In, On, or Out of the Loop? Denmark and Autonomous Weapon Systems

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The increasing ability of military weapon systems to perform functions autonomously is a strategic trend with implications for defence policies and warfare in general. Denmark and many of its allies possess weapons that function in an automatic, automated, or autonomous manner – the difference being the degree of sophist ication of weapon responses to external
stimuli. Such weapons can be controlled directly with a “man-in-the-loop,” managed by a “man-on-the-loop,” or supervised by a “man-out-of-the-loop.” Although all uses of force by Western militaries take place within an institution alised process that ensures the lawful application of violence, the challenge for policy is to develop technological systems and institutions whose procedures and command structures maintain meaningful human control over these autonomously functioning weapon systems, particularly with regard to the functions of selecting and engaging targets with lethal violence. Like most other advanced democracies, Denmark has not developed a comprehensive policy with regard to weapon systems with autonomous functions. We suggest that Danish decision-makers consider adopting a defence planning mechanism to analyse the issue of autonomous systems and clarify matters of principle and general Danish policy. The topics to be addressed could include a process to consider the acquisition, integration, and utilisation of weapon systems with autonomous functions, including appropriate command and control arrangements.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCenter for militære studier
Number of pages45
ISBN (Print)9788773937952
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2017

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - Denmark, policy assessment, NATO, United States, United Kingdom, ICRC, United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross, international law, autonomous, aoutonomous weapons, automatic, automated, military, Weapons

ID: 173711141