IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 37

report of the Advisory Council On International Affairs
[38] captures the description of Autonomous Weapon
Systems best from an engineering and military standpoint, because it takes predefined criteria into account
and is linked to the military targeting process as the
weapon will only be deployed after a human decision.
Therefore, we will follow this definition and define
Autonomous Weapon Systems as:
"A weapon that, without human intervention,
selects and engages targets matching certain predefined criteria, following a human decision to
deploy the weapon on the understanding that an
attack, once launched, cannot be stopped by
human intervention" [[38]].

Value Theories
In contrast to the topic of Autonomous Weapon Systems, the concept of values has been studied extensively in the fields of moral philosophy and psychology.
Moral philosophy has a long and rich history in examining values and in this field theoretical questions are
asked to investigate the nature of value and goodness
[46]. Often a distinction is made between instrumental
values, which means there is reason to favor it for its
effect that can lead to good things [47], and intrinsic values, which "...is a kind of value such that when it is possessed by something, it is possessed by it solely in
virtue of its intrinsic properties" [48]. Although traditional moral philosophy is mainly concerned with theories
of what "ought to be" and is in a strict sense unaffected

In psychology, values are used by
people to justify their behaviors and
define which type of behaviors are
socially acceptable.

by empirical results, scholars have in the past decades
increasingly called for a more systematic study of the
relationship between the abstract ethical theories and
moral practice, especially in disciplines such as experimental philosophy and applied ethics [49]. The focus of
this study is to investigate, from an empirical perspective, which moral values relate to Autonomous Weapon
Systems and how. Therefore, we chose not to start from
theoretical theories of values in traditional moral philosophy, but rather turned to (moral) psychology and
applied ethics, and in particular medical and military
ethics, to start our research on the values in Autonomous
Weapon Systems.
In psychology, values are differentiated from attitudes,
needs, norms, and behavior in that they are a belief, that
they lead to behavior that guides people, and that they are
ordered in a hierarchy that shows the importance of the
value over other values [35]. Values are used by people to
justify their behaviors and define which type of behaviors
are socially acceptable [50]. They are distinct from facts in

TABLE 1. Overview Definitions of Autonomous Weapon Systems.
Author (s)

Definition

AIV and CAVV [38]

"A weapon that, without human intervention, selects and engages targets matching certain predefined
criteria, following a human decision to deploy the weapon on the understanding that an attack, once
launched, cannot be stopped by human intervention."

Altmann, et al. [43]

Autonomous Weapon Systems are: "...robot weapons that once launched will select and engage
targets without further human intervention."

Galliott [44]

Military robots are: "a group of powered electro-mechanical systems, all of which have in common that they:
1) Do not have an onboard human operator;
2) Are designed to be recoverable (even though they may not be used in a way that renders them
such); and,
3) In a military context, are able to exert their power in order to deliver a lethal or nonlethal payload or
otherwise perform a function in support of a military force's objectives."

Horowitz [45]

"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."

Royakkers and Orbons [42]

Military Robots are "... reusable unmanned systems for military purposes with any level of autonomy."

Kuptel and Williams [39]

"Machines are only "autonomous" with respect to certain functions such as navigation, sensor
optimization, or fuel management."

UNDIR [41]

The level of Autonomy depends on the "critical functions of concern and the interactions of different
variables"

DECEMBER 2019

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IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

37



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