An Evaluation Schema for the Ethical Use of Autonomous Robotic Systems in Security Applications

Markus Christen, Thomas Burri, Joseph O. Chapa, Raphael Salvi, Filippo Santoni de Sio, John Sullins
2017 Social Science Research Network  
Introduction Information technology has become a decisive element in modern warfare, in particular when armed forces of developed countries are involved. Modern weapon systems would not function without sophisticated computing power, but also the planning and executing of military operations in general heavily rely on information technology. In addition, armed forces, but also police, border control and civil protection organizations increasingly rely on robotic systems with growing autonomous
more » ... growing autonomous capacities. This poses tactical and strategic, but also ethical and legal issues that are of particular relevance when procurement organizations are evaluating such systems for security applications. In order to support the evaluation of such systems from an ethical perspective, this report presents an evaluation schema for the ethical use of autonomous robotic systems in security applications, which also considers legal aspects to some degree. The focus is on two types of applications: First, systems whose purpose is not to destroy objects or to harm people (e.g. rescue robots, surveillance systems); although weaponization cannot be excluded. Second, systems that deliberately possess the capacity to harm people or destroy objects -both defensive and offensive, lethal and non-lethal systems. The cyber-domain where autonomous systems also are increasingly used (software agents, specific types of cyber weapons etc.) has been excluded from this analysis. The research that has resulted in this report outlines the most important evaluations and scientific publications that are contributing to the international debate on the regulation of autonomous systems in the security context, in particular in the case of so-called lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). The goal of the research is twofold: First, it should support the procurement of security/defense systems, e.g. to avoid reputation risks or costly assessments for systems that are ethically problematic and entail political risks. Second, the research should contribute to the international discussion on the use of autonomous systems in the security context (e.g.
doi:10.2139/ssrn.3063617 fatcat:7gen24bhtjdmdcc5nv35sxk4oe