When speed kills : lethal autonomous weapon systems, deterrence and stability
Michael C. Horowitz
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Journal of strategic studies, vol. 42, issue 6, 22 August 2019, p.764-788
While the applications of artiﬁcial intelligence (AI) for militaries are broad, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) represent one possible usage of narrow AI by militaries. Research and development on LAWS by major powers, middle powers and non-state actors makes exploring the consequences for the security environment a crucial task. This article draws on classic research in security studies and examples from military history to assess the potential development and deployment of LAWS, as well as how they could inﬂuence arms races, the stability of deterrence, including strategic stability, the risk of crisis instability and wartime escalation. It focuses on these questions through the lens of two characteristics of LAWS: the potential for increased operational speed and the potential for decreased human control over battleﬁeld choices. It also examines how these issues interact with the large uncertainty parameter associated with potential AI-based military capabilities at present, both in terms of the range of the possible and the opacity of their programming.
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