Moral Values Related to Autonomous Weapon Systems: An Empirical Survey that Reveals Common Ground for the Ethical Debate

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Abstract

In the political debate on Autonomous Weapon Systems strong views and opinions are voiced, but empirical research to support these opinions is lacking. Insight into which moral values are related to the deployment of Autonomous Weapon Systems is missing. We describe the empirical results of two studies on moral values regarding Autonomous Weapon Systems that aim to understand the perception of people pertaining to the introduction of Autonomous Weapon Systems. One study consists of a sample of military personnel of the Dutch Ministry of Defense and the second study contains a sample of civilians. The results indicate both groups are more anxious about the deployment of Autonomous Weapon Systems than about the deployment of Human Operated drones, and that they perceive Autonomous Weapon Systems to have less respect for the dignity of human life. The concerns for Autonomous Weapon Systems creating new kinds of psychological and moral harm is very present in the public debate, and this is in our opinion one element that deserves to be carefully considered in future debates on the ethics of the design and deployment of Autonomous Weapon Systems. The results of these studies reveal a common ground regarding the moral values of human dignity and anxiety pertaining the introduction of Autonomous Weapon Systems which could further the ethical debate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8924586
Pages (from-to)34-44
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Technology and Society Magazine
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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