Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Law of Armed Conflict: Compatibility with International Humanitarian Law

Dr Tim McFarland. Recorded 11 September 2020 (Youtube, 21m:01s)


Introduction including the advantages of AWS, technical developments and the implications of their use.
3:55 - What are autonomous weapons?
11:17 - What makes them worthy of legal discussions?
16:00 - The principle of distinction

About the seminar

This seminar will briefly outline the defining technical characteristics of autonomous weapon systems and the aspects of machine autonomy which underlie legal concerns. Their status with respect to current international humanitarian law will be explained and some thoughts will be offered about the ways in which the law might develop in response to increasing military use of autonomous systems.

This seminar draws on Tim McFarland’s new book, Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Law of Armed Conflict: Compatibility with International Humanitarian Law (CUP, 2020).

About the presenter

Dr Tim McFarland's current research focuses on the legal challenges connected with the defence and security applications of science and technology, with a particular focus on the impact of autonomous systems. His broader research interests include the law of armed conflict and international criminal law. He is the author of Autonomous Weapon Systems and the Law of Armed Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Before joining the University of Queensland, Tim researched the legal, ethical and social implications of military use of autonomous systems as a member of the Values in Defence & Security Technology group within the School of Engineering and Information Technology of the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He completed his PhD studies at Melbourne Law School.

He also holds degrees in Engineering and Economics, and has worked in the international humanitarian law department of the Australian Red Cross as well as in a variety of information technology roles.

Read more about Law and the Future of War

About Research Seminar Series

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