Killer robots

Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1):62–77 (2007)
The United States Army’s Future Combat Systems Project, which aims to manufacture a “robot army” to be ready for deployment by 2012, is only the latest and most dramatic example of military interest in the use of artificially intelligent systems in modern warfare. This paper considers the ethics of a decision to send artificially intelligent robots into war, by asking who we should hold responsible when an autonomous weapon system is involved in an atrocity of the sort that would normally be described as a war crime. A number of possible loci of responsibility for robot war crimes are canvassed; the persons who designed or programmed the system, the commanding officer who ordered its use, the machine itself. I argue that in fact none of these are ultimately satisfactory. Yet it is a necessary condition for fighting a just war, under the principle of jus in bellum, that someone can be justly held responsible for deaths that occur in the course of the war. As this condition cannot be met in relation to deaths caused by an autonomous weapon system it would therefore be unethical to deploy such systems in warfare.
Keywords ethics  robotics  military robotics  artificial intelligence
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2007.00346.x
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,831
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Thomas Nagel (1972). War and Massacre. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (2):123-144.
Robert Sparrow (2004). The Turing Triage Test. Ethics and Information Technology 6 (4):203-213.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 39 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

108 ( #21,603 of 1,724,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #64,701 of 1,724,748 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.