Military Use of Artificial Intelligence under International Humanitarian Law: Insights from Canada
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Military Use of Artificial Intelligence under International Humanitarian Law: Insights from Canada

Authors: Mahshid Talebian Kiakalayeh


As artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can be used by both civilians and soldiers; it is vital to consider the consequences emanating from AI military as well as civilian use. Indeed, many of the same technologies can have a dual-use. This paper will explore the military uses of AI and assess their compliance with international legal norms. AI developments not only have changed the capacity of the military to conduct complex operations but have also increased legal concerns. The existence of a potential legal vacuum in legal principles on the military use of AI indicates the necessity of more study on compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the branch of international law which governs the conduct of hostilities. While capabilities of new means of military AI continue to advance at incredible rates, this body of law is seeking to limit the methods of warfare protecting civilian persons who are not participating in an armed conflict. Implementing AI in the military realm would result in potential issues including ethical and legal challenges. For instance, when intelligence can perform any warfare task without any human involvement, a range of humanitarian debates will be raised as to whether this technology might distinguish between military and civilian targets or not. This is mainly because AI in fully military systems would not seem to carry legal and ethical judgment which can interfere with IHL principles. The paper will take, as a case study, Canada’s compliance with IHL in the area of AI and the related legal issues that are likely to arise as this country continues to develop military uses of AI.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence, military use, International Humanitarian Law, the Canadian perspective.

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