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November 17, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


Artificial Intelligence (AI), a transformative force, presents challenges globally, particularly in responsible applications across civil and military domains. While civilian AI regulation has progressed, discussions on military use, especially lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), are gaining momentum.

Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS):

Definition and Scope:

  • LAWS, also termed “killer robots,” are autonomous military systems with the ability to select and engage targets independently.
  • Operate across diverse terrains: air, land, water, underwater, and space.
  • Pre-programmed with a specific “target profile” and deploy sensors, like facial recognition, to locate targets.


Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in LAWS:

Autonomy Approaches:

  • Pre-defined Tasks: Involves programming specific instructions for predefined actions without real-time decision-making.
  • Through AI: Utilizes AI tools to derive behavior from data, enabling adaptation based on learning.

AI as an Enabler:

  • AI incorporation not mandatory but enhances autonomous system capabilities.
  • AI also functions in an assistance role in systems directly operated by humans.

Benefits of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS):

Force Multiplier and Battlefield Expansion:

  • Enhances military effectiveness, acting as a force multiplier.
  • Potential for autonomous task execution, allowing human forces to focus on strategic planning.

Resource Allocation Efficiency:

  • Improves efficiency by reducing costs associated with training, logistics, and personnel.
  • Autonomous systems operate for extended periods without extensive training requirements.

Reducing Casualties and Human Suffering:

  • Takes on risky tasks and engages in dangerous situations, potentially lowering casualties.
  • Improves information gathering and decision-making capabilities.

Issues with LAWS:

Ethical Concerns:

  • Raises questions about responsibility when delegating lethal force decisions to algorithms.
  • The unpredictability of autonomous weapons adds to ethical dilemmas.

Legal Challenges:

  • Poses compliance challenges with international humanitarian and human rights laws.
  • Accountability mechanisms for violations need clarification.

Technical and Security Challenges:

  • Vulnerabilities in AI, sensors, and algorithms compromise reliability.
  • Increased risk of armed conflict, escalation, and proliferation.

United Nations’ Stand on Autonomous Weapons:

General Assembly Resolution:

  • Overwhelming support (164 countries in favor, 5 against, 8 abstentions).
  • Urges addressing challenges through the resolution.
  • Calls for a comprehensive report from the UN Secretary-General.

Countries and Autonomous Weapons:

United States:

  • Major player in autonomous weapons development.
  • Emphasizes human control over autonomous weapon use.


  • Prioritizes AI in building an intelligent military.
  • Deploys AI across various military functions.


  • Navigating the field cautiously despite a negative vote on autonomous weapons at the UNGA.
  • Acknowledges the importance of AI in national defense and seeks pragmatic approaches.

Enhancing India’s Capacities on LAWS:

Invest in National AI Capabilities:

  • Allocate significant resources for core AI sciences and technological capabilities.
  • Establish military doctrines integrating AI into defense management.

Enhance Technological Partnership with the US:

  • Leverage the growing technological partnership for joint initiatives in AI advancements.

Shape International Norms:

  • Collaborate with like-minded nations to develop global governance for responsible military AI use.

Cooperate on Responsible AI Use:

  • Collaborate globally to ensure responsible military AI use.
  • Advocate for human control and oversight in autonomous weapon deployment.

Build Institutions:

  • Establish dedicated institutions for AI research and development in defense.
  • Strengthen existing frameworks for international cooperation on AI-related issues.

Engage in Diplomacy:

  • Actively participate in diplomatic efforts for collaborative AI governance.
  • Contribute to international forums setting guidelines for ethical AI use in defense.


India, facing substantial challenges and military imbalances, acknowledges the centrality of AI in its national defense. Navigating the ethical terrain of autonomous weapons, India’s pragmatic approach aligns with responsible AI governance. Collaborative efforts, technological partnerships, and diplomatic engagement will be pivotal as India strives to integrate AI responsibly, ensuring a balance between technological advancements and ethical considerations in national defense.

Mains Question:

  1. Discuss the global challenges and ethical considerations surrounding the development and deployment of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Examine the international response, with a focus on the United Nations’ stance. In the context of India’s position and strategies outlined in the given text, evaluate the measures required to ensure responsible and ethical use of Artificial Intelligence in national defense. (150 Words) 10M


November 17, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: