Mind the gap : the lack of accountability for killer robots
Human Rights Watch, International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC)
[S.l.] : Human Rights Watch, 2015
38 p. ; 31 cm
Mind the Gap details the significant hurdles to assigning personal accountability for the actions of fully autonomous weapons, or “killer robots.” This accountability gap stems from the fact the weapons would select and engage targets without meaningful human control, and is one of several important reasons why a ban is urgently needed. Military commanders or operators could be found guilty under criminal law if they deployed a fully autonomous weapon with the intent to commit a crime. But they would likely elude justice in the more common situation in which they could not foresee or prevent an autonomous robot’s unlawful act—such as targeting civilians, even if no human commander or programmer intended for the robot to do so. The obstacles to accountability would be equally high under civil law. Civil liability would be virtually impossible, at least in the United States, due to the immunity granted by law to the military and its contractors and the evidentiary obstacles to products liability suits. Many other countries have similar systems of sovereign immunity. Even if successful, a civil suit would have limited effectiveness as a tool for accountability. While monetary damages can assist victims, they are not a substitute for criminal accountability in terms of deterrence, retributive justice, and moral stigma.
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