Stanford Law & policy review, Vol. 25, issue 2, June 2014, p. 317-339
George R. Lucas
In this Article, I review the military and security uses of robotics and "un-manned" or "uninhabited" (and sometimes "remotely piloted") vehicles in a number of relevant conflict environments that, in turn, raise issues of law and ethics that bear significantly on both foreign and domestic policy initatives. My treatment applies to the use of autonomous unmanned platforms in combat and low-intensity international conflict, but also offers guidance for the increased domestic uses of both remotely controlled and fully autonomous unmanned aerial, maritime, and ground systems for immigration control, border surveillance, drug interdiction, and domestic law enforcement. I outline the emerging debate concerning "robot morality" and computational models of moral cognition and examine the implications of this debate for the future reliability, safety, and effectiveness of autonomous systems that might come to be deployed in both domestic and international conflict situations. I summarize the lessons learned and the areas of provisional consensus reached thus far in this debate in the form of "soft-law" precepts that reflect emergent norms and a growing international consensus regarding the proper use and governance of such weapons.