This article considers how military lawyers completing weapon reviews might approach their legal duties if confronted with a weapon system that incorporates autonomous technology or artificial intelligence. The article begins by reviewing current and likely near future technological capabilities before considering whether existing international humanitarian law can adequately regulate these technologies. While noting the widespread lack of compliance with Article 36 of Additional Protocol I, the article argues that, properly applied, Article 36 is an effective gatekeeper for keeping unlawful weapon systems from the battlefield. After assessing the feasibility of a preemptive ban on autonomous weapons based on “meaningful human control,” the article argues that “authorized power” provides a better option for regulating future technology within existing international law.
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