IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 38

The values of blame, trust, harm,
human dignity, confidence,
expectations, support, fairness,
and anxiety were deemed the most
important in relation to Autonomous
Weapon Systems.

that values do not only describe an empirical statement
of the external world, but also adhere to the interests of
humans in a cultural context [51]. Values can be used to
motivate and explain individual decision-making and for
investigation of human and social dynamics [52].
Many definitions of values exist. The existing definitions have been summarized by Cheng and Fleischmann [52] in their meta-inventory of values and they
state that: "...values serve as guiding principles of what
people consider important in life." Although a quite
simple description, we think it captures the description
of a value best, and therefore we will adhere to the
definition of Cheng and Fleischmann [52] in our study.

Universal Values
Research suggests that people across cultures identify
with basic values that can be considered as universal
human values [50], [51], [53]. Although people can differ
in which values they find more important, there seems
to be a surprisingly high consensus across cultures on
the hierarchical order of the values [50]. As part of their
research some researchers created so-called value
inventories, which are lists of items that can be used to
categorize the analysis of human values and are often
accompanied by a descriptive tool for discussions of
these values [52]. The most common and well-studied
value inventories are those of Schwartz [35], Friedman,
Kahn, Borning, and Huldtgren [51], Beauchamp and Walters [37], and Graham et al. [53].
Values are not only described in theory from a psychological perspective as outlined in the previous paragraph but have also been practically implemented and
used by means of applied ethics to professional
domains. For example in the medical field, bioethics are
used to describe values that are important as guiding
principles for biomedical professionals, such as physicians, nurses, and health workers. Beauchamp and Walters [37] describe four values as basis for the framework
of bioethics: 1) autonomy: acting intentionally without
controlling influences that would mitigate against a

38

voluntary act, 2) beneficence: providing benefits for society as a whole, 3) justice: being fair and reasonable, and
4) nonmaleficence: not intentionally imposing risk or
harm upon another.

Values Related to Autonomous Weapon Systems
Values as described in the value theories above are not
often explicitly mentioned in the literature on Autonomous Weapon Systems, but most studies discuss different values or related ethical issues. Two public reports
of Human Rights Watch mention the lack of human
emotion, accountability, responsibility, lack of human
dignity, and harm as values related to Autonomous
Weapon Systems [54], [55]. Sharkey and Suchman [56]
state that the values of accountability and responsibility
are important to consider in the design of robotic systems for military operations.
In the field of military ethics, Johnson and Axinn [57]
list responsibility, reduction of human harm, human dignity, honor, and human sacrifice as values in their discussion on whether the decision to take a human life
should be handed over to a machine or not. Cummings
[58] in her case study of the Tactical Tomahawk missile,
looks at the universal values proposed by Friedman and
Kahn, Jr. [36] and states that next to accountability and
informed consent, the value of human welfare is fundamental core value for engineers when developing weapons as it relates to the health, safety, and welfare of the
public. She also mentions that the legal principles of proportionality and discrimination are important to consider in the context of weapon design. Proportionality refers
to the fact that an attack is only justified when the damage is not considered to be excessive. Discrimination
means that a distinction between combatants and noncombatants is possible [59]. Asaro [60] also refers to the
principles of proportionality and discrimination and
states that Autonomous Weapon Systems open up a
moral space in which new norms are needed. Although
he does not explicitly mention values in his argument,
he does refer to the value of human life and the need for
humans to be involved in the decision of taking a human
life. Other studies primarily describe ethical issues, such
as preventing harm, upholding human dignity, security,
the value of human life, and accountability [40], [45],
[61],] [62].
Based on this literature review, on a short exploratory online survey, and on expert interviews described in
[63], we selected the values blame, trust, harm, human
dignity, confidence, expectations, support, fairness, and
anxiety to be incorporated in our study, because these
values are mentioned most often in literature and
because our respondents indicated that they deem
these values most important in relation to Autonomous
Weapon Systems.

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

∕

DECEMBER 2019



IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019

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