The main purpose of this paper is to inform the international community on the risks of Autonomous Technology (AT) for global society. AT can be said to be the essence of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), which have triggered a legal and policy debate within the international arms control framework of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (UN CCW) that is now entering its fifth year. Since LAWS highly challenge existing International Humanitarian Law (IHL) due to their capacity of replacing a human operator on a weapons platform, the CCW’s tasks of, i.a., ensuring that the concepts of legal accountability and human responsibility do not become void, and assessing whether LAWS are legal under IHL, are of utmost importance. However, LAWS are not the only manifestation of the security risks of AT. This paper will demonstrate further ways of the actual and potential weaponization of AT that are currently not yet fully addressed by the UN organizations. Moreover, AT not only poses risks to global society if weaponized, but can pose tremendous systemic risks to global society and humanity also when not weaponized. This potentially dangerous transformative power of AT, which is beyond the scope of the CCW’s mandate, will be the thematic core of this paper. Based on a risk assessment of not-weaponized AT, the paper will present thought-provoking impulses that can shape an international interdisciplinary debate on the risks of AT specifically and of emerging technologies more generally.
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