April 07, 2016

CNAS Launches Briefing and Infographics on Autonomous Weapons


Washington, April 7 — In advance of next week’s global meetings on autonomous weapons, the Center for a New American Security is releasing a briefing report and infographic on autonomous weapons and human control. Many nations are building increasingly autonomous next-generation robotic and uninhabited systems on the ground, in the air, and at sea. How much autonomy will they have? How much should they have?Paul Scharre and Kelley Sayler of CNAS’ Ethical Autonomy Project examine how autonomy is used in current and future weapons and prospects for human control.
The briefing report and infographic are available here:

Please find an overview of the briefing below:

Next week, nations from around the world will meet at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss autonomous weapons, potential future weapons that would select and engage targets on their own. Ensuring “meaningful human control” over future weapons has been a topic of much debate, with some human rights activists advocating for a preemptive ban. Increasing autonomy in weapons raises the question of how much human involvement is required in lethal attacks.

In this brief, Scharre and Sayler explain how autonomy is already used in many weapons today and how future fully autonomous weapons would be different. Autonomous weapons would be programmed by humans and launched by a human. Once launched, however, the weapon would have the freedom to select its own targets over a wide area according to preprogramed parameters, raising new legal, ethical, and safety questions.

Scharre and Sayler are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at nurwitz@cnas.org or 202-457-9409.