Smart soldiers: towards a more ethical warfare

Femi Richard Omotoyinbo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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It is a truism that, due to human weaknesses, human soldiers have yet to have sufficiently ethical warfare. It is arguable that the likelihood of human soldiers to breach the Principle of Non-Combatant Immunity, for example, is higher in contrast to smart soldiers who are emotionally inept. Hence, this paper examines the possibility that the integration of ethics into smart soldiers will help address moral challenges in modern warfare. The approach is to develop and employ smart soldiers that are enhanced with ethical capabilities. Advocates of this approach think that it is more realistic to make competent entities (i.e., smart soldiers) become morally responsible than to enforce moral responsibility on human soldiers with inherent (moral) limitations. This view somewhat seeks a radical transition from the usual anthropocentric warfare to a robocentric warfare with the belief that the transition has moral advantages. However, the paper defends the claim that despite human limitations, the capacity of ethically enhanced smart soldiers for moral sensitivity is artificial and unauthentic. There are significant problems with the three models of programming ethics into smart soldiers. Also, there are further challenges from the absence of emotion as a moral gauge, and the problems of apportioning responsibility in case of mishap from the actions or omissions of smart soldiers. Among other reasons, the paper takes the replacement of human soldiers as an extreme approach towards an ethical warfare. This replacement predicates ethical complications that outweigh the benefits from the exclusive use of smart soldiers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAI and Society
Early online date29 Jan 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Ethical warfare
  • Just war theory
  • Robocentric warfare
  • Smart soldiers
  • War and artificial agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Artificial Intelligence


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