This report analyzes in depth the hurdles to holding anyone responsible for the actions of this type of weapon. It also shows that even if a case succeeded in assigning liability, the nature of the accountability that resulted might not realize the aims of deterring future harm and providing retributive justice to victims.
Fully autonomous weapons themselves cannot substitute for responsible humans as defendants in any legal proceeding that seeks to achieve deterrence and retribution. Furthermore, a variety of legal obstacles make it likely that humans associated with the use or production of these weapons—notably operators and commanders, programmers and manufacturers—would escape liability for the suffering caused by fully autonomous weapons. Neither criminal law nor civil law guarantees adequate accountability for individuals directly or indirectly involved in the use of fully autonomous weapons.