Autonome våbensystemer i danske våbenscreeninger : Nye udfordringer og krav til implementeringen af den folkeretlige våbenscreeningsforpligtelse
Copenhagen : Djøf Publishing : Centre for Military Studies, 2021
98 p. ; 24 cm.
Autonomous weapons systems and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly commonplace on modern battlefields. However, these systems raise a host of unresolved challenges in relation to compliance with the law of armed conflict. Although the legal debate about autonomous weapons systems has primarily evolved around the challenges related to their use – not least their alleged lack of ability to comply with the principles of distinction and proportionality – it is becoming increasingly clear that they also pose a number of challenges to the conduct of legal reviews under art. 36 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions and customary international law. Based on a thorough review of the technical aspects of autonomy in weapons systems and the various formal and material requirements to the Danish weapons review procedure, the report identifies a number of challenges that are unique to the conduct of reviews of autonomous weapons systems due to their ability to select and engage targets without the need for human input after activation as well as the complex technology that enables these functions. It becomes apparent that these challenges relate to almost all aspects of weapons reviews and raise a need to reconsider and adjust the review process in order to ensure that it remains effective and sufficient to fulfil the goal of preventing unlawful weapons systems from entering the battlefield. Perhaps most importantly, the lack of foreseeability, explainability and transparency of autonomous weapons (particularly AI-enabled autonomous weapons systems) significantly increases the need for comprehensive test and evaluation procedures and mechanisms for monitoring changes in the system due to self-learning and adaption processes. This will not only be costly and time consuming, the increasing technical complexity of autonomous weapons will also raise a considerable need for education and training of specialised personnel.The report further concludes that the delegation of critical functions to the weapons system is a factor that will have significant impact on legal reviews as it triggers a need to consider targeting rules and not least mechanisms for ensuring effective and sufficient exercise of human control with the choice and engagement of targets as part of the review. On the basis of the challenges identified, the report puts forward a number of recommendations aimed at preparing the Danish review procedure and the responsible authorities for the incremental, yet substantial, changes that will materialize as AI-enabled technologies mature and find their way into a growing number of weapons systems. Firstly, the report recommends a revision of the organisational structure and composition of the review mechanism in order to substantiate the development and maintenance of the required level of expertise and enable smooth access to and inclusion of all relevant knowledge and categories of specialised personnel, including legal, technical, medical, environmental and operational experts. Secondly, the report recommends the establishment of a separate, enhanced review procedure for autonomous weapons in order to ensure that all new weapons systems capable of selecting and engaging targets without the need for human intervention are subjected to particularly careful scrutiny from the onset of the review process regardless the degree of autonomy of the system. Thirdly, it is recommended that significant resources are allocated to test and evaluation efforts as this area will be crucial to effective weapons reviews in the future. This includes training and education of personnel as well as development of test and evaluation procedures and facilities. Fourthly, it is recommended that the relevant Danish authorities, particular the Danish Logistic and Acquisitions Organisation, The Defence Command and the Ministry of Defence, initiate a focused dialogue with the defence industry in order to explore possibilities for cooperation in relation to test and evaluation of autonomous weapons systems. Lastly, the report recommends strengthening of regional and international cooperation in the area of legal reviews of autonomous weapons systems through dialogue and engagement in research projects and partnerships.
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