February 25, 2015

Next-Generation Drone Warfare: Interview with Paul Scharre

Featuring Paul Scharre

Prior to joining OSD, Mr. Scharre served as a special operations reconnaissance team leader in the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion and completed multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Scharre has published articles in Proceedings, Armed Forces Journal, Joint Force Quarterly, Military Review, and in academic technical journals.

Assistant Editor John Waters: In CNAS’ recent working paper, “An Introduction to Autonomy in Weapon Systems,” an autonomous system is defined as a machine that performs some task or function on its own. Based on the complexities of robotic judgment and decision-making, do you foresee the greatest potential for autonomous drones in force protection, surveillance and reconnaissance, precision targeting, logistics/troop transport, command and control (C2) or combat roles? Why? 

Paul Scharre: I think autonomous systems will be useful for all of these tasks. Autonomy shouldn’t be thought of as a niche feature. It will be fundamental to future military systems, like communications or propulsion. The industrial revolution brought about powerful machines on land, in the air, and on and under the sea. The internal combustion engine wasn’t limited to only some military roles. We’re in the middle of an analogous shift today. The information revolution is making machines – both hardware and software – smarter. That will be useful in nearly every aspect of military operations.
Read the full article at Real Clear Defense.


  • Paul Scharre

    Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

    Paul Scharre is the Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at CNAS. He is the award-winning author of Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence...