This chapter explores the way in which the Trump administration has responded to the ongoing Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and examines the implications of this response for Australia. It argues that, although it is too early to determine the longevity of the Trump administration or the long-term coherency of its apparent disdain for military-technical investment as means of improving capability and furthering international partnerships, there is considerable wisdom and potential in any Australian effort to maintain its robust military relations with the United States while simultaneously enhancing its level of techno-strategic autonomy. In terms of RMA-theorising and adaptation, this would concrete Australia’s position as a ‘middle power’ and provide a valuable model for others to emulate as the baton of global technological leadership is passed onto China.
Austin Wyatt and Jai Galliott
Beyond the, admittedly significant, ethical, moral and legal issues raised by increasingly autonomous and remote-operated weapons, it is also important to consider the question of how the proliferation of increasingly Autonomous Weapon Systems (AWS) would influence and, in turn, be propagated by the global arms trade. As the core enabling technologies for Autonomous Weapon Systems (chiefly various forms of Artificial Intelligence) mature, the barriers of entry for potential adopters will continue to fall. The negative consequences of terrorist groups gaining the capacity to remotely strike previously protected targets, of insurgents to offset the traditional military advantages of states, or of smaller states to interfere in the domestic affairs of their neighbours, are becoming increasingly clear. This chapter demonstrates that the avenues for AWS proliferation are already in place and argues that, short of an increasingly unlikely pre-emptive ban under international law, policymakers must act to establish the mutual understandings, definitional agreements and bilateral control regimes that will be necessary to limit the negative impacts of uncontrolled AWS proliferation.