US to Counter China's Military Buildup With 'Autonomous Systems'

    US to Counter China's Military Buildup With 'Autonomous Systems'
    Last updated Aug 29, 2023
    Image credit: US Secretary of Defense [via Flickr]


    • US Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks formally announced Monday that the Pentagon plans to field thousands of autonomous systems within two years as part of the ambitious Replicator initiative, which is aimed at countering China in the Indo-Pacific.
    • Speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies conference in Washington, D.C., she stressed that this latest strategy is vital to stay ahead as Beijing has quantitative advantages in ships, missiles, and troops.
    • While America will still leverage more high-end weapons systems, the Replicator initiative is reportedly designed to use cheaper and smarter platforms that are easy to update and put fewer humans in harm's way.
    • Even though specifics were not revealed, Hicks claimed that the Pentagon would use artificial intelligence and autonomous systems responsibly and ethically.
    • Production and delivery of the autonomous systems are projected for the next 18 to 24 months. The initiative is also intended to serve as a template for similar US operations in the future.


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The Pentagon is putting the development of autonomous weapons systems in full gear. This technology keeps soldiers out of harm's way by removing them from the battlefield while allowing military decisions to be made much faster — almost at superhuman speed — thus improving defensive capabilities. The future of warfare is here and will help deter aggression — such as PRC actions toward America and its allies.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Autonomous weapons systems lower the threshold of war by reducing perceived risks and making conflict easier to enter into. Decisions over life and death must always remain in human hands to prevent digital dehumanization and the automation of death. It's imperative to establish boundaries between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable and these systems must be rejected.

    Nerd narrative

    There is an 11% chance that the United States will sign a Treaty on the Prohibition of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems before 2031, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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