November 15, 2017

Should we fear killer robots?

By Paul Scharre

Physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence and "powerful autonomous weapons." Autonomous technology is racing forward, but international discussions on managing the potential risks are already underway.

This week, nations enter the fourth year of international discussions at the United Nations on lethal autonomous weapons, or what some have called "killer robots." The UN talks are oriented on future weapons, but simple automated weapons to shoot down incoming missiles have been widely used for decades.

The same computer technology that powers self-driving cars could be used to power intelligent, autonomous weapons.

Recent advances in machine intelligence are enabling more advanced weapons that could hunt for targets on their own. Earlier this year, Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov announced it was developing a "fully automated combat module" based on neural networks that could allow a weapon to "identify targets and make decisions."

Whether or not Kalashnikov's claims are true, the underlying technology that will enable self-targeting machines is coming.

Read the full op-ed in CNN.

  • Podcast
    • March 12, 2019
    CNAS Tech: How (Not) to Talk About AI & Lethality

    The U.S. Army recently announced its new Advanced Targeting & Lethality Automated System, or ATLAS program. The announcement generated concern and media headlines about the le...

    By Paul Scharre, Kara Frederick & Megan Lamberth

  • Video
    • September 18, 2018
    Will WWIII Be Fought By Robots?

    What will autonomous weapons mean for how future wars are waged and the loss of human lives in armed conflicts? That's the topic of a new book, Army of None: Autonomous Weapon...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • September 13, 2018
    A Million Mistakes a Second

    Militaries around the globe are racing to build ever more autonomous drones, missiles, and cyberweapons. Greater autonomy allows for faster reactions on the battlefield, an ad...

    By Paul Scharre

  • Commentary
    • NBC News
    • August 7, 2018
    Six arrested after Venezuelan president dodges apparent assassination attempt

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was speaking at a military event when a drone carrying plastic explosives detonated on Saturday. CNAS Technology and National Security Dire...

    By Paul Scharre

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia