so it’s not a military justice story… yet. Over at Opinio Juris they’re talking about the brand new DoD Directive 3000.09 dated November 21, 2012: Autonomy in Weapon Systems.

4. POLICY. It is DoD policy that:

a. Autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.

And among the definitions:

autonomous weapon system. A weapon system that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator. This includes human-supervised autonomous weapon systems that are designed to allow human operators to override operation of the weapon system, but can select and engage targets without further human input after activation.

semi-autonomous weapon system. A weapon system that, once activated, is intended to only engage individual targets or specific target groups that have been selected by a human operator. This includes:

Semi-autonomous weapon systems that employ autonomy for engagement-related functions including, but not limited to, acquiring, tracking, and identifying potential targets; cueing potential targets to human operators; prioritizing selected targets; timing of when to fire; or providing terminal guidance to home in on selected targets, provided that human control is retained over the decision to select individual targets and specific target groups for engagement.

“Fire and forget” or lock-on-after-launch homing munitions that rely on TTPs to maximize the probability that the only targets within the seeker’s acquisition basket when the seeker activates are those individual targets or specific target groups that have been selected by a human operator.

unintended engagement. The use of force resulting in damage to persons or objects that human operators did not intend to be the targets of U.S. military operations, including unacceptable levels of collateral damage beyond those consistent with the law of war, ROE, and commander’s intent.

Sleep tight.

6 Responses to “You can’t prosecute a machine”

  1. Teufelmutt says:

    Unintended Emgagement:  Redefining the War Crime in Postmodern Persistent Conflict.” I can’t wait to write this article.

  2. Peanut Gallery says:

    I’ve seen “I Robot.”  It doesn’t end well.

  3. stewie says:

    Yet.

  4. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    I don’t see how this is ground breaking.  We already have the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) [R2-D2 for those that have seen it) and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile batteries.  Both are at least semi-autonomous and seem to have been developed with these rules in mind.  SO it is good to see rules that have been followed are at least down on paper now as a marker for the rest of the international community to follow.

  5. Christopher Mathews says:

    I can’t wait for Skynet’s Article 32 hearing.

  6. stewie says:

    Naked Arnold will be the first Defense witness…

    and the last.