Berlin 2014 – wissenschaftliches Programm

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AGA: Arbeitsgruppe Physik und Abrüstung

AGA 1: Drones, Autonomous Systems, and Conventional Weapons

AGA 1.2: Vortrag

Mittwoch, 19. März 2014, 15:00–15:30, UDL HS2002

Ban on Autonomous Weapons Systems -- Issues of Definition and Compliance — •Jürgen Altmann — Experimentelle Physik III, Technische Universität Dortmund

Armed uninhabited vehicles (up to now mostly in air) have many autonomous functions, but targeting and attack are controlled by a human operator via remote control at present. Various military motives drive the development towards autonomous attack. This perspective is frightening in several respects. In order to discuss about possible limitations, the State Parties of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons have decided in November 2013 to convene an expert committee in May 2014 and to receive a report by November 2014. In the end, a prohibition of autonomous attack may be added to the international law of warfare. This raises problems: 1. differentiation from already existing weapons systems with an automatic mode, e.g. for defence against aircraft or missiles, removal of which should not be demanded for easier acceptance; 2. monitoring compliance if remotely controlled armed UVs will not be prohibited simultaneously. The first could be solved by an appropriate definition of an autonomous weapon system and/or by demanding meaningful human control over each single weapon release, possibly with a list of systems or situations for which exceptions will hold. Since change from remote control to autonomous attack could be done by a simple (software) switch and verification of the actual control program will not be acceptable, advance verification is excluded. As with other rules of the laws of warfare (e.g. the prohibition of dum-dum bullets), compliance could be checked after the fact, maybe forensically. This could be supported by a secure record of the sensor and communication data, made available to a treaty implementing organisation on request.

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