To succeed in the battlespace, the United States must field autonomous weapons. This is the argument Deputy Secretary of Defense Katherine Hicks made in a speech on August 28:
“To stay ahead, we’re going to create a new state of the art—just as America has before—leveraging attritable, autonomous systems in all domains—which are less expensive, put fewer people in the line of fire, and can be changed, updated, or improved with substantially shorter lead times.”
Many defense professionals are largely in agreement with this statement, but there remains a significant anti-autonomy coalition that continues to argue that the use of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS)—particularly drones—is immoral. From “slaughterbots” videos intended to inflame public fear to international conferences, these groups have argued strenuously that LAWS are simply not acceptable to a moral nation.
These groups are wrong. Indeed, it is morally imperative for the United States and other democratic nations to develop, field, and, if necessary, use autonomous weapons.
Read the rest at the Atlantic Council here.
Dr. T.X. Hammes is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect those of the National Defense University or the Department of Defense.