Started Aug 24, 2021 01:30PM UTC   •   Closing Aug 24, 2022 11:00AM UTC

Will the U.S. military acknowledge using an autonomously operated drone to identify and deploy lethal force against a human target in the next four quarters (year)?

This question is a metric for an issue campaign on the future of the DoD-Silicon Valley relationship. To learn more about this issue campaign and the relevance of this question, see the campaign's subpage and a related blog post

Related questions. A similar question on Elicit asks about the chance any government will use a lethally autonomous drone by 2022. 

Context. How and whether lethally autonomous weapons (LAWS) should be used in war has become a lightning rod for debate. According to a Congressional Research Service report, although the U.S. does not currently have LAWS in its inventory, U.S. policy does not prohibit the development or deployment of LAWS. As reported in Wired, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on drone swarm technology, and several military commanders have expressed interest in "giving autonomous weapons systems more agency."

The United Nations reported the first use of a lethal autonomous drone in Libya in March 2021, the Kargu-2, an attack drone made by a Turkish company. Whether the Kargu-2 was being used manually or autonomously at the time of the attack is unclear, however.

Data and resolution details. This question resolves based on a statement by a person or entity with authority to speak on the matter. To qualify, a drone must meet the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) definition for an autonomous weapons system: "A weapon that can select (i.e. search for or detect, identify, track, select) and attack (i.e. Use force against, neutralise, damage or destroy) targets without human intervention.” It must also have been used autonomously during the attack cycle.

Question format. This question asks about the four-quarter period (year) beginning with the following quarter. For example, a forecast made on November 15 (Q3) is forecasting January (Q1) through December (Q4) of the following year. It rolls over at the beginning of every quarter: January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1, functionally becoming a new question. To learn more about our new rolling risk question formats, see this blog post.

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