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Titelbild Call for Contributions. autonome Waffensysteme. Mehrere spiegelnde Flächen für einem bewölkten Hintergrund.
15 November 2021

Buchprojekt: The realities of autonomous weapons

Das Alexander von Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft (HIIG) und das Karlsruher Institut für Technologie legen ein Augenmerk auf das komplexe Themenfeld der autonomen Waffensysteme. Das gemeinsame Publikationsprojekt untersucht unterschiedliche Imaginationen, Fakten und Fiktionen und macht die ganze Tragweite dieser umstrittenen Technologie sichtbar. Das Buch erscheint Ende 2024 bei Bristol University Press. 

The development of “Autonomous Weapon Systems” (AWS) has been subject to controversial discussions for years. Political representatives and leaders, civil society, journalists, NGOs and the academia are discussing their ethical, social and political implications. Many are calling for strict regulation, even a global ban. 

Surprisingly, it often remains unclear which technologies the term AWS means and what these weapons are capable of. It can refer to drones, flight carriers, robot soldiers or cyber weapons. Ideas on their functionality and consequences are inspired and shaped by imaginaries on military and technological futures. They include geopolitical scenarios, ethical questions, national policies, science fiction or war games.

In this book project we are exploring this hybrid space which creates different realities of its own. Autonomous weapons can only be understood in this constant and complex dynamic between the actual technological developments and the potentials that are associated with them. It is this uncertainty, in which reality, imagination, possibility and fiction get conflated – and the full scope of this controversial technology becomes visible. 

Authors across the globe with various backgrounds share their particular views on AWS. Topics include: 

  • Narratives and imaginations of weaponised artificial intelligence in India
  • Techno-religious imaginaries of the first Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle
  • The public discourses on autonomous weapons in Japan
  • Autonomous weapons in fiction
  • The defence industry methods to support military autonomous technologies
  • Wargaming as a narrative space 
  • Ethical reasoning about AWS
  • Technological conditions for lawful autonomy
  • A historiography of network-centric warfare
  • Imaginary power of AWS in the US Army
  • “Hunting” drones in close urban warfare
  • Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and trustworthy military AI

The book will be published in 2024 with Bristol University Press, edited by Thomas Christian Bächle (Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society) and Jascha Bareis (Karlsruhe Institute for Technology).

If you have any questions, you can contact the editors via autonomous-weapons@hiig.de.

Thomas Christian Bächle, Dr.

Forschungsprogrammleiter: Die Entwicklung der digitalen Gesellschaft

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