University of Oulu

Autonomous weapon systems and meaningful human control

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Author: Klemettilä, Pauli1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
Pages: 24
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : P. Klemettilä, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-16
Thesis type: Bachelor's thesis


Autonomous weapon systems are an emerging technology that affects the lives of soldiers and civilians who operate or live in conflict zones. The ethical and humanitarian problem caused by the advent of artificial intelligence -based weapon systems capable of independently making decisions about target selection and engagement has led to substantial academic debate, with critics calling for a total ban on such weapons based on the grounds that their use will invariably lead to negative humanitarian consequences, while others have suggested that autonomous systems may, in some situations, be able to behave in a more humane fashion on the battlefield than human soldiers.

This thesis analysed the current state of research on the topic of autonomous weapon systems through a literature review. The concepts of autonomous weapon system and meaningful human control were defined and explained. Arguments about the humanitarian consequences of developing these weapon systems, both positive and negative, were critically examined. A special focus was placed on examining the proposed methods and principles for designing autonomous weapon systems in a way that mitigates their potential negative humanitarian effects.

The results of the literature review indicated that the concept of meaningful human control is the most prominent and promising principle to guide the design and development of autonomous weapon systems that adhere to the international humanitarian law. Value sensitive design was found to be a potential methodology for injecting human values into the design process of autonomous weapon systems.

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Copyright information: © Pauli Klemettilä, 2022. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.