What are the morally relevant facts of the case? What happened (or will happen)? Why did it happen (or will happen)? Who made (or will make) the key decision(s)? Who was (or will be) affected? What are (or will be) the long-term consequences?

Learning Goal: I’m working on a humanities discussion question and need support to help me learn.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology advances rapidly, it promises to radically transform many areas of human life, including healthcare, education, science, and warfare. With respect to the latter, in particular, some governments and private companies around the world are currently working on developing Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS).

A United States’ Department of Defense Directive defines a fully autonomous weapon system as “a weapon 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 in targets without further human input after activation” (Department of Defense Directive 3000.09, 2012).



In a message to the Group of Governmental Experts Links to an external site.(GGE) of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that “autonomous machines with the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant, and should be prohibited by international law.” The United Nations convened the GGE group in an attempt to create an international forum for open discussions on LAWS. However, as various nations hold opposing views about LAWS, very little progress has been made since talks started in 2017.

For example, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States oppose a ban on the development of LAWS. In UN talks, all three nations have argued that LAWS can have benefits and that a preemptive ban is not necessary. Moreover, Russia and the US have questioned the relevance of international humanitarian law to LAWS, while the UK and US have also argued that existing national weapon reviews are the best way to deal with LAWS. In doing so, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have been undermining the UN’s attempt to foster international cooperation on the issue of LAWS.

As UN talks on LAWS stagnate, the private sector must play a critical role in this debate, since private companies are often the ones that actually develop LAWS. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots Links to an external site.is the largest coalition of non-governmental organizations that is attempting to ban LAWS. The campaign released a viral video titled Slaughterbots, a term coined by Stuart Russell, a Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley, which portrays a future where automated drones kill innocent civilian groups under the order of an unknown operator. Professor Russell envisions a dystopian future in which swarms of slaughter-bots are instructed to attack technologically inferior enemies. Equipped with face recognition technology, these killer drones can target specific individuals. The advantage of LAWS is that the attacker’s soldiers will never be exposed to any risk. Wars can be fought by people working in offices thousands of miles away from the target.

However, terrorist and criminal organizations may also be tempted to use LAWS. If one can kill one’s enemies by using small flying robots equipped with face recognition technology, anyone can become a mass murder at any time. If the slaughter-bots are mass produced, they could wipe out entire cities without destroying buildings and other values assets.

Please answer the following questions about the case:

  1. What are the morally relevant facts of the case? What happened (or will happen)? Why did it happen (or will happen)? Who made (or will make) the key decision(s)? Who was (or will be) affected? What are (or will be) the long-term consequences?
  2. What is the most important moral issue raised by the case? Try to formulate the moral question in a single sentence.
  3. Define the key terms of the case and clarify any unresolved conceptual issues. (For example, does the technology pose an existential threat to humanity?)
  4. Apply the relevant code(s) of ethics (namely, the NSPE, IEEE, and ACM Codes of Ethics). Do the code(s) issue clear and coherent verdicts? If not, why not?
  5. How robust is the moral verdict issued by the code(s)? Check this by applying the ethical theories discussed in chapters 5 and 6 (specifically, Act-/Rule-utilitarianism, Duty Ethics, Virtue Ethics, and Rights Ethics). Do all ethical theories yield the same verdict? If not, develop a strategy for managing this moral uncertainty.

– if you can please formulate a moral conclusion about the case from a particular ethical perspective (i.e., Act-/Rule-utilitarianism, Duty Ethics, Virtue Ethics, or Rights Ethics),



– the book

– Case 3 Questions and Answers

Please only use the book, videos, and the links as sources if you want outside sources you can use the internet but don’t cite from another books.

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