1st Edition

Killer Robots Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons

By Armin Krishnan Copyright 2009

    Military robots and other, potentially autonomous robotic systems such as unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) could soon be introduced to the battlefield. Look further into the future and we may see autonomous micro- and nanorobots armed and deployed in swarms of thousands or even millions. This growing automation of warfare may come to represent a major discontinuity in the history of warfare: humans will first be removed from the battlefield and may one day even be largely excluded from the decision cycle in future high-tech and high-speed robotic warfare. Although the current technological issues will no doubt be overcome, the greatest obstacles to automated weapons on the battlefield are likely to be legal and ethical concerns. Armin Krishnan explores the technological, legal and ethical issues connected to combat robotics, examining both the opportunities and limitations of autonomous weapons. He also proposes solutions to the future regulation of military robotics through international law.

    Introduction; The rise of military robotics; Weapons autonomy and artificial intelligence; The robotics revolution of warfare; The legality of autonomous weapons; Ethical considerations; Dangerous futures and arms control; Military robotics timeline; Bibliography; Index.


    Armin Krishnan is at the University of Texas at El Paso, USA

    'The prospect of intelligent machines rebelling against their human creators is an enduring preoccupation of Western popular culture. Yet most of us know little about the real capabilities of armed robots. In this highly original survey, Armin Krishnan explains the current state of the art in military robotics and explores the implications of the growing use of autonomous weapons. This study is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand the battlefield of the future.' Nikolas Gardner, USAF Air War College, USA 'The advent of military or "killer" robots raises profound issues for the future of warfare and arms control. This development, which has become possible due to the combination of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics and information technology, is the principal topic of this path-breaking book. It will therefore be of great significance to those interested in the ethical, legal and military debates about the future use of this technology.' Darryl Howlett, University of Southampton, UK 'Overall, Krishnan's book will be of interest to policymakers and concept developers looking for ideas and education on the 'killer robots' question. It will equally serve academic researchers as a text book for entering the field and as a departure point for their own work. The book would be a useful addition to libraries in applied philosophy, military systems engineering and security policy.' Australian Defence Force Journal 'Krishnan (Univ. of Texas, El Paso) presents one of the greatest ethical questions of modern warfare... This book would be useful for an undergraduate engineering ethics course; it could also accompany a graduate course on unmanned systems. Additionally, it offers roboticists a level of awareness regarding the ethics of these future weapon systems. Includes a solid, thorough bibliography. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Academic and professional audiences, all levels.’ Choice '... the author has made great effort in this "path