The Moral Case Against Autonomous and Semiautonomous UAVs

  • Noel Sharkey
Reference work entry


Robots in warfare are an inevitable stage in the evolution of weapon development designed to separate fighters from their foes. Weapon technology has evolved to enable killing from ever-increasing distances throughout the history of warfare. From stones to pole weapons to bows and arrow cannon to aerial bombing to cruise missiles, killing has become ever easier. Battlefield robots may not change the character of war, but they will change the way that wars are fought. The focus of this chapter accordingly is on ethical concerns about the application of armed robots in areas with mixed combatant and civilian populations. It is unclear whether international humanitarian law (the Laws of War) will eventually need to be amended to accommodate emerging technologies. But for now one must scrutinize the mapping between the applications of the new technology and the current laws to ensure that those laws are preserved and followed.


United Nations Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Moral Disengagement Autonomous Robot Geneva Convention 
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Copyright information

© Taylor and Francis 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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