Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Law International

Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Re-Examining the Law and Ethics of Robotic Warfare

edited by Jai Galliott, Duncan MacIntosh & Jens David Ohlin

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2021
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2021
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


The question of whether new rules or regulations are required to govern, restrict, or even prohibit the use of autonomous weapon systems has been the subject of debate for the better part of a decade. Despite the claims of advocacy groups, the way ahead remains unclear since the international community has yet to agree on a specific definition of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems and the great powers have largely refused to support an effective ban. In this vacuum, the public has been presented with a heavily one-sided view of Killer Robots.

This volume presents a more nuanced approach to autonomous weapon systems that recognizes the need to progress beyond a discourse framed by the Terminator and HAL 9000. Re-shaping the discussion around this emerging military innovation requires a new line of thought and a willingness to challenge the orthodoxy.

Lethal Autonomous Weapons focuses on exploring the moral and legal issues associated with the design, development and deployment of lethal autonomous weapons. In this volume, we bring together some of the most prominent academics and academic-practitioners in the lethal autonomous weapons space and seek to return some balance to the debate. As part of this effort, we recognize that society needs to invest in hard conversations that tackle the ethics, morality, and law of these new digital technologies and understand the human role in their creation and operation.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

Jai Galliott is Director of the Values in Defence and Security Technology Group at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Non-Residential Fellow at the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy, West Point and Visiting Fellow in The Centre for Technology and Global Affairs at the University of Oxford. Dr Galliott has developed a reputation as one of the foremost experts on the socio-ethical implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and is regarded as an internationally respected scholar on the ethical, legal and strategic issues associated with the employment of emerging technologies, including cyber systems, autonomous vehicles and soldier augmentation

Duncan MacIntosh is a Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair at Dalhousie University. Professor MacIntosh works in metaethics, decision and action theory, metaphysics, philosophy of language, epistemology, and philosophy of science. He has written on desire-based theories of rationality, the relationship between rationality and time, the reducibility of morality to rationality, modeling morality and rationality with the tools of action and game theory, scientific realism, and a number of other topics.

Jens David Ohlin is Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Cornell Law School. He specializes in international law and criminal law. He specifically focuses on the laws of war with special emphasis on the effects of new technology on the waging of warfare, including unmanned drones in the strategy of targeted killings, cyber-warfare, and the role of non-state actors in armed conflicts. He authored The Assault on International Law (2015).