War Algorithms: Who Will Decide in Future Conflicts?

REality Check Security and Law
Tobias Vestner and Ashley Deeks

War Algorithms: Who Will Decide in Future Conflicts?

A Reality Check with Ashley Deeks

On 21 May, the Security and Law team at the GCSP organised a Reality Check to explore the main questions concerning the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in armed conflict.

To tackle the core problems and try to provide solutions, the GCSP invited Ashley Deeks, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia and member of the U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law. The event was moderated by Tobias Vestner, Head of Security and Law at the GCSP and was largely participated, with a rich discussion and stimulating inputs from the audience

The debate revolved around two questions that need to be answered before being able to enquire further into the application of international law to AI: Can we develop algorithms capable of being applied consistently with States’ international obligations? And if so, can we ensure that those tools enhance - but do not substantively replace - critical human decision-making about people’s lives, bodily integrity, and freedom?

Algorithms will affect decision-making in war, particularly on matters such as detention, patrolling, and targeting in armed conflict, as well as on the resort to force in international relations. We need to think of these answers now to be able to make the right choice tomorrow.


Watch the video of the event


Security and Law: A Reality Check is the event series to address how international law matters in security affairs. It aims to critically assess if current norms fit contemporary and future security challenges, how international commitments can effectively be implemented, and how new international law can successfully be shaped.