Episode 5 – Eric Talbot Jensen on Human Judgment and Autonomous Weapons

In Episode 5, I speak with Eric Talbot Jensen, Professor of Law at BYU Law School. Eric discusses his recent law review article, in which he argues that the law of armed conflict does not require human judgment to be involved in targeting decisions, and that therefore autonomous weapons are not per se unlawful. What is more, he goes further to argue that because autonomous weapons are not unlawful, and may in fact comply with the rules of IHL better than humans, there should be no limitation on the research and development of such weapons. We discuss some of the strong ethical counter-arguments to his position.


“The (Erroneous) Requirement for Human Judgment (and Error) in the Law of Armed Conflict,” 96 Int’l L. Stud. 26 (2020).

Reading Recommendations:

– Paul Scharre, Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War (2018).

– United States Department of Defense, “Directive No. 3000.09, Autonomy Weapons Systems,” Nov. 1, 2012 (as revised).

– Chris Jenks and Rain Liivoja, “Machine Autonomy and the Constant Care Obligation,” ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy, Dec. 11, 2018.