ETH Zurich on 6th November published an article that finds that malicious non-state actors have the potential to leverage lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) against state actors and that the international community has not paid adequate attention to this threat.  It says that terrorist groups, illicit organisations, and other non-state actors have a long fascination with advanced weapons technologies, such as chemical, nuclear and biological weapons.  It looks at unsuccessful attempts by the UN to control LAWS, but says that academics, defence industry representatives and AI developers have all raised concerns about the possible acquisition of LAWS by malicious actors; and says that the risk of disastrous use of LAWS by non-state actors is far greater than potential misuse by state actors.  The article reported that there are already weapons systems that operate with a degree of autonomy that might be considered characteristic of LAWS.  Israel has developed 2 semi-autonomous drone systems, Harpy and Harop, which operate as “loitering munitions”.  The author says that, by controlling exports, states can reduce the risk that developing LAWS will be diverted to prohibited actors. Like most international agreements, the negotiation of a new export control regime would likely be a long and exhaustive process. Recognising this, the Wassenaar Arrangement on dual-use items, provides a ready platform for the near-term creation of a new export control on LAWS and critical LAWS components.  There is an argument that export controls would be ineffective for controlling the real vector for non-state acquisition: modification of commercial technology.

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s