Automated Decision Research (ADR) was at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this month, as part of #VoteAgainstTheMachine, garnering support from states for the first-ever resolution on autonomous weapons at the UNGA. The resolution, tabled by Austria at the First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, is co-sponsored by a cross-regional group of more than 40 states. The resolution will mandate the UN Secretary General to seek the views of all states and stakeholders, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, scientific communities, industry and civil society on addressing the legal, ethical, humanitarian and security risks associated with autonomous weapons systems, and to submit a substantive report on the way forward.
ADR participated in two side events at UNGA. On the 17th October, Austria hosted a side event on autonomous weapons and human control, chaired by Alexander Kmentt, Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Nonproliferation Department at the Austrian Foreign Ministry. ADR manager Catherine Connolly featured on the panel, with Dr. Beyza Unal, Head of the Science, Technology and International Security Unit at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs; Brady Mabe, Legal Advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross; and Peter Asaro, Associate Professor at The New School, New York. The panel discussed the risks and challenges associated with autonomous weapons systems, and the importance of meaningful human control over the use of force.
On 18th October, in a side event hosted by Belgium, ADR participated in a panel with PAX titled ‘Autonomous Weapons: State positions, weapons systems and technological trends’. At this event, Daan Kayser, project leader on autonomous weapons at PAX, presented a new report, ‘Increasing Complexity: Legal and moral implications of trends in autonomy in weapons systems,’ which looks at a number of trends related to autonomy in weapons systems (artificial intelligence, automatic target recognition and swarming) and the questions they raise about how meaningful human control can be retained. The ADR team presented on the growing consensus on human control among states as reflected in statements at relevant international fora on disarmament. Further, we presented the state positions monitor on a legally binding instrument on autonomous weapons, which now indicates that over 100 states support the negotiation of a legally binding instrument.
In our latest effort to create reliable research and monitoring on autonomous weapon systems, we also launched our weapon systems monitor. This resource features examples of weapons systems, either already existing or announced as in development, with features that are informative to considerations around autonomy in weapons systems. The weapon “profiles” feature an overview of the development, use and capabilities of each weapon system featured, with specific focus on autonomous features capable of performing critical functions in the weapon system. Further, we also feature capabilities and specifications such as intended use, size, weight, max time of operation, speed, and payloads, where available.
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