ABSTRACT

Stuxnet was one of the first cyber-attacks designated as a cyber autonomous weapon. Indeed, autonomy promises to be increasingly used in cyber means of warfare. These said autonomous cyber capabilities (ACC), however, remain outside of international debates. While there are international discussions about cyber, and autonomy in weapon systems (LAWS), those discussions are held distinctly, without examining the interplay between these technologies. Yet, as some physical autonomous systems of warfare, cyber autonomous systems may be of concern. For this reason, the present chapter follows a thought-provoking path by demonstrating that, in a sense, ACC could be characterized as LAWS. The effect of this characterization is to stimulate international debate. The purpose is twofold. Considering international discussions on cyber, characterizing ACC as LAWS may impact State positions on some current cyber-related issues such as characterization of cyber means as weapon, legal review of cyber means, applicability and application of international humanitarian law (IHL). Given the international discussions on LAWS, this particular exercise will steer to consider the specific implications for international law, especially IHL, of the interaction between cyber space and LAWS.