The Legal and Ethical Issues around Use of Autonomous Weapon Systems
There is no doubt that technological advancement has been gained in different fields, including medical, agricultural, education, transport, and marine research. Nowadays the same technology is catching up on modern warfare, where automated robots and Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS) are being used in battles. The application of Autonomous Weapon Systems has raised a lot of concern among different players as they try to address their use and the general impact of the systems on the modern society. There are issues that revolve around the legitimacy of the use of AWS and the morally right to use such methods in war today. The question, therefore, is if it both ethically and morally right to use such technology advancement in battles and what could be the possible effects of its application (Sharkey, 2011).
To start this discussion, I would like to say that technology has made it possible for so many things to be done that were never thought to be practically possible to achieve. Thus, it will be prudent to appreciate the great strides that have been achieved through the advancement of technology notwithstanding the challenges that come along with such innovations. In recognition of these challenges, my opinion is that the use of AWS will give the defense forces an opportunity to carry out their duties and provide a more efficient and a reliable source of information. This paper will discuss how the use of AWS will affect the ethical and moral aspects together with the legal challenges. In addition, the paper will provide an overview of the possible ways of the elimination of the challenges related to the usage of AWS, which can be implemented in the countries that have the interest in adopting these systems (Salcedo, Ortiz, Lackey, Hudson & Taylor, 2011).
The contribution of the use of robots and Autonomous Weapon Systems in modern warfare has been immense, and a lot has been achieved in terms of ensuring global security as well as for individual countries that are using that technology. For instance, use of drones has helped in the monitoring of borders with minimal intervention from people, who do not need to be physically present at the border point. Drones are automated to cover certain distances and able to identify inconsistencies at border points and transfer the same information to the control center where appropriate action is then taken. However even with such advancements, there have been concerns about drones’ intrusion at the border points to spy on other countries (Jacques, Bode & Pachter, 2009). In some instances, the use of these weapons has been a center of criticism as lives have been lost since the robots could not be able to distinguish their targets. An ability of human judgment, which helps in circumstances where there is a necessity to make the distinction, is absent in robots. In addition, the AWS are subject to technical failure and can represent a danger to the users. If the machines get malfunction in the software, it could lead to destruction of property or kill people who were not targets. The process of AWS legalization also represents a challenge as there is no single body that will be able to monitor all the countries and check the compliance with the norms of technology usage. It, therefore, remains the responsibility of each country to understand its role in controlling the use of technology and ensuring that no harmful weapons are developed in its borders.
The question about how ethical it is to use such systems is a matter that can be addressed and it should not be an impediment to the application of the systems. War has evolved, as well as the methods used in fighting. The techniques are referred to as targeted killing where robots or drones are feed with information on specific targets that should be executed. In my opinion, this is a more objective war where only a threat is dealt with, rather than the conventional way where war is fought on battles without giving attention to innocent lives being put at risk. If anything was to follow the claim of ethics, then the use of this technology will preserve more ethical part by eliminating the threat only (Bernhard, 2008).
Countries that are using robots and AWS have reported an increase in their security preparedness and the ability to respond to threats of terrorism and other external risks in a much faster and quicker way. As a result, the lives of military personnel are not put at risk, as well as the numbers manning borders have reduced. The cost implications relating to such inclusions of technology and exclusions of human labor have been immense given that there has been a general decrease in the operations of the military and other armed forces. Major operations have been carried out by the US government in combating terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries that have been victims of extremist terrorism (Ahmad, 2014). With the application of these new technologies, the USA has been able to eliminate a threat with minimal causality on innocent lives.
It is common knowledge that human being who go into combat faces a lot of challenges, unlike autonomous weapons. Effects such as hunger, exhaustion, and pain inflicted during the war could impair the judgment of human beings and, therefore, unable to achieve the desired results. To overcome such challenges, militaries can employ autonomous weapons that do not get affected by any of these elements since they are pre-programmed to execute orders and the force with which they fulfill their duties does not reduce. Autonomous Weapons do not share emotional feelings unlike humans whose judgment is mostly based on their emotions, and that may jeopardize the mission and lead to loss of other soldiers while at war (Salcedo, 2011).
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Failure to legalize the use of Autonomous Weapon Systems, robots, and drones in combat, in my opinion, has delayed the advancement of counter terrorism and monitoring of border activities of countries. The idea of their use is to reduce and minimize the loss of lives of military personnel at the battlefield. It makes more sense to have machines deal with the terrorists who do not give consideration and respect of human life when they attack, whereas the military soldiers are expected to treat the same terrorist in a humane way (Jacques et al., 2009). The legislation that support the implementation of the use of AWS, robots and drones should also foresee that these machines can be registered and given identification of independent countries that produce and own such technology. A well-formulated policy should be adopted to govern the production process, distribute, implement, as well as control the use of this technology. AWS will help in curbing the runaway terrorist activities and improving world security (Bernhard, 2008).
In concluding, I would support the use of robots, drones and Autonomous Weapon Systems. In particular, the enemy will use the same technology and outsmart us leading to serious losses both of human life and property without taking into account the aspects of legality or molarity of their actions. It is only wise that the policy makers consider the fact that technology has changed, and wars cannot be fought in the same old ways as the enemy will have an advantage over them. As a result, the possible effects may be too catastrophic to bear. I believe that matters of legalizing can be achieved, which will allow to address the ethical aspect of AWS application. Further the policy makers need to address the issue critically in regard to the lives claimed each passing day. Just like the anti-nuclear weapon signed some years ago after the Nagasaki bombings, the use of Autonomous Weapons should be subjected to the same treatment to ensure that every party correlates to the underlying jurisdictions, otherwise moral issues will always crop up without a baseline of control being instituted. One factor that the society needs to recognize is that technology is here to stay and will play a crucial role in the improving the wellbeing of the people. Technology will always have its merits and drawbacks.
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