In the past two decades, the autonomy of platforms and systems has progressed considerably among military organisations of industrialised countries. Autonomy refers to a system’s ability to respond to uncertain situations by independently selecting from different courses of action and creating a new series of actions. It is characterised by degrees of self-directed behaviour, ranging from manual to fully autonomous. The status of autonomous weapon systems appears to raise numerous questions in the military realm and recent debates about the possible emergence of lethal versions of AWS have added many layers of confusion making it worthwhile to take stock of the technical and operational realities of these systems as well as of their strategic, operational, legal and ethical implications.

Implications of AWS in warfare are numerous and diverse. Geopolitically, the expansion of AWS will not entail equal access to this technology by the majority of state’s defence organisations; on the contrary, these systems will engender a divide between countries that possess the required skills and those states or non-state actors that will be prevented access to these technologies. Such an evolution is likely to elevate the risk of asymmetrical warfare in the future. On the military operational side, autonomy also presents considerable challenges as the degree of technicity of these systems is expected to evolve at a hyperbolic pace due to AI integration. Moreover, depending on their precise degree of autonomy and the residual place left to human operators, these systems raise many questions and spark off complex debates about legal responsibility, ethics and moral challenges in warfare.

AWS encompass a wide variety of military technological systems and infrastructures that are hard to differentiate. The purpose of the colloquium is to clarify the debate by defining the numerous terms and expressions used within the discourse on AWS as well as to provide an impartial debate about AWS in modern warfare. Besides detailing the industrial and technological realities, the colloquium will also offer new perspectives on the political, legal and ethical implications linked to an increasing integration of autonomous systems into contemporary and future defence organisations.


Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS):
Operational, Ethical and Legal Perspectives

Programma downloaden

Moderator : Alain DE NEVE

Taal: Engels

Videos en PowerPoint-presentaties van het colloquium
van 23 maart 2022, 09.30 u. – 18.30 u.
: (lopende)
Dr Frank SAUER
Ms Alice SPAZIAN video & ppt
Ms Ann-Katrien OIMANN video & ppt
Em. Prof. Ludo FROYEN video & ppt
Panel Discussion (moderated by Jens FRANSSEN, VRT/NWS)
Videos en PowerPoint-presentaties van het colloquium
van 24 maart 2022, 09.30 u. – 16.20 u.: (lopende)
Dr Stanislav ABAIMOV & Prof. Dr Maurizio MARTELLINI
video & ppt
Frigate Captain Tom DE VLEESCHAUWER ppt
Prof. Dr Martti LEHTO
Mr Bernard CLERMONT (John Cockerill Defence)
Mr Jon KOSKI (Northrop Grumman)

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