Journal of Applied Philosophy 24 (1):62–77 (2007)

Authors
Robert Sparrow
Monash University
Abstract
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
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-5930.2007.00346.x
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References found in this work BETA

War and Massacre.Thomas Nagel - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (2):123-144.
The Turing Triage Test.Robert Sparrow - 2004 - Ethics and Information Technology 6 (4):203-213.

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Citations of this work BETA

Robots, Law and the Retribution Gap.John Danaher - 2016 - Ethics and Information Technology 18 (4):299–309.
The Philosophical Case for Robot Friendship.John Danaher - forthcoming - Journal of Posthuman Studies.
Mind the Gap: Responsible Robotics and the Problem of Responsibility.David J. Gunkel - 2020 - Ethics and Information Technology 22 (4):307-320.
Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.Vincent C. Müller - 2020 - In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Palo Alto, Cal.: CSLI, Stanford University. pp. 1-70.

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