Robot Warfare and the Problem of Bound Discretion (in Hebrew)

Eliav Lieblich and Eyal Benvenisti

Forthcoming in TAU Law Review – Iyuney Mishpat (2016), posted on ssrn

Here is the abstract:

Under the laws of armed conflict, targeting decisions are subject to the requirement to exercise constant discretion. This requirement is all the more stronger in the context of asymmetric warfare, when the use of force constitutes the exercise of public authority vis-à-vis individuals subjected to state power. Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) are based on pre-programmed algorithms. The pre-programmed algorithm binds the discretion of the human operators of the AWS. Hence the deployment of AWS, without constant human involvement in targeting decisions, is per se arbitrary and incompatible with the requirements of international humanitarian law and human rights law. We submit that our analysis provides a more satisfying explanation for the intuitive resentment toward AWS that is addressed in the otherwise rather circular debate about the morality and lawfulness of AWS.