Using Sociology of Technology, this paper analyzes Autonomous Weapons Systems as a constructed artefact by enumerating the military, private companies and, developers and researchers in Artificial Intelligence, as the relevant social actors, whose roles and practices are indispensable to the imagination, designing, acceptance, distribution and use of AWS, because of the growth of AI. In this layering, military has the power to use the weapon, AI community has the expertise in the form of AI and the public companies are mediators be-tween the two. Empirical data was collected from a weapons exhibition and from interviews with AI developers and researchers, to deconstruct the nature of relationships between them and independent of each other. To further its agenda military plays the role of an epis-temic community and security actor, to enable private companies to become security enac-tors and knowledge brokers in a symbiotic relation. AI community independently develops AI relevant to the military. As social and security actors, their imperative to make knowledge objective is flawed because the human element of technology can never be re-moved, and because of their dispersed specialization this community can become appropri-ated just like AI. The threat of AWS and bad AI is causing emergence of an epistemic community of the bulwarks of AI industry driven to shape society in a futurist sense by making technology safe for humanity. AWS have a flexible character unlike a nuclear weapon, which keeps the options for their use wide open. Knowing that AI is only a tool actors are working to stabi-lize it by redefining it, polishing it and enabling the continuity of its use, which is making it feasible for use by the military. The narrative around AWS is creating a technological para-digm based on the potential of its use by companies and countries. Lastly, the Military In-dustrial Complex has grown to acknowledge and accommodate AI community which is transforming it from all directions, and diversifying it, which means a nascent version of AI or AWS has already entered the business of war.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Autonomous weapons systems (AWS), Artificial Intelligence, sociology of technology (SCOT), security, epistemic communities, knowledge
Thesis Advisor Jayasundara Smits, Shyamika
Persistent URL
Series Social Justice Perspectives (SJP)
Surabhi. Ankita. (2019, December 20). From ‘Killer Robots’ to Autonomous Weapons Systems (AWS): A sociotechnical analysis of the role of actors and practices in relation to development of AWS. Social Justice Perspectives (SJP). Retrieved from