Risks and Robots – some ethical issues

Archive International Society for Military Ethics, 2011 (2011)


While in many countries the use of unmanned systems is still in its infancy, other countries, most notably the US and Israel, are much ahead. Most of the systems in operation today are unarmed and are mainly used for reconnaissance and clearing improvised explosive devices. But over the last years the deployment of armed military robots is also on the increase, especially in the air. This might make unethical behavior less likely to happen, seeing that unmanned systems are immune to what are considered to be main causes of misconduct on the battlefield: frustration, boredom, and anger. The use of robots raises some ethical questions, though, and this paper attempts to give an overview of issues at stake, such as the role of emotions, civilian casualties, just war theory, and responsibility.

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