 2.0: From Autonomous Cars to Artificial Intelligence", co-edited with Ryan Jenkins and Keith Abney (Oxford University Press, Sept 2017)
  • "Ethics of Hacking Back: 6 Arguments from Armed Conflict to Zombies", funded by the US National Science Foundation (Sept 2016)
  • “Why Ethics Matters For Autonomous Cars”, Autonomous Driving (Springer, 2015).
  • “Super Soldiers,” (parts 1 and 2), Global Issues and Ethical Concerns in Human Enhancement Technologies, co-authored with Keith Abney and Maxwell Mehlman (IGI Global, 2014).
  • “Military Neuroenhancement and Risk Assessment,” Neuroscience and Neurotechnology in National Security and Defense: Practical Considerations, Ethical Concerns, co-authored with Keith Abney and Maxwell Mehlman (Taylor & Francis Group, 2014).
  • “Is Warfare the Right Frame for the Cyber Debate,” The Ethics of Information Warfare, co-authored with Fritz Allhoff and Keith Abney (Springer, 2014).
  • “Ethics, War, and Robots,” Ethics and Emerging Technologies, co-authored with Keith Abney and George Bekey (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013).
  • “Enhanced Warfighters: A Policy Framework,” Military Medical Ethics for the 21st Century, co-authored with Maxwell Mehlman and Keith Abney (Ashgate, 2013).
  • “War 2.0: Cyberweapons and Ethics,” Communications of the ACM, March 2012, vol. 55, no. 3: 24-26, co-authored with Fritz Allhoff and Neil Rowe.
  • Enhanced Warfighters: Risk, Ethics, and Policy, co-authored with Maxwell Mehlman and Keith Abney, funded by The Greenwall Foundation (January 2013).
  • Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics, co-edited with George Bekey and Keith Abney (MIT Press, January 2012).
  • “Robot Ethics: Mapping the Issues for a Mechanized World," Artificial Intelligence, April 2011, vol. 175, no. 5-6: 942-949.
  • “Ethical Blowback from Emerging Technologies,” Journal of Military Ethics, December 2010, vol. 9, no. 4: 313-331.
  • What Is Nanotechnology and Why Does It Matter?: From Science to Ethics, co-authored with Fritz Allhoff and Daniel Moore (Wiley-Blackwell, March 2010).
  • Ethics of Human Enhancement: 25 Questions & Answers, co-authored with Fritz Allhoff, James Moor, and John Weckert, funded by US National Science Foundation (August 2009).
  • Autonomous Military Robotics: Risk, Ethics, and Design, co-authored with Keith Abney and George Bekey, funded by US Department of Defense/Office of Naval Research (December 2008).
  • “Untangling the Debate: The Ethics of Human Enhancement,” NanoEthics: Ethics for Technologies that Converge at the Nanoscale, December 2008, no. 3: 251-264.
  • Nanotechnology & Society: Current and Emerging Ethical Issues, edited by Patrick Lin and Fritz Allhoff (Springer, April 2008).
  • Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology, edited by Patrick Lin, Fritz Allhoff, James Moor and John Weckert (Wiley, August 2007).
  • “Nanotechnology Bound: Evaluating the Case for More Regulation,” NanoEthics: Ethics for Technologies that Converge at the Nanoscale, August 2007, no. 2: 105-122.
  • “Space Ethics: Look Before Taking Another Leap for Mankind,” Astropolitics, Winter 2006, vol. 4, no. 3: 281-294.
  • “What's So Special About Nanotechnology and Nanoethics?” International Journal of Applied Philosophy, Fall 2006, vol. 20, no. 2: 179-190, co-authored with Fritz Allhoff.
  • “Nanotech in Global Security & Economics: Shifting Political and Economic Winds, or a Firestorm of Change?” (2006), Genetic Engineering News, vol. 26, issue 9: 6, co-authored with Brian Wang.

Presentations and Meetings Organized (selected)

  • "Algorithmic Bias in Autonomous Vehicles: What Is It Exactly?", Autonomous Vehicle Ethics: Beyond the Trolley Problem conference, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, 27 June 2019.
  • "AI in Defense and Security: Ethics and First Principles", Autonomous Security Systems conference, University of Zurich, 3 May 2019.
  • Panel: AI Ethics, DARPA AI Colloquium, 6 March 2019
  • "Ethics of Space Exploration: To Boldy Go…But Also Thoughtfully", MIT Media Lab, Space Exploration Initiative, 5 Oct 2018.
  • "Discrimination 2.0: How to Think About Bias in Ethical Programming", MIT Media Lab, Scalable Cooperation, 4 Oct 2018.
  • "Ethical and Social Implications of Connected and Automated Vehicles", half-day ethics session, Automated Vehicles Symposium, San Francisco, 9-12 July 2018.
  • "AI Decisions, Risk, and Ethics", keynote at AAAI/ACM's AI, Ethics and Society conference, New Orleans, 3 February 2018.
  • "World Economic Forum's annual meeting of the Global Future Councils", Dubai, UAE, 11-12 November 2017 (presenter, panelist, and participant).
  • "Autonomous Systems and Ethics", keynote at the National Academy of Engineering's annual conference, Washington DC, 8 October 2017.
  • "Ethics of Cyberwarfare and Artificial Intelligence", workshop organized at the University of Iceland, 1-3 August 2017.
  • "International Association for Computing and Philosophy 2017 Conference", Stanford University, 26-29 June 2017.
  • "Beneficial AI 2017", Future of Life Institute, Asilomar, California, 3-8 January 2017 (participant only).
  • "Conference: Developing a Normative Framework for Cyberwarfare", US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, 17-18 October 2016.
  • "Ethics of Connected and Autonomous Systems", European Intelligence and Security Informatics Conference, Uppsala, Sweden, 19 August 2016.
  • "Ethical and Social Implications of Automated Vehicles", half-day ethics session, Automated Vehicles Symposium, San Francisco, 1 July 2016.
  • "Robot Cars, Risk and Ethics: Lessons for Artificial Intelligence", RSA Security Conference, San Francisco, 1 March 2016.
  • "Ethics of Autonomous Systems: Avoiding Landmines on a Future Product Roadmap", Apple HQ, Cupertino, 7 December 2015.
  • "Convergent Technologies, Divergent Responses? Autonomous Weapons, Cyber, and AI", workshop organized at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), Geneva, Switzerland, 9-10 November 2015.
  • "Autonomous Vehicles and Ethics", workshop organized at Stanford University, Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), 14-15 September 2015.
  • “The Right to Life and the Martens Clause”, United Nations, Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) expert meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems, Geneva, Switzerland, 16 April 2015.
  • “Ethics of Autonomous Military Systems”, Stanford University, Computer Science Department, 14 November 2014.
  • “Technology and Journalism: Ethical Challenges in the 21st Century,” California Polytechnic State University, Journalism Ethics Symposium, San Luis Obispo, 10 October 2014.
  • “Disruptive Technologies and Ethics: Why Google Should Care About Broader Social Implications,” Google, Mountain View, CA, 13 May 2014.
  • “Ethics and Autonomous Cars,” Nissan Research Center, 27 February 2014; Bosch Research and Technology Center, 28 April 2014; Tesla Motors, 29 April 2014.
  • “Autonomous Cars: Why Ethics Matters, and How to Think About It,” Daimler and Benz Foundation’s ‘Villa Ladenburg’ Project, Monterey, California, 21 February 2014.
  • “The Future of the Automobile: A Crash Course in Ethics,” Stanford University, Mechanical Engineering Department, 3 February 2014.
  • “Why the Drone Wars Matter for Automated Cars: Ethics Lessons from Recent History,” Stanford Law School and School of Engineering, 12 December 2013.
  • “Military AI and Ethics,” Stanford University, Computer Science Department, 14 November 2013.
  • “Ethics of Autonomous Cars: A Roadmap of Philosophical, Legal, and Social Issues,” Stanford University, School of Engineering, Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), 6 November 2013 .
  • “Military Enhancements: Do They Violate International Humanitarian Law?” Stanford Law School, Center for Law and the Biosciences, 22 January 2013.
  • “Cyber-Conflict: Issues in Ethics and Policy,” Chautauqua Council, New York, 30 July 2012.
  • “War Robots: Issues in Ethics and Policy," UCLA Hammer Forum, 24 July 2012.
  • “Military Enhancements,” Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics workshop on emerging technologies and ethics of war, Canberra (Australia), 14 June 2012.
  • “Robot Ethics: Mapping the Field,” Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Canberra (Australia), 13 June 2012.
  • “Robots, Ethics, and National Intelligence,” In-Q-Tel (CIA) Technology Focus Day, Arlington, VA, 9 November 2011.
  • “Emerging Military Technologies and Society: A Survey of Challenges,” National Academies/DARPA workshop on military technologies, UC Irvine, 31 August 2011.
  • “Military Human Enhancements: On the Frontlines of Science and Society,” Brocher-Hastings Summer Academy, Brocher Foundation (Switzerland), 7 July 2011.
  • “Informational Warfare: Exposing the Fuzzy Logic in International Law,” UNESCO-sponsored workshop on informational warfare, University of Hertfordshire (UK), 1 July 2011.
  • “Soldier 2.0: How Engineering a Better Warfighter Disrupts Society,” Society for Philosophy and Technology, University of North Texas, 28 May 2011.
  • “Philosophical Collaboration: A Case Study in Technology Ethics (or: How to Herd Cats),” American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division meeting, 22 April 2011.
  • “Military Blowback: Ethics, Emerging Technologies, and Society,” US Air Force Academy, McDermott Lecture, 14 March 2011.
  • “Military 2.0: Ethical Issues in Robotics and Human Enhancement,” Harvard University, Humanity+ Summit 2010, 13 June 2010.
  • “Enhanced Warfighters: Ethical and Social Implications,” US Naval Academy, Vice Admiral Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership's 2010 McCain conference, 22 April 2010.
  • “Against Gene Patenting: Debunking the Argument Based on Incentives,” Leadership San Luis Obispo seminar series, 14 August 2009.
  • “War Robots: What are the Risks and Ethical Issues?” Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) 2009 conference, 7 March 2009.
  • “Nanotechnology and the Environment,” Univ. of Delaware/Delaware Biotechnology Institute, Environmental Nanoparticles: Science, Ethics, and Policy conference, 11 Nov 2008.
  • “Superman vs. Frankenstein's Monster: The Debate on Human Enhancement Technologies,” International Congress of Nanotechnology, San Francisco, 6 Nov 2007.
  • “The Rise of Nanoethics: Emerging Issues in Nanotechnology and Society,” Yale University, Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, 10 Oct 2007.
  • “Introduction to Nanoethics,” University of California at Davis, Responsible Conduct of Research program, 4 May 2007.
  • “Nanotechnology and Energy: How It Can Help and the Challenges It Faces,” The San Francisco Exploratorium's nanotechnology podcast series “Small Talk”, 16 April 2007.
  • “Understanding the Debate: A Critical Look at Reasons For and Against More Regulation in Nanotechnology,” California Environmental Protection Agency's (Cal/EPA) nanotechnology symposium, 8 March 2007.
  • “Finding Reasons: A Critical Look at Recent Pro-Enhancement Arguments,” Human Enhancement Technologies and Human Rights, Stanford University, 27 May 2006.
  • “Space Ethics: Look Before Taking Another Leap for Mankind,” International Space Development Conference, Los Angeles, 5 May 2006.

Media Articles (selected)

Grant Funding (selected)

  • Sony Research Award (2019-2020): AI and robot ethics
  • Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (2018-2019): AI in the emerging Arctic
  • US Department of State, Fulbright Specialist Award (2018): future Arctic conflicts
  • National Science Foundation (2015-2017): autonomous vehicles
  • National Science Foundation (2013-2017): cyberwarfare
  • The Greenwall Foundation (2011-2013): military human enhancement
  • Office of Naval Research (2008-2009): autonomous military robotics
  • Office of Naval Research (2007-2008): autonomous military robotics
  • National Science Foundation (2006-2009): nanotechnology and human enhancement

Service (selected)

  • Advisor on technology ethics to major governmental, policy, and industry organizations
  • Associate editor or board member of several respected journals in technology ethics and law
  • Referee for several major publishers and funding agencies
  • Chair or member of several Cal Poly university, college, and department committees, incl. Science Technology & Society program
  • Chair or member of several planning committees for ethics conferences and workshops

Awards (selected)

  • Cal Poly/Academic Senate, Distinguished Scholarship Award (2017)
  • American Philosophical Association’s Public Philosophy Op-Ed Award (2015)
  • Cal Poly/College of Liberal Arts, Outstanding Scholarship Award (2009)

Courses Taught (selected)

  • PHIL 334: Philosophy of Law
  • PHIL 323: Ethics, Science, and Technology
  • PHIL 322: Philosophy of Technology
  • PHIL 231: Philosophical Classics - Ethics & Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 101: Introduction to Philosophy
  • Other courses under development, esp. in technology ethics

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