Faculty Affiliation

Georgia Southern University


Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) are a special class of weapons systems that, once activated, can identify and engage a target without further human intervention. Semi-autonomous weapons are currently in use today, but the transfer of the decision to kill to machines inevitably raises novel ethical, legal, and political concerns. This paper examines the current ethical debate concerning LAWS use during wartime and outlines the potential security benefits and risks associated with the development of LAWS and other autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Allowing moral considerations to play a role in the development of AI weapons systems is crucial to upholding the principles of international humanitarian law. Depending on the degree of autonomy that a weapon has, it can pose distinct advantages and disadvantages that must be considered prior to deployment of the technology in dynamic combat settings. The transformative potential of LAWS in warfare cannot be ignored.