Accession Number:

AD1120843

Title:

Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems: Can Targeting Occur Without Ethical Decision-Making?

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Research Paper]

Corporate Author:

NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2019-05-30

Pagination or Media Count:

39

Abstract:

The rise in capability of lethal autonomous weapons systems has led to a backlash against their use on both legal and ethical grounds. While the academic literature evinces a general ethical objection to the employment of lethal autonomous weapons, the specific nature of that objection is not clearly explored. Opponents agree that the use of lethal autonomous weapons crosses a moral line however, they do not elucidate where that line is drawn. This paper argues that the moral line is crossed when lethal autonomous weapons systems are given ethical agency to make life or death decisions free of human input. Furthermore, the legal objections raised to lethal autonomous weapons systems are not inherently legal instead, they are based on this ethical objection applied to the legal context. Given this underlying objection to lethal autonomous weapons systems being given moral agency, this paper analyzes whether non-ethical lethal autonomous weapons systems i.e. systems that are not allowed to make any ethical decisions can comply with international humanitarian law in a way that is still militarily useful. It concludes that non-ethical lethal autonomous weapons systems would be able to comply with international humanitarian law in specific situations, specifically, in near-peer particularly near-peer maritime combat.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Sociology and Law

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]