LENS Essay Series: “Regulating the Third Frontier: The Current Unrestricted Nature of Autonomous Weapons and the Need for Regulatory Safeguards”

Virtually everyone concedes that the future of warfare will include autonomous weapons, but controversy exists as to how they can be reliably employed in a legal and moral manner.  This is the exact issue with which the latest addition to LENS’ online Essays on Law, Ethics and National Security Series grapples.  It’s from an enromously talented Duke Law 3L, Angelina “Gina” Bianchi, and she titles her article, Regulating  the Third Frontier: The Current Unrestricted Nature of Autonomous Weapons and the Need for Regulatory Safeguards.

The abstract to Gina’s innovative article is below, but be sure to read her full essay here.


Autonomous weapons systems are the future of warfare. Though many contend that the use and development of such weapons systems are problematic, with countries devoting substantial resources to their development thier eventual use seems inevitable. This inevitability, however, does not mean that concerns such as the ability of these systems to comply with Law of Armed Conflict and the lack of meaningful human control within the kill chain should be ignored. With this weapons revolution, it is important that we take a step to evaluate the implications and potential externalities that could result from this shift in warfare. This paper aims to provide an overview of the concerns that surround the development and use of autonomous weapons systems, but more importantly, to propose as framework whereby we can mitigate these concerns through regulating both the development and implementation of these systems.

About the Author:

Gina Bianchi (J.D. 2022) is a  third-year at Duke University School of Law. She grew up in Rochester, New York, and graduated from Lafayette College with a B.A. in Philosophy in 2018. Before law school, she earned her MLitt in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy from the University of St. Andrews. During her 1L summer, Gina interned for Latham & Watkins in Houston. She is an Executive Editor for Duke’s Law and Contemporary Problems journal.

Remember what we like to say on Lawfire®: gather the facts, examine the law, evaluate the arguments – and then decide for yourself!

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