April 23, 2019

Paul Scharre Wins Colby Award for Book “Army of None”

Washington, April 23, 2019 – The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) congratulates Paul Scharre, Director of the CNAS Technology and National Security Program, who has won the 2019 William E. Colby Award for his book Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War. Now in its 20th year, the Colby prize is awarded annually by Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., to a first solo work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs. Scharre joins former CNAS CEO Nate Fick as a recipient of the Colby Award.

Army of None explores what could happen when next-generation weapons change warfare. In a fast-paced and exciting non-fiction narrative, Scharre examines the role of artificial intelligence, autonomous weapons, the complex legal and ethical issues involved, and their growing use worldwide. Combining military history, philosophy, science, and global policy with interviews with defense experts, activists, analysts, and psychologists, Scharre argues that technology should be utilized when it provides benefits and makes war more humane, spares civilian lives, and increases precision, but that autonomous technology is no replacement for human empathy, judgment, and decisionmaking.

“We’re extremely proud of Paul,” said CNAS Executive Vice President Ely Ratner. “His award-winning work on the role of autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence in the future of warfare is truly monumental. This Colby Award is well deserved and a timely recognition of the importance of this topic.

Scharre, a former U.S. Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, played a leading role in establishing policies on unmanned and autonomous systems and emerging weapons technologies while working in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2008–2013 before joining CNAS.

“I'm incredibly humbled and honored that Army of None was chosen for the 2019 Colby Award,” Scharre said. In a review of Army of None on his GatesBlog, Bill Gates wrote, “It’s the book I had been waiting for. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Scharre is a great thinker who has both on-the-ground experience and a high-level view.”

Named for the late ambassador and former CIA director William E. Colby, the Colby Award recognizes a first solo work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the public’s understanding of intelligence operations, military history or international affairs. The William E. Colby Award began at Norwich University in 1999.

Previous recipients of the Colby Award include Nisid Hajari, Thomas McKenna, James Bradley, Nathaniel Fick, Jack Jacobs, Dexter Filkins, Marcus Luttrell, John Glusman, Karl Marlantes, and Steven Sodergren.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Scharre, please contact Cole Stevens at cstevens@cnas.org or call 202-695-8166.