Strategic Review

Key Strategic Questions Related to Cyber-Enabled Autonomous Weapons Systems

May 2019 | Author: Caitríona Heinl

UntitledWhile existing technological capabilities continue to conceptually challenge security strategies, emerging technologies and potential exponential leaps related to AI, machine learning, big data and computing power are maturing in a complex manner, calling human comprehension into question. The focus at UN level under the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) has mainly surrounded physical, albeit AI-enabled, autonomous weapons systems (rather than cyber systems). Nonetheless, the former Chair of this group is now co-Lead of the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation which has a mandate to consider cooperation across subject domains to safeguard against unintended consequences. Several strategic questions which stakeholders should still consider include, are: (1) How can commercial and civilian benefits vis-à-vis potential military use be guaranteed?; (2) What will these technological developments mean for global affairs and balance of power questions?; (3) What are the real opportunities and risks associated with these technologies?; and (4) In terms of machine learning, what do unpredictable outputs which can be produced by unpredictable inputs mean for strategic certainty?

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