Toward Meaningful Human Control of Autonomous Weapons Systems through Function Allocation

TitleToward Meaningful Human Control of Autonomous Weapons Systems through Function Allocation
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsCanellas, M. C., and R. A. Haga
Conference NameIEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society
Date Published11/2015
PublisherIEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT)
Conference LocationDublin, Ireland
Keywordsautonomous weapons systems, function allocation, human-automation interaction, meaningful human control

One of the few convergent themes during the first-ever United Nations Meetings of Experts focused on autonomous weapons systems in 2014 and in 2015 was the requirement that there be meaningful human control of autonomous weapons systems (AWS). What exactly constitutes meaningful human control, however, is still ill-defined. Multiple sets of definitions and analyses have been published and discussed, however they have not been operationalized. Given that meaningful human control centers on the interaction of human and autonomous agents, we leverage the models and metrics of analyzing function allocation – the allocation of work between human and autonomous agents – to analyze and compare definitions of meaningful human control and the definitions of AWS proposed by the U.S. Department of Defense. Specifically, we transform the definitions into function allocation form to model and compare the definitions, and then show how a mismatch between authority and responsibility in an exemplar military scenario can still plague the human-AWS interactions. In sum, this paper provides a starting point for future research to investigate the application of function allocation to the questions of meaningful human control and more generally, the development of rules and standards for incorporating AWS into the law of armed conflict.

Refereed DesignationRefereed
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