AUTONOMOUS WEAPON SYSTEMS: HOW THE HUMAN OPERATOR STAYS INVOLVED

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Authors
Osterreicher, Ian R.
Subjects
autonomous weapon systems
AWS
artificial intelligence
authority
responsibility
accountability
Advisors
Dahl, Erik J.
McCoy, Michael K.
Date of Issue
2022-12
Date
Publisher
Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
Emerging technologies are bringing significant changes to the character of warfare. One such emerging technology, autonomous weapon systems (AWS), is proving increasingly crucial for the United States to maintain its technological superiority over its adversaries. However, AWS brings increasingly complex challenges that demand legal, ethical, and operational considerations. The thesis asks a question related directly to current DOD policy on AWS: how can a human operator apply appropriate judgment during future AWS employment? Using authority, responsibility, and accountability as an analytical framework, the thesis builds upon U.S. policy and strategy with respect to autonomy in weapon systems, international law considerations, and the application of AWS in an operational environment. It uses case studies of the 1988 U.S.S. Vincennes incident and 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom Patriot fratricides to examine how human judgment was executed alongside autonomous functions within weapon systems, providing lessons learned for AWS research, development, and implementation. The thesis uncovers critical ideas for keeping a human operator from losing control by remaining involved with specific oversight measures—allowing appropriate judgment to be applied during the employment process.
Type
Thesis
Description
Series/Report No
Department
National Security Affairs (NSA)
Organization
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NPS Report Number
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Distribution Statement
Approved for public release. Distribution is unlimited.
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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