Controlling Humans and Machines

10 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017

See all articles by Bryant Walker Smith

Bryant Walker Smith

University of South Carolina - School of Law; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Date Written: October 1, 2015


Unlike most articles considering "meaningful human control" of lethal weapons, this article does not focus on the role that a human should play in an otherwise automated weapon system. Rather, it reverses these human and machine roles to consider automated systems that limit human-initiated lethal force. After discussing the concept of control generally, this piece argues, first, that a bias toward human authority could impede eventual restrictions on that authority and, second, that the line between automated systems that initiate lethal force and automated systems that restrict that force is potentially unclear.

Keywords: autonomous weapon system, autonomous legal reasoning, meaningful human control, robotics, AWS, IHL, law of war, use of force, killer robots, drones

Suggested Citation

Smith, Bryant Walker, Controlling Humans and Machines (October 1, 2015). Temple International & Comparative Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Bryant Walker Smith (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina - School of Law ( email )

1525 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States


Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States


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