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.


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”

June 29, 2018

Larry Lewis says, “Harnessing the strengths of industry and academia (is crucial) and that is explicitly called out, it’s not necessarily going to be easy, but including the discussion about ethics and AI safety (so prominently) is going to be an important piece of that.”

Defense & Aerospace Report: “CNA’s Bendett on Russia’s Hunter UAV, Uran-9 UGV, Submarine and UUV Innovation Outlook”

June 29, 2018

Larry Lewis writes, “Even though many civilians encounter the humanitarian tolls of war, there is no public conversation on how applying artificial intelligence to waging war could help ease its tragedies.”

Breaking Defense: “AI for Good in War; Beyond Google’s ‘Don’t Be Evil’”

May 22, 2018

Larry Lewis says, "When people think about AI and autonomy as it applies to war, I think it's helpful to see what's actually out there as opposed to what we might see in Hollywood."

Salem Radio Seattle: "Live From Seattle, Interview with Dr. Larry Lewis"

May 15, 2018

Larry Lewis writes, "It would be worthwhile to think more deeply about how to use AI to reduce the humanitarian tolls of warfare."

Just Security: "AI-4-Good in Warfare"

April 12, 2018

Larry Lewis says, "You can actually create better humanitarian outcomes with AI."

CNA: "CNA Expert Speaks to U.N. Representatives About Lethal Autonomous Weapons"

  • Salem Radio Seattle Interview, May 22