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Mapping the Development of Autonomy in Weapon Systems

Mapping the development of autonomy in weapon systems
Publisher: SIPRI
November, 2017

The Mapping the Development of Autonomy in Weapon Systems report presents the key findings and recommendations from a one-year mapping study on the development of autonomy in weapon systems.

The report aims to help diplomats and members of civil society interested in the issue of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS) to improve their understanding of the technological foundations of autonomy, and obtain a sense of the speed and trajectory of progress of autonomy in weapon systems. It provides concrete examples that could be used to start delineating the points at which the advance of autonomy in weapons may raise technical, legal, operational and ethical concerns.

The report is also intended to act as a springboard for further investigation into the possible parameters for meaningful human control by setting out some of the lessons learned from how existing weapons with autonomous capabilities are used. In addition, it seeks to help diplomats and members of civil society to identify realistic options for the monitoring and regulation of the development of emerging technologies in the area of LAWS.

Contents

1. Introduction

2. What are the technological foundations of autonomy?

3. What is the state of autonomy in weapon systems?

4. What are the drivers of, and obstacles to, the development of autonomy in weapon systems? 

5. Where are the relevant innovations taking place?

6. Conclusions

Appendix

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)/EDITORS

Maaike Verbruggen is a doctoral researcher at the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research focuses on the intersection between emerging technologies, military innovation and arms control. She is currently working on a PhD thesis on military innovation in artificial intelligence.
Dr Vincent Boulanin is a Senior Researcher on emerging military and security technologies.