Lethal autonomous robotics: Rethinking the dehumanization of warfare

Warren, A and Hillas, A 2018, 'Lethal autonomous robotics: Rethinking the dehumanization of warfare', UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 1-28.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Lethal autonomous robotics: Rethinking the dehumanization of warfare
Author(s) Warren, A
Hillas, A
Year 2018
Journal name UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs
Volume number 22
Issue number 2
Start page 1
End page 28
Total pages 28
Publisher University of California - School of Law
Abstract To date, leading diplomats and policy-makers have resisted calls to ban Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). In the absence of international regulation, nation states will need to determine their own responses to the legal accountability questions that LAWS pose. While there are momentous challenges associated with the attainment of moral agency in a legal, political and technical sense, the 'dehumanization' of warfare is clearly on an upward trajectory, and will need to be monitored. The expanding number of roles that robots can perform is already being factored into states' planning and procurement. Owing to its superpower status, decisions made within the United States will influence and define the new global strategic context of 'dehumanized' force structures incorporating LAWS. While we acknowledge that the notion of autonomous robotics being held accountable for their own actions will remain an ongoing challenge, the article considers the U.S. military justice system to be closely related to its civilian counterpart. As the civilian domain is expected to grapple with distributed layers of responsibility in new technologies, like self-driving vehicles, that can injure or kill people, it is clear that both legal systems overall will need to transition toward a position in which machine intelligence is foreseen to approach that of humans, that will need constant adaptation. In seeking to provide guidance to practitioners, the article recommends revisiting any lessons learned from Military Working Dog (MWD) Teaming that may be applicable to the establishment of training programs and manuals for LAWS operators.
Subject International Relations
Keyword(s) Autonomous Weapons
International Law
International Security
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ISSN 1089-2605
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