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Where to draw the line: Increasing Autonomy in Weapon Systems – Technology and Trends

This report looks at weapons systems with varying degrees of autonomy in the selection and engaging of targets.

‘Where to draw the line’ shows the trend towards increasing autonomy in weapon systems by identifying a number of systems which have the ability to select and attack targets with automated ‘critical’ functions. These weapons include loitering munitions, unmanned bomber aircraft as well automated ground systems with varying levels of human control. This briefing paper illustrates that key autonomous features are rapidly emerging and becoming key aspects of tomorrow’s weapons.

Find the original publication on the PAX website here.

Weapon systems with no meaningful human control over the critical functions raise various legal, ethical and security concerns. Can these weapons comply with international humanitarian law? Can they can distinguish between soldiers and civilians, and ascertain whether an attack is proportional? Would these weapons lower the threshold to use armed violence? What happens if dictators or terrorists get hold of these weapons? Who is responsible if something goes wrong? And what is the impact on human rights if police forces also use such technology?


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