April 28, 2015

Postgame: the U.N. Debate on Lethal Robots

By Kelley Sayler

From April 13 to 17, the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons convened a meeting of experts on lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), attended by over 90 states and 15 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  This meeting was intended to build upon the first round of expert meetings, held in May 2014, and foster discussion of the technical, ethical, and legal issues related to LAWS.  The meeting featured a combination of expert presentations and statements from participants, as well as daily side events hosted by NGOs.

While states were more engaged in the proceedings—and discussion was more focused—than during the 2014 meeting, it was clear that states held widely divergent views on the nature of autonomous weapons. For some, many existing drones qualify as LAWS. For others, only those systems capable of autonomous target selection and engagement qualify.  For still others, only adaptive learning systems that exhibit human-level cognition would qualify as LAWS.

Read the full op-ed at Bard College.

  • Podcast
    • April 29, 2021
    Fire and Ice

    In this week’s edition of the SpyTalk podcast, Jeff Stein goes deep on the CIA’s looming eviction from Afghanistan with Lisa Curtis, a longtime former CIA, State Department an...

    By Lisa Curtis, Jeff Stein, Jeanne Meserve & Alma Katsu

  • Reports
    • April 28, 2021
    Principles for the Combat Employment of Weapon Systems with Autonomous Functionalities

    Introduction An international debate over lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) has been under way for nearly a decade.1 In 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued for...

    By Robert O. Work

  • Podcast
    • March 25, 2021
    Are ‘killer robots’ the future of warfare?

    Paul Scharre joins host Suzanna Kianpour to discuss the technology, fears and even potential advantages of developing autonomous weapons. Listen to the full conversation from...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • Texas National Security Review
    • June 2, 2020
    The Militarization of Artificial Intelligence

    Militaries are racing to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) with the aim of gaining military advantage over competitors. And yet, there is little understanding of AI’s long-te...

    By Paul Scharre

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia