A short summary of the work of Automated Decision Research in 2023 – a very busy year for our small team.
Resources and events
- In 2023, Automated Decision Research published a report on Convergences in State Positions on Human Control, which presents an examination of convergences in state positions on human control in the context of autonomy in weapons systems and aims to shed light on where states share understandings, in particular in three key areas which provide technical underpinnings for rules on human control in autonomous weapons systems.
- The ADR published an explainer paper on targeting people and digital dehumanisation, which addresses the need for a prohibition on autonomous weapons systems designed or used to target humans, and the digital dehumanisation inherent in such systems.
- The ADR state positions monitor continues to grow, and now features 173 state profiles, with more to come in January. The state positions monitor is updated frequently by the team to capture state positions and relevant statements by state representatives.
- The ADR weapons systems monitor was launched, and currently features 25 different weapons systems. More systems will be added on an ongoing basis. The systems highlighted here feature various levels of autonomy, and not all of these systems are considered to be autonomous weapons systems (in the sense of using sensors to detect and apply force to targets directly). However, they do point to trends and possibilities in increasing autonomy in weapon systems.
- The ADR hosted a virtual workshop on AI and automated decisions in the civil and military spheres at RightsCon.
- The ADR held its first virtual expert roundtable.
- The ADR delivered a statement to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States.
- The ADR held a side event introducing the work of the ADR to diplomats at the CCW Group of Governmental Experts meeting in May, and participated in two side events at the UN General Assembly in October.
- The ADR participated in numerous other events around the world, both virtually and in person, at the invitation of the ICRC, the CARICOM community, and more.
The ADR team continues to monitor news media for reports of the use of autonomous weapons systems (i.e. weapons systems which select and apply force to targets without human intervention on the basis of a generalized target profile) in conflicts around the world. While manufacturers claim that some of the systems mentioned below have certain autonomous functionalities, the extent of such autonomy is often unclear. To date, there are no verified reports of use of such systems in an autonomous target identification, selection, and engagement mode. Our weekly news briefing reports will return in January 2024. If you find a reliable news report on the use of an autonomous weapon system in any of the below conflicts, or elsewhere, please share it with the ADR team.
To date, there are no verified reports of use of autonomous weapons systems by Israel in Gaza. Israel is reportedly using various remotely-controlled drones for reconnaissance, and has requested a number of Switchblade loitering munitions, which currently require a human to confirm the target. It is unclear as to when these systems will be delivered or if that request has already been fulfilled. Israel is also using an artificial intelligence data-processing and target recommendation tool known as ‘Habsoro’ (‘the Gospel’), which is a decision-support system that ‘produces vast amounts of data’. The ADR has provided previous comments to the media on Israel’s development of military AI, available here and here. A number of weapons systems of concern developed by Israeli arms companies are also featured in the weapons monitor.
Ukraine has reportedly used the Saker Scout FPV drone in autonomous mode against pre-programmed military targets, though it is unclear as to the exact extent of this system’s use. The use of loitering munitions and remotely-controlled drones by Russia and by Ukraine continues. Russia has reportedly used systems such as the KUB/KYB loitering munition and the Lancet loitering munition. Ukraine has used systems such as the Switchblade loitering munition and the Bayraktar TB2 UAV. Ukraine is also using an artificial intelligence data-processing and target recommendation tool. The ADR has provided previous comments to media on the use of military AI by Russia and Ukraine here.
- Iraq and Syria
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