Legal and Societal Impacts of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Artificial intelligence (AI) which informs automated systems is seen as a
foundational technology that can enhance competitiveness, aid productivity,
protect national security, and help solve societal challenges. Accordingly,
automated decision-making systems, empowered by AI have been used in various context (e.g., heath care, financial services, taxation, social media). While such technology has been weaponised in the last two decades, we are told that there are no weapons systems (officially) that are capable of specifically targeting individuals or groups of people based on an autonomous decision made by the system itself. Against this background, the chapter explains various forms of AI and what we perceive AI to be. Secondly, it provides different contexts in which AI is and/or can be used and the challenges that emanate from using LAWS. Thirdly, it provides an overview of recent initiatives at international level which aim to set a number of benchmarks on the regulation and ethical and legal use of AI technology. While in the confines of this chapter it is not possible to critically analyse all relevant legal instruments comprehensively, in section four, this chapter comments on the key legal principles emanating from international law which will have to endure the consequences of LAWS, if they materialise. Finally, the chapter puts forward a number of recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGesellschaft. Kritik. Ironie
Subtitle of host publicationLiber Amicorum für Reinhard Kreissl
EditorsAnita Aigner, Helga Cremer-Schäfer, Arno Pilgram
PublisherLit Verlag
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)978-3-643-51141-6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2023


  • Lethal autonomous weapons
  • international law
  • Human Rights
  • Artificial intelligence
  • ethics


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