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

Image copyright: US Secretary of Defense [via Flickr]

The Facts

  • 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.

The Spin

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.

Metaculus Prediction

Go Deeper

Establishment split



More neutral establishment stance articles

Sign up to our daily newsletter