Larry Lewis, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Autonomy and AI


Larry Lewis is the Director of the Center for Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence at CNA. His areas of expertise include lethal autonomy, reducing civilian casualties, identifying lessons from current operations, security assistance, and counterterrorism.

Lewis spent a decade analyzing real world operations as the project lead and primary author for many of DOD's Joint Lessons Learned studies. For example, he was the lead analyst and co-author (with Dr. Sarah Sewall) for the Joint Civilian Casualty Study (JCCS) in support of GEN Petraeus, GEN McChrystal, and ADM Olson (SOCOM); GEN Petraeus described the study as "the first comprehensive assessment of the problem of civilian protection." His other areas of expertise include counterinsurgency and high value targeting in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Colombia, and elsewhere. In addition, he authored the 2012 "Lessons from a Decade of War" report for CJCS. He also served as senior advisor to the Department of State's Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and was on the U.S. delegation to the CCW regarding Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS).

Lewis has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Rice University.


November 6, 2018

Larry Lewis says, “What does human control mean? If it means that humans pull the trigger, that's not always going to have the best outcome because humans make mistakes. For the most humanitarian outcome, you want to leverage both human and machine strengths.”

American University Washington College of Law: “The Fusion of Drones and Artificial Intelligence”

September 20, 2018

Larry Lewis says, “The actions that [the State Department is] talking about in the memo are not the kinds of things that actually help reduce civilian casualties.”

PBS News Hour: “Yemen War’s Civilian Casualties Trigger Questions on Capitol Hill About U.S. Support Role”

September 18, 2018

Larry Lewis writes, “There are four specific actions listed in the memo: (1) use of a No Strike List (NSL), (2) a change to Rules of Engagement (ROE), (3) formation of the Joint Incident Assessment Team (JIAT), and (4) the Saudi government’s commitment to paying for a course on the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and targeting practices.”

Just Security: “Grading the Pompeo Certification on Yemen War and Civilian Protection: Time for Serious Reconsideration”

August 31, 2018

Larry Lewis says, “We have not had more progress in the past few years because we have not sufficiently defined the problem. States and other groups are still talking past one another.”

CAAI Blog: “CNA Statement to UN Group of Government Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, August 29 2018”

August 13, 2018

Larry Lewis says, “It’s not enough for them to identify problems. You have to make changes to operations” that will avoid similar problems in the future.

The Washington Post: “U.S. General Urges Saudi Arabia to Investigate Airstrike That Killed Dozens of Children in Yemen”

August 11, 2018

Larry Lewis says, “There are two main mechanisms for civilian causalities. One is indeed collateral damage. There is a military engagement of what they consider to be a valid target, and then there are civilians who are inadvertently in the area. The other is misidentification, so a military force believes that the target is valid, however, it makes a mistake and inadvertently targets civilians.”

BBC World: “Yemen Air Strike”

  • Salem Radio Seattle Interview, May 22