Chatham House recently held a conference on autonomous military technologies, the focus of which was really the current debate regarding autonomous weapon systems. Kudos to Chatham House for leaning forward in this critical area and for bringing together the right mix of people for an engaging and productive conference. The event was held under Chatham House rules, so of course I won’t identify speakers or affiliations, but I want to pass along some reflections from the event, both for those who weren’t able to attend and to continue the discussion among those who did attend.
Below are some of my key takeaways from the conference as well as some thoughts on how these might affect how we think about this debate. This post assumes significant prior knowledge about what an autonomous weapon is and the arguments for and against, so if you’re coming new to this, I would suggest first reading this, this, and this, or you may find yourself a little frustrated. Also, I will restrict my consideration to lethal weapons, since that’s where the discussion at Chatham House focused, but it is worth pointing out that fully autonomous non-lethal anti-personnel weapons also raise challenging issues.
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