Pros and Cons of Autonomous Weapons Systems

Military Review, May-June 2017

11 Pages Posted: 4 May 2017

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Oren Etzioni

Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence

Date Written: April 28, 2017


As technology progresses and autonomous weapons increasingly become a reality rather than mere science fiction, an ethical debate has developed surrounding the use of such weapons, which operate with little or no human oversight. Some view the use of autonomous weapons as morally preferable (not to mention strategically advantageous), as they can be used in place of human combatants. Others oppose their use for moral and legal reasons. The article discusses challenges to limiting and defining autonomous weapons, and proposes seeking international agreement to ban fully autonomous weapons — those which cannot be recalled — as a first step toward addressing the issues raised.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai and Etzioni, Oren, Pros and Cons of Autonomous Weapons Systems (April 28, 2017). Military Review, May-June 2017. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

Oren Etzioni

Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence ( email )

615 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
United States

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