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Lethal Autonomous WeaponsRe-Examining the Law and Ethics of Robotic Warfare$
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Jai Galliott, Duncan MacIntosh, and Jens David Ohlin

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197546048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197546048.001.0001

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Programming Precision? Requiring Robust Transparency for AWS

Programming Precision? Requiring Robust Transparency for AWS

(p.73) 5 Programming Precision? Requiring Robust Transparency for AWS
Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Steven J. Barela

Avery Plaw

Oxford University Press

The possibility of allowing a machine agency over killing human beings is a justifiably concerning development, particularly when we consider the challenge of accountability in the case of illegal or unethical employment of lethal force. We have already seen how key information can be hidden or contested by deploying authorities, in the case of lethal drone strikes, for example. Therefore, this chapter argues that any effective response to autonomous weapons systems (AWS) must be underpinned by a comprehensive transparency regime that is fed by robust and reliable reporting mechanisms. This chapter offers a three-part argument in favor of a robust transparency regime. Firstly, there is a preexisting transparency gap in the deployment of core weapon systems that would be automated (such as currently remote-operated UCAVs). Second, while the Pentagon has made initial plans for addressing moral, ethical, and legal issues raised against AWS, there remains a need for effective transparency measures. Third, transparency is vital to ensure that AWS are only used with traceable lines of accountability and within established parameters. Overall this chapter argues that there is an overwhelming interest and duty for actors to ensure robust, comprehensive transparency, and accountability mechanisms. The more aggressively AWS are used, the more rigorous these mechanisms should be.

Keywords:   autonomous weapons systems, transparency, accountability, use of force, Just War Theory, humans, robots, values and technology

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