Autonomy of the lethal system: the Defence Ethics Committee presents its report

30 avril 2021
Autonomy of the lethal system: the Defence Ethics Committee presents its report
Much ink and sweat has been spilled over the debate on so-called autonomous lethal weapons systems. On 29 April 2021, the Defence Ethics Committee published an opinion on the subject that greatly clarifies this debate.

Its report on the integration of autonomy in lethal weapon systems studies the subject in great detail. In this respect, the conclusions of this committee are in line with Numalis' opinion on this subject. Indeed, the debate around the potential emergence of fully Lethal Autonomous Weapon (LAWs) is above all a semantic debate on the notion of autonomy.

Indeed, the Defence Ethics Committee and Numalis warn against the lexical trap of the term autonomy, wrongly comparing the machine to man (anthropocentrism). Numalis had already had the opportunity to deal with this subject through its article "AI autonomy: can we really talk about it?"

The Defence Ethics Committee concluded by making a distinction between LAWs defined as lethal weapon systems programmed to be capable of evolving their operating rules beyond human control. AALWS (Autonomy Integrated Lethal Weapon Systems) refers to a system with automated functions that cannot be deployed without human intervention. In other words, the human being remains at the heart of decisions on the use of lethal force.

This report will be studied in the coming days by the Ministry of the Armed Forces, which has already indicated its firm opposition to the development, use or export of fully autonomous weapons systems.


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