INTL 5590 W7 Auto Weapon Discussion Response to Sarah & Nicholas

Week 7: Autonomous Weapon Discussion (Please write 200 words response to Sarah with one reference and 200 words response to Nicholas with one reference)


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Sarah S. (Please write 200 words response to Sarah with one reference)

When artificial intelligence (AI) is applied to weapon systems, there is a high potential that AI will be misused. Existing fully autonomous weapons, such as loitering munitions deployed to destroy the enemy’s radar and air-defense systems, are already capable of independently seeking and eliminating its targets. It concerns to think that it is only a matter of time (if not already) before an autonomous weapon is used to target humans. A fully autonomous weapon means that humans are not involved in the decision making and execution process.

An important question is if an autonomous weapon can be programmed to observe the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law. If an enemy or target surrenders, will that AI be able to distinguish that action and cease its attack, or will it continue to seek its target?

Another concern is the possibility of AI to be hacked. There is a constant battle between hackers and cybersecurity players. It is forever evolving and changing, and cyber protection is never perfect despite efforts. As our lecture stated, not a week goes by that we do not see an article or announcement that another agency has had cybersecurity issues.

My last concern would be the black market and weapon smugglers. If the technology leaked to cartels or terrorists, what could be done to stop the damage and destruction that would follow?



Nicholas H (Please write 200 words response to Nicholas with one reference)


After reading the reports on autonomous weapons, outline what you think are the main questions and concerns about such weapons/systems that we need to raise and, perhaps, answer.

Autonomous Weapons Systems are defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as “a weapon system(s) that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator.” (Pennsylvania Law, 2014) The use of autonomous weapons has the potential to completely change the nature of modern warfare along and poses many challenges to the effects of their use in war. The use of autonomous weapons can be attributed in the realm of cyber warfare for offensive, defensive, and artificial intelligence methods.

A major concern with the use of autonomous weapons would be the absence of human decision making in the use of these weapons. While humans may have a role in the operation with the weapons, there are factors such as moral decision making, human intuitive reasoning, and ethical decision making in the use of such weapons.

Another concern with AWS would be how can they be regulated through trade and manufacture. Will there be an influx of AWS flooding the black market and other outlets for illegal arms trade? How can the manufacture of the weapons be documented and limited? A solution to this concern would be the possibility of developing an organization who investigates and regulates the use and trade of AWS similar to the systems in place for nuclear weapons use and development.

The conflict of actually defining a AWS and classifying the specific weapons based on who operates them and the parameters measured for their actual use. What should be classified in the AWS category and how do they become regulated?

The idea of AWS seems promising in the developing technologies of warfare due to the advancement in weapon systems and possibly taking out the threat of human casualties due to needing less human combat. The absence of human combat through the utilization of AWS can also present a challenge as previously stated due to the lack of human psychological and moral decision making in combat scenarios. If there were issues in the use of AWS, who takes the blame for the decisions behind their use? How can the use of AWS be regulated so the possession of such weapons does not exceed threatening levels of destruction? Many of these questions need to be addressed prior to complete implementation of these weapons in present day warfare.


“The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems.” The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems: The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems • Penn Law, Pennsylvania Law, 21 Nov. 2014,

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