Advertisement

Who Is to Blame for Autonomous Weapons Systems’ Misdoings?

  • Daniele Amoroso
  • Benedetta Giordano
Chapter

Abstract

This Chapter analyses who (or what legal entity) should be held responsible for behaviours by Autonomous Weapons Systems (AWS) that, were they enacted by a human agent, would qualify as internationally wrongful acts. After illustrating the structural problems which make ascription of responsibility for AWS’ activities particularly difficult, when not impossible, the alternative routes proposed to solve the ensuing responsibility gap will be assessed. The analysis will focus, in the first place, on the international criminal responsibility of the individuals who, in one way or another, are involved in the process of production, deployment and activation of the AWS. The possibility to hold the deploying State accountable for AWS’ wrongdoings will then be gauged. Subsequently, attention will be paid to the responsibility of the corporations manufacturing and/or programming the AWS. It will be observed that these options may solve some responsibility problems more effectively than critics of AWS are ready to admit. At the same time, it will be shown that, unless a no-fault liability regime is adopted, autonomy in weapons systems is bound to magnify the risk that no one may be held to answer for acts which are objectively in contrast with international legal prescriptions. Also, it will be argued that, given the complementary relationship among the various forms of responsibility under international law, proposals aimed at focusing solely on one of these at the expense of others are incapable of leading to satisfying results.

References

  1. Ambos, Kai. 2013. Treatise on International Criminal Law. Volume I: Foundations and General Part. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Amoroso, Daniele, and Guglielmo Tamburrini. 2017. The Ethical and Legal Case Against Autonomy in Weapons Systems. Global Jurist (on-line): 1–20.Google Scholar
  3. Arkin, Ronald. 2009. Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots. Boca Raton: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Badar, Mohamed. 2006. “Just Convict Everyone!” – Joint Perpetration: From Tadić to Stakić and Back Again. International Criminal Law Review 6: 293–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beck, Susanne. 2015. The Problem of Ascribing Legal Responsibility in the Case of Robotics. AI & Society 31: 473–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bianchi, Andrea. 2009. State Responsibility and Criminal Liability of Individuals. In The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice, ed. Antonio Cassese, 16–24. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bovens, Mark. 1998. The Quest for Responsibility. Accountability and Citizenship in Complex Organisations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Chengeta, Thompson. 2016. Accountability Gap: Autonomous Weapon Systems and Modes of Responsibility in International Law. Denver Journal of International Law and Policy 45: 1–50.Google Scholar
  9. Clapham, Andrew. 2000. The Question of Jurisdiction Under International Criminal Law Over Legal Persons: Lessons from the Rome Conference on the International Criminal Court. In Liability of Multinational Corporations Under International Law, ed. Menno Y. Kamminga and Saman Zia-Zarifi, 139–195. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  10. Conforti, Benedetto. 2018. In Diritto internazionale, ed. Massimo Iovane. Napoli: Editoriale Scientifica.Google Scholar
  11. Corn, Geoffrey S. 2016. Autonomous Weapons Systems: Managing the Inevitability of “Taking the Man Out of the Loop”. In Autonomous Weapons Systems: Law, Ethics, Policy, ed. Nehal Bhuta et al., 209–242. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crootof, Rebecca. 2016. War Torts: Accountability for Autonomous Weapons. University of Pennsylvania Law Review 164: 1347–1402.Google Scholar
  13. Gaeta, Paola. 2016. Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Alleged Responsibility Gap. Speaker’s Summary. In Expert Meeting, Autonomous Weapon Systems Implications of Increasing Autonomy in the Critical Functions of Weapons (Versoix, Switzerland, 15–16 March 2016), ed. ICRC, 44–45. Geneva: ICRC.Google Scholar
  14. Geiss, Robin, and Henning Lahmann. 2017. Autonomous Weapons Systems: A Paradigm Shift for the Law of Armed Conflict? In Research Handbook on Remote Warfare, ed. Jens D. Ohlin, 371–404. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hammond, Daniel M. 2015. Autonomous Weapons and the Problem of State Accountability. Chicago Journal of International Law 15: 652–687.Google Scholar
  16. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Harvard’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC). 2015. Mind the Gap. The Lack of Accountability for Killer Robots.Google Scholar
  17. ICC. 2011. Elements of Crimes.Google Scholar
  18. ICRC. 1987. In Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, ed. Yves Sandoz, Christophe Swinarski, and Bruno Zimmermann. Geneva: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2005. In Customary International Humanitarian Law, ed. Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Louise Doswald-Beck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. ———, ed. 2014. Expert Meeting. Autonomous Weapon Systems. Technical, Military, Legal and Humanitarian Aspects (Geneva, Switzerland, 26 to 28 March 2014). Geneva: ICRC.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2016. Summary Report. In Expert Meeting, Autonomous Weapon Systems Implications of Increasing Autonomy in the Critical Functions of Weapons (Versoix, Switzerland, 15–16 March 2016), ed. ICRC, 7-22. Geneva: ICRC.Google Scholar
  22. Johnson, Deborah G. 2014. Technology with No Human Responsibility? Journal of Business Ethics 127: 707–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kaeb, Caroline. 2016. The Shifting Sands of Corporate Liability Under International Criminal Law. The George Washington International Law Review 49: 351–403.Google Scholar
  24. Kiss, Alex, and Dinah L. Shelton. 2007. Strict Liability in International Environmental Law. In Law of the Sea, Environmental Law and Settlement of Disputes: Liber Amicorum Judge Thomas A. Mensah, ed. Tafsir Malick Ndiaye and Wolfrum Rüdiger. The Hague: Brill.Google Scholar
  25. Krishnan, Armin. 2009. Killer Robots: Legality and Ethicality of Autonomous Weapons. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  26. Lin, Patrick. 2012. Introduction to Robot Ethics. In Robot Ethics. The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics, ed. Patrick Lin, Keith Abney, and George A. Bekey, 3–16. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Margulies, Peter. 2017. Making Autonomous Weapons Accountable: Command Responsibility for Computer-Guided Lethal Force in Armed Conflicts. In Research Handbook on Remote Warfare, ed. Jens D. Ohlin, 405–442. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Matthias, Andreas. 2004. The Responsibility Gap: Ascribing Responsibility for the Actions of Learning Automata. Ethics and Information Technology 6: 175–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McFarland, Tim, and Tim McCormack. 2014. Mind the Gap: Can Developers of Autonomous Weapons Systems Be Liable for War Crimes? International Law Studies 90: 361–385.Google Scholar
  30. Melzer, Nils. 2013. Human Rights Implications of the Usage of Drones and Unmanned Robots in Warfare. Bruxelles: EU Directorate-General for External Policies.Google Scholar
  31. NATO Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC). 2016. Future Unmanned System Technologies. Legal and Ethical Implications of Increasing Automation. Kalkar (Germany): JAPCC.Google Scholar
  32. Nissenbaum, Helen. 1996. Accountability in a Computerized Society. Science and Engineering Ethics 2: 25–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ohlin, Jens D. 2013. Targeting and the Concept of Intent. Michigan Journal of International Law 35: 79–130.Google Scholar
  34. Reitinger, Nathan. 2015–2016. Algorithmic Choice and Superior Responsibility: Closing the Gap Between Liability and Lethal Autonomy by Defining the Line Between Actors and Tools. Gonzaga Law Review 51: 79–119.Google Scholar
  35. Ronen, Yaël. 2009. Avoid or Compensate? Liability for Incidental Injury to Civilians Inflicted During Armed Conflict. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 42: 181–225.Google Scholar
  36. Schmitt, Michael N. 2013. Autonomous Weapon Systems and International Humanitarian Law: A Reply to the Critics. Harvard National Security Journal Features 1: 1–37.Google Scholar
  37. Sparrow, Robert. 2007. Killer Robots. Journal of Applied Philosophy 24: 62–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stephens, Beth. 2002. Translating Filártiga: A Comparative and International Law Analysis of Domestic Remedies for International Human Rights Violations. Yale Journal of International Law 27: 1–57.Google Scholar
  39. Tamburrini, Guglielmo. 2016. On Banning Autonomous Weapon Systems: From Deontological to Wide Consequentialist Reasons. In Autonomous Weapons Systems: Law, Ethics, Policy, ed. Nehal Bhuta et al., 122–142. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Thompson, Dennis F. 1980. Moral Responsibility of Public Officials: The Problem of Many Hands. The American Political Science Review 74: 95–106.Google Scholar
  41. van Sliedregt, Elies. 2012. The Curious Case of International Criminal Liability. Journal of International Criminal Justice 10: 1171–1188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniele Amoroso
    • 1
  • Benedetta Giordano
    • 2
  1. 1.University of CagliariCagliariItaly
  2. 2.Juvenile Court of SalernoSalernoItaly

Personalised recommendations