Podcast: Lt. Col. Tim Goines on “Ethics and the New Technologies of War: AI and Cyber”

Today’s podcast is the newest episode of our series from Duke’s 28th Annual National Security Law Conference.  It features the Air Force Academy’s Lt Col Tim Goines who gives us a really interesting presentation on Ethics and the New Technologies of War: AI and Cyber” 

Tim brilliantly describes the mindset one must have to lawyer in the tech space especially.  Among other things, he’s an enthusiastic advocate of what I think is a critical concept in any kind of practice, but especially with respect to today’s high-tech world: the importance of understanding the client’s ‘business’ so to speak.  He says:

“So my thesis today is that understanding technology is an ethical imperative for practitioners and policymakers in the realm of national security. In other words, we can’t just keep our heads in the sand.

And while the attorney doesn’t have to be qualified to design the system, some familiarity with the technology will help them keep up with the conversation and be better lawyers.”

Tim makes the case clearly when he later says;

“There’s a practical reason on why you want to understand the technology. For example, if you don’t know how a cyber exploit works, how would you be able to advise a cyber operator how do it lawfully, what rules it has to comply with, or whether you could actually deduce if it complies with domestic, international law, or the authorities that have been granted to you?”

At another point he discusses is ABA Model Rule 1.3:

“The rule states that “a lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.” If you don’t understand the technology, usually, this rule is always focused on the second part, the promptness in representing the client. It’s all about returning phone calls and making sure you’re staying in contact with them.”

“But you also have to do reasonable diligence. You have to have reasonable diligence. And when you think about it, if you don’t understand the technology, how do you know the things that you need to be diligent about, and how do you know the things you don’t need to be diligent about?”

“The next one is perhaps my favorite. This is rule 2.1, Advisor. It says, ‘In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. 

In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to the law, but to other considerations, such as moral, economic, social, political factors that may be relevant in a client’s situation.'”

“This is important. Notice the rule is called Advisor. It’s not called Legal Advisor. It’s called Advisor.”

“In other words, the law, the rule, contemplates that we go beyond just seeing– simply being encyclopedias of legal knowledge, especially when law is literally at their fingertips. Our job is to go beyond the law. It’s to give them sort of a more comprehensive view, taking in a lot of different factors and giving them advice, considering all those factors.”

This really is just a very brief sampling of the many insights Tim shared with the audience, but what was especially valuable about his presentation was that in the latter portion he also outlined some of the substantive matters lawyers need to understand about cyber and AI. 

You will really learn a lot if you spend an hour listening to this one!

Again, the video for your listening/watching is found here.

About the author:

Lt Col Timothy M. Goines serves as a Senior Military Faculty and Assistant Professor of Law, United States Air Force Academy, where he teaches Cyberlaw, Law for Air Force Officers, and the Legal Studies Capstone Course.  He also serves as the Director of USAFA’s Law, Technology, and Warfare Research Cell.  He graduated Summa  Cum Laude from Creighton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. In May 2009, Lt Col Goines graduated Cum Laude from Baylor University, School of Law.

Lt Col Goines received a Master of Laws Degree in Cyber, Space, and Telecommunications Law at the University of Nebraska Law School in May 2016. In February 2017, he completed his Masters of Arts Degree in Military Operational Art and Science (with Highest Academic Distinction) from Air Command and Staff College.


The views and opinions expressed here are the speaker’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Department of Defense, or any other agency of the U.S. government.

The views expressed by guest speakers do not necessarily reflect my views or those of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, or Duke University.  See also here.

Remember what we like to say on Lawfire®: gather the facts, examine the law, evaluate the arguments – and then decide for yourself! 

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