Conference Proceeding

The Artificial Conscience of Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Marketing Ruse or Reality?



Noto La Diega G (2020) The Artificial Conscience of Lethal Autonomous Weapons: Marketing Ruse or Reality?. In: Law and the Digital Age, Doha, Qatar, 19.02.2018-20.02.2018. Dubai: Lexis Middle East.

There are two interwoven trends in cyber-counterterrorism. On the one hand, countries such as Israel and Russia announce the deployment of lethal autonomous weapons. Such weapons constitute the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms. On the other hand, researchers try and embed ethics into the design of these weapons (so-called artificial conscience or "ethics by design"). The contention of this paper is that artificial conscience is a mere marketing ruse aimed at making the deployment of lethal autonomous weapons and other autonomous robots acceptable in society. Whereas there are strong reasons to object to this trend, some solutions to the pitfalls of ethics by design have been presented. However, they do not seem viable in a military context. In particular, the so-called customised-ethics approach is applicable only to commercial and civil machines. When deciding whether to kill 600 civilians in order to hit 14 al-Qaeda leaders, which set of values should be implemented? This is a compelling argument for banning lethal autonomous weapons altogether.

FundersNorthumbria University
Publication date31/05/2020
Publication date online01/05/2020
PublisherLexis Middle East
Place of publicationDubai
ConferenceLaw and the Digital Age
Conference locationDoha, Qatar

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