Agency Perception and Moral Values Related to Autonomous Weapons

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Author: Ilse Verdiesen
The deployment of Autonomous Weapons gives rise to ongoing debate in society and at the United Nations, in the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Yet little empirical research has been done on this topic. This volume fills that gap by offering an empirical study based on military personnel and civilians working at the Dutch Ministry of Defence. It yields insight into how Autonomous Weapons are perceived by the military and general public; and which moral values are considered important in relation to their deployment. The research approach used is the Value-Sensitive Design (VSD) method that allows for the consideration of human values throughout the design process of technology. The outcome indicates that military personnel and civilians attribute more agency (the capacity to think and plan) to an Autonomous Weapon than to a Human Operated Drone. In addition, it is clear that common ground exists between military and societal groups in their perception of the values of human dignity and anxiety. These two values arise often in the discourse, and addressing them is essential when considering the ethics of the deployment of Autonomous Weapons. The text of this volume is also offered in parallel French and German translation.

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Ilse Verdiesen is a Lt.Col in the Royal Netherlands Armed Forces and a part-time PhD student at Delft University of Technology. Her research focusses on the design of Human Oversight of Autonomous Weapons to study the control mechanisms that are related to Meaningful Human Control and military decision-making processes.