Assessing autonomous weapons as a proliferation risk

Think tank: RUSI

Author(s): Paul O’Neill; Sam Cranny-Evans; Dr Sarah Ashbridge

February 8, 2024

This report from UK think tank RUSI assesses autonomous weapons as a proliferation risk.

Lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) will cause problems for armed forces, but the absence of an agreed definition complicates attempts to regulate and control their proliferation.

LAWS are not a single capability. Hence, this paper considers the risks associated with LAWS based on the likelihood and impact of their proliferation in relation to three broad categories: minimum viable product (MVP); military off the shelf (MOTS); and boutique.

The sophistication of these systems differs significantly, as do the risks each pose and the demands they place on users, all of which has an impact on the proliferation risk.