This short explainer paper discusses autonomous weapons in the context of digital dehumanisation.
Digital dehumanisation is the process whereby humans are reduced to data, which is then used to make decisions and/or take actions that negatively affect their lives. This process deprives people of dignity, demeans individuals’ humanity, and removes or replaces human involvement or responsibility through the use of automated decision-making in technology. Automated harm occurs when these decisions negatively impact us. The potential automated harm arising from autonomous weapons includes injury or death. As such, the digital dehumanisation caused by autonomous weapons is at the severe end of the scale of harms caused by automated decision-making or autonomous technologies. This explainer is also available in French and Spanish.