Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges. Now rapid advances in technology are resulting in efforts to develop fully autonomous weapons. These robotic weapons would be able to choose and fire on targets on their own, without any human intervention. The Problem describes numerous ethical, legal, moral, policy, technical, and other concerns with fully autonomous weapons.
Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield is an unacceptable application of technology. Human control of any combat robot is essential to ensuring both humanitarian protection and effective legal control. A comprehensive, pre-emptive prohibition on fully autonomous weapons is urgently needed. The Solution outlines how a ban could be achieved through an international treaty, as well as through national laws and other measures.
In recent years, the benefits and dangers of fully autonomous weapons have been hotly debated by a relatively small community of specialists, including military personnel, scientists, roboticists, ethicists, philosophers, and lawyers. They have evaluated autonomous weapons from a range of perspectives, including military utility, cost, policy, and the ethics of delegating life-and-death decisions to a machine. Our Bibliography provides a list of recent publications about this challenge, while Statements contains documents issued by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.