Lost in Translation: Building a Common Language for Regulating Autonomous Weapons

TitleLost in Translation: Building a Common Language for Regulating Autonomous Weapons
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsCanellas, M. C., and R. A. Haga
MagazineIEEE Technology and Society Magazine
Issue Number3
Date Published09/2016
Type of ArticleMagazine
Other Numbers
Keywordsfunction allocation, international law, lethal autonomous weapons systems, meaningful human control

Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) sit at the intersection of novel automation capable of making decisions without humans and established lethal weapons. Their development has reached the highest level of consideration for international regulation, the United Nations (U.N.). Despite multiple U.N. Meetings of Experts from 2014-2016, there has been little progress the four key issues: 1) how to define autonomy, 2) the amount or quality of human control necessary for lawful use of AWS, 3) how to establish an accountability framework for AWS, and 4) how to review and certify permissible AWS. We propose that the discipline of cognitive systems engineering can be the unifying, technical language for developing effective regulations of AWS. Cognitive systems engineering research has developed standards and techniques for modeling and measuring the performance of complex, sociotechnical, and safety-critical systems like AWS. We show that cognitive systems engineering research can be leveraged to identify the sources of conflict and locations of consensus at the U.N., and make meaningful progress on the four key issues.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
Map of Cognitive Engineering Center

Cognitive Engineering Center (CEC)
Georgia Institute of Technology
270 Ferst Drive
Atlanta GA 30332-0150