Case Western Reserve journal of international law, Vol. 47, no. 1, 2015, p. 25-35
The debate over Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS) has begun in earnest with advocates for the absolute and immediate banning of AWS development, production, and use arguing AWS should be banned because these systems lack human qualities, such as the ability to relate to other humans and to apply human judgment, that are necessary to comply with the law. In addition, the weapons would not be constrained by the capacity for compassion, which can provide a key check on the killing of civilians. The opposing viewpoint in this debate articulates numerous arguments that generally include: it is far too premature and too speculative to make such a proposal/demand; the Law of Armed Conflict should not be underestimated in its ability to control AWS development and future operations; AWS has the potential to ultimately save human lives (both civilian and military) in armed conflicts; AWS is as inevitable as any other technology that could potentially make our lives better; and to pass on the opportunity to develop AWS is irresponsible from a national security perspective. The purpose of this article is to help refine the AWS debate.