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19 - Autonomous Use of Force

from Part II - Major Themes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2021

Stuart Casey-Maslen
Affiliation:
University of Pretoria
Christof Heyns
Affiliation:
University of Pretoria
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Summary

This chapter considers whether the autonomous use of force is compatible with respect for and protection of the right to life. The development of artificial intelligence has given rise to autonomy from human beings in the decision to target individuals with force and the ability to kill them. While weapons systems incorporating features of automaticity of action and reaction have existed for many years, the ever-increasing sophistication – and phenomenal speed – of decision-making by machine mean that both as a means of warfare and in law enforcement, autonomous weapons systems may become commonplace in years to come. The chapter discusses dispassionately whether it is possible to be certain that autonomous use of force in the conduct of hostilities is unequivocally negative for the enjoyment of the right to life during armed conflict.

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Chapter
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The Right to Life under International Law
An Interpretative Manual
, pp. 400 - 414
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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