War, Responsibility, and Killer Robots

24 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2015 Last revised: 23 Dec 2015

See all articles by Rebecca Crootof

Rebecca Crootof

University of Richmond School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

Date Written: February 24, 2015


Although many are concerned that autonomous weapon systems may make war “too easy,” no one has addressed how their use may alter the distribution of the constitutional war power. Drones, cyber operations, and other technological advances in weaponry already allow the United States to intervene militarily with minimal boots on the ground, and increased autonomy in weapon systems will further reduce risk to soldiers. As human troops are augmented and supplanted by robotic ones, it will be politically easier to justify using force, especially for short-term military engagements. Accordingly, one of the remaining incentives for Congress to check presidential warmongering — popular outrage at the loss of American lives — will diminish. The integration of autonomous weapon systems into U.S. military forces will therefore contribute to the growing concentration of the war power in the hands of the Executive, with implications for the international doctrine of humanitarian intervention.

Keywords: law of war, law of armed conflict, international humanitarian law, IHL, human rights, robot, autonomous weapon system, autonomous lethal weapon, automation, autonomy, machine learning, artificial intelligence, war power, constitutional law, humanitarian intervention

Suggested Citation

Crootof, Rebecca, War, Responsibility, and Killer Robots (February 24, 2015). North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, Vol. 40, No. 4, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2569298

Rebecca Crootof (Contact Author)

University of Richmond School of Law ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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