The other side of autonomous weapons : using artificial intelligence to enhance IHL compliance
The impact of emerging technologies on the law of armed conflict
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2019
The role of autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI) in armed conflict has sparked heated debate. The resulting controversy has obscured the benefits of autonomy and AI for compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL). Compliance with IHL often hinges on situational awareness: information about a possible target’s behavior, nearby protected persons and objects, and conditions that might compromise the planner’s own perception or judgment. This paper argues that AI can assist in developing situational awareness technology (SAT) that will make target selection and collateral damage estimation more accurate, thereby reducing harm to civilians. This chapter breaks down SAT into three roles. Gatekeeper SAT ensures that operators have the information they need. Cancellation SAT can respond to contingent events, such as the unexpected presence of civilians. The most advanced system, behavioral SAT, can identify flaws in the targeting process and remedy confirmation bias. In each of these contexts, SAT can help fulfill IHL’s mandate of “constant care” in the avoidance of harm to civilian persons and objects.
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