Robots at War: Scholars Debate the Ethical Issues

The dawn of the 21st century has been called the decade of the drone. Unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely operated by pilots in the United States, rain Hellfire missiles on suspected insurgents in South Asia and the Middle East.

Now a small group of scholars is grappling with what some believe could be the next generation of weaponry: lethal autonomous robots. …

From the website of the Chronicle of Higher Education


  1. Ain’t technology marvellous? I suppose that the public international law issues (the law of war) would be logical (if that’s the word) developments from the thinking about how autonomous robots fit into civil legal questions. I looked at some of those in a Slaw column here.

  2. To the extent that litigation is war by another means, autonomous robots might sometimes do a better job than counsel. At the least, they could be programmed to be responsive to questions from the bench or to the issues raised by the other side. It doesn’t take long for one to see too many instances where the “speeches” from both lawyers never connect, or answers to the judge’s questions aren’t answers to the question.

  3. David Collier-Brown

    We have some less dangerous robots in general use right now, blocking videos on the internet. One went so far as to block a live stream of Michell Obama from the Democratic National Convention.

    Instead of a video from, one received
    This video contains content from WMG, SME, Associated Press (AP),
    UMG, Dow Jones, New York Times Digital, the Harry Fox Agency,
    Inc. (HFA), Warner Chappell, UMPG Publishing and EMI Music
    Publishing, one or more of whom have blocked it in your country
    on copyright grounds.

    In this case it’s a private robotic judge, and one who doesn’t seem to listen to the the lawyers speaking to him, even when they’re on-subject!


  4. That wasn’t so much an AI as an FU.