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Christopher J. Spinelli, Rise of Robots: The Military's Use of Autonomous Lethal Force (Feb. 17, 2015) (full-text).


Humanity's quest to find innovative ways to deal with difficult, monotonous and dangerous activities has been an ever evolving and unending endeavor. The current proliferation of robotic technology is just the next step in this evolutionary sequence. Both civilian and military agencies alike are vying for this new round of technology. Most civilian applications of robots are innocuous and generally perform menial tasks. The same cannot be said for the military. Currently there are numerous systems in each branch of the military that have some autonomous lethal engagement ability. As military professionals, we have a duty to ensure the legal framework, proper policy, moral and ethical considerations, as well as proper tactics and doctrine are in place to ensure compliance with the Rules of Engagement (ROE) and the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC) before embarking down a path to fully automated autonomous lethal force.

This paper investigates some of the more pressing issues and present recommendations for potential paths forward. To facilitate the discussion, the paper is divided into three major areas: the legal implications, ethical implications and professional implications of use of robots in warfare.