This emerging reality has prompted debate—in places ranging from the Pentagon to the United Nations—on the need for policies, regulations, or, as some even argue, preemptive bans on AWS. Yet, to date only the US and its close partner the UK have created actual policies regarding those weapons, albeit limited. Both countries allow research to move forward on AWS, but set a goal to limit their deployment without appropriate human judgment or meaningful human control. In the US, the policy also has an out clause, allowing us to build and use the tech, if senior leadership deems it necessary.
But this loose policy terminates in 2017. It will either have to be renewed, amended, or let lapse. Even making no decision would be momentous, as it would signal full entry into an unregulated world of autonomous weapons.