How autonomous are autonomous weapons? Do they exist in reality? And in what ways do fictional characters like the Terminator shape how we think about this technology? These questions were at the centre of the HIIG conference Autonomous Weapon Systems – Realities and Imaginations of Future Warfare. Christoph Ernst (University of Bonn) and HIIG researcher Thomas Christian Bächle give an overview of what we can learn about technical autonomy from looking at these weapons systems.