Six in Ten (61%) Respondents Across 26 Countries Oppose the Use of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

Opposition to Fully Autonomous Weapons Has Increased Since 2017, Up From 56%

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  • Chris Deeney Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, January 22, 2019According to a recent online survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Human Rights Watch for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, sixty one percent of adults across 26 countries say that they oppose the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems, also known as fully autonomous weapons. On the other hand, 22 percent support such use and 17 percent say that they are not sure. In a similar study conducted by Ipsos in January 2017, 56 percent were opposed, 24 percent not opposed, and 19 percent unsure.

  • Support for fully autonomous weapons is strongest in India (50%) and Israel (41%). The strongest opposition is in Turkey (78%), South Korea (74%), and Hungary (74%).

Among those who are opposed, 66% say that they feel this way because they believe lethal autonomous weapons systems cross a moral line as machines should not be allowed to kill. More than half (54%) of those who are opposed also feel this way because weapons are “unaccountable.”

  1. The United Nations is reviewing the strategic, legal and moral implications of lethal autonomous weapons systems. These weapons systems would be capable of independently selecting targets and attacking those targets without human intervention. They are thus different than current day "drones" where humans select and attack targets. How do you feel about the use of such lethal autonomous weapons systems in war?

 

 

Base

Strongly/ Somewhat support

Somewhat/ Strongly oppose

Total

18,795

22%

61%

India

576

50%

37%

Israel

500

41%

41%

Brazil

1,003

36%

46%

China

1,001

32%

60%

Mexico

502

28%

64%

Peru

501

27%

65%

Argentina

502

26%

64%

South Africa

591

26%

59%

United States

1,000

24%

52%

Poland

501

22%

62%

Great Britain

1,001

21%

54%

Italy

1,001

20%

58%

Colombia

501

20%

73%

Spain

1,001

19%

65%

Russia

500

18%

59%

Belgium

501

17%

63%

France

1,002

16%

59%

South Korea

501

15%

74%

Sweden

502

15%

71%

Australia

1,000

15%

59%

Canada

1,002

15%

60%

Germany

1,002

14%

72%

Japan

1,102

14%

48%

Hungary

500

13%

74%

Turkey

500

12%

78%

Netherlands 502 12% 68%

 

  1. If you oppose the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems, which of the following concerns you?

 

 

Total

Argentina

Belgium

Mexico

Poland

Russia

South Africa

South Korea

Sweden

Turkey

Hungary

Australia

Brazil

Canada

Base: Those opposed

11,429

322

333

321

324

311

364

360

374

372

367

606

489

652

They'd be illegal

21%

22%

18%

25%

19%

21%

25%

12%

22%

26%

17%

19%

18%

18%

They'd be unaccountable

54%

76%

48%

75%

51%

60%

51%

44%

53%

56%

52%

65%

32%

62%

They'd cross a moral line because machines should not be allowed to kill

66%

58%

69%

55%

68%

70%

74%

63%

73%

54%

81%

68%

54%

67%

They'd be too expensive

10%

6%

17%

9%

10%

4%

18%

7%

6%

5%

11%

12%

11%

16%

They'd be subject to technical failures

45%

48%

47%

52%

35%

33%

46%

47%

56%

17%

47%

65%

54%

59%

Something else

9%

7%

8%

6%

9%

4%

9%

2%

10%

21%

10%

10%

10%

8%

I don't know

4%

1%

5%

1%

8%

4%

2%

6%

4%

5%

3%

3%

8%

5%

 

 

Total

China

France

Germany

Great Britain

India

Italy

Japan

Spain

United States

Peru

Israel

Netherlands

Colombia

Base: Those opposed

11,429

603

596

743

549

214

585

552

646

525

323

205

331

362

They'd be illegal

21%

18%

40%

19%

19%

20%

33%

19%

15%

19%

15%

31%

13%

27%

They'd be unaccountable

48%

62%

64%

35%

48%

72%

41%

45%

45%

36%

66%

77%

48%

74%

They'd cross a moral line because machines should not be allowed to kill

66%

67%

85%

70%

77%

66%

68%

65%

59%

70%

62%

50%

65%

59%

They'd be too expensive

10%

16%

6%

10%

7%

13%

15%

10%

9%

9%

18%

8%

11%

9%

They'd be subject to technical failures

45%

59%

26%

56%

60%

60%

43%

32%

31%

19%

72%

41%

39%

44%

Something else

9%

8%

4%

7%

7%

7%

11%

10%

7%

10%

12%

4%

15%

8%

I don't know

4%

5%

1%

5%

5%

3%

2%

5%

7%

7%

2%

2%

7%

2%

 

About the Study

The findings come from surveys conducted between November 26 to December 7, 2018 on the Ipsos Global Advisor platform using the Ipsos Online Panel system with 18,795 adults across 26 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the U.S.

The sample size per country in each survey is approximately N=1,000 for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great

Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S. and approximately N=500 for Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Hungary, India, Israel, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey.

Weighting has been employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country census data.

In 16 of the countries surveyed, internet penetration is sufficiently high to think of the samples as representative of the national population within the age ranges covered: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain, and the U.S. Brazil, Colombia, China, India, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Peru, South Africa, and Turkey have lower levels of internet penetration. Samples from those countries should not be considered fully nationally representative, but instead to represent a more affluent, connected population, representing an important and emerging middle class.

All survey respondents are aged 18 ‐ 64 in Canada and the U.S. and 16 ‐ 64 in all other countries. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±3.5 percentage points for a sample of 1,000 and of ±5.0 percentage points for a sample of 500.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,000, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5.0 and n=500, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=6.5).

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Deeney
Senior Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 312 526-4088
chris.deeney@ipsos.com

The author(s)

  • Chris Deeney Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs

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