New Publication: Autonomous Weapons Systems, Artificial Intelligence, and the Problem of Meaningful Human Control

By Dr Elke Schwarz

Abstract: In this article, I explore the (im)possibility of human control and question the presupposition that we can be morally adequately or meaningfully in control over AI-supported LAWS. Taking seriously Wiener’s warning that “machines can and do transcend some of the limitations of their designers and that in doing so they may be both effective and dangerous,” I argue that in the LAWS human-machine complex, technological features and the underlying logic of the AI system progressively close the spaces and limit the capacities required for human moral agency.

The article can be read in the special issue on “Military Technology and Armed Forces” of PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNAL OF CONFLICT AND VIOLENCE (PJCV). The whole issue is open access and available at

Publication: Elke Schwarz on Death Machines

By Elke Schwarz

Dr Elke Schwarz’s research focuses on the political and ethical implications of new technologies, with a focus on digital technologies and autonomous systems. In 2018, she published her monograph Death Machines: The Ethics of Violent Technologies. Her work has been published in Thesis Eleven, Security Dialogue, Millennium Journal of International Studies, the Journal of International Political Theory and other journals. She has been awarded a BA/Leverhulme Small Grant for a project titled Moral agency and meaningful human control: Exploring military ethical values for alignment in the use of autonomous weapons systems. Elke is co-founder of the BISA Ethics and World Politics Working Group and an RSA Fellow.

In this article in Ethical Record (Conway Hall), Elke Schwarz reflects on the ethics of autonomous weapons since the Korean War. The piece is a loose adaptation of a talk she gave at Conway Hall in December 2019. 

To download the article in PDF form, please go to