April 11, 2018

Human judgment and lethal decision-making in war

By Paul Scharre

For the fifth year in a row, government delegates meet at the United Nationsin Geneva to discuss autonomous weapons. Meanwhile, the technology that enables greater autonomy in weapons races forward. The speed of technological change is a major hurdle in tackling the challenges of autonomous weapons. While advocates for a ban argue that the international community must come together before it is too late, opponents of a ban can point to technological progress to argue that someday machines might outperform humans in warfare.

The pace of change presents more than just political hurdles, though; it is a major problem for any regulation or ban that would be based on the state of technology today. Even the most thoughtful regulations or prohibitions will not be able to foresee all of the ways that autonomous weapons could evolve over time. An alternative approach would be to focus on the unchanging element in war: the human. If we had all the technology in the world, what role would we want humans to play in war, and why? What decisions in war require uniquely human judgment, not because machines cannot make them, but because they shouldn’t?

Read the full article at The International Committee of the Red Cross

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