This article explores the dilemma of melding arms control with emerging technologies involving autonomous weapons systems.


Australia has always displayed a strong commitment to arms control. However, Australia is also embracing emerging technologies used in what is known as lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). Australia argues that a treaty on LAWS is premature and that AI technologies can improve safety and reduce risks. In this article, Stephanie Koorey explores this dilemma by arguing that while these new systems promise to be cheaper and less risky, they can also make mistakes and make escalation more likely. As well, Koorey poses the question: should these machines be allowed to make life-and-death decisions? Some scholars, special interest groups and the UN secretary general, have expressed serious concerns over the removal of human control over a final decision, allowing a machine to decide whether or not to use lethal force. As South African legal scholar Christof Heyns put it: ‘the weapon may now become the warrior.’