Research articles and other publications by the AutoNorms team
Article in Ethics and Information Technology
Ingvild Bode, Hendrik Huelss, Anna Nadibaidze, Guangyu Qiao-Franco & Tom Watts • 3 February 2023
The AutoNorms team’s article “Prospects for the global governance of autonomous weapons: comparing Chinese, Russian, and US practices”, published in Ethics and Information Technology, argues for the necessity to adopt legal norms on the use and development of autonomous weapon systems (AWS). Without a framework for global regulation, state practices in using weapon systems with AI-based and autonomous features will continue to shape the norms of warfare and affect the level and quality of human control in the use of force. By examining the practices of China, Russia, and the United States in their pursuit of AWS-related technologies and participation at the UN CCW debate, we acknowledge that their differing approaches make it challenging for states parties to reach an agreement on regulation, especially in a forum based on consensus. Nevertheless, we argue that global governance on AWS is not impossible. It will depend on the extent to which an actor or group of actors would be ready to take the lead on an alternative process outside of the CCW, inspired by the direction of travel given by previous arms control and weapons ban initiatives.
Article in The Chinese Journal of International Politics
Guangyu Qiao-Franco & Ingvild Bode • 9 January 2023
In the article “Weaponised Artificial Intelligence and Chinese Practices of Human–Machine Interaction”, published in the Chinese Journal of International Politics, Guangyu Qiao-Franco and Ingvild Bode unpack China’s understanding of human–machine interaction. Despite repeatedly supporting a legal ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), China simultaneously promotes a narrow understanding of these systems that intends to exclude such systems from what it deems “beneficial” uses of AI. This article offers understandings of this ambivalent position by investigating how it is constituted through Chinese actors’ competing practices in the areas of economy, science and technology, defence, and diplomacy. Such practices produce normative understandings of human control and machine autonomy that pull China’s position on LAWS in different directions. Qiao-Franco and Bode contribute to the scholarship bounded by norm research and international practice theories in examining how normativity originates in and emerges from diverse domestic contexts within competing practices. They also aim to provide insights into possible approaches whereby to achieve consensus in debates on regulating LAWS, which at the time of writing have reached a stalemate.
Article published in Journal of Contemporary China
Guangyu Qiao-Franco • 1 December 2022
The article “China’s Artificial Intelligence Ethics: Policy Development in an Emergent Community of Practice”, by Guangyu Qiao-Franco and Rongsheng Zhu from Tsinghua University, has been published in Journal of Contemporary China. Extant literature has not fully accounted for the changes underway in China’s perspectives on the ethical risks of artificial intelligence (AI). This article develops a community-of-practice (CoP) approach to the study of Chinese policymaking in the field of AI. It shows that the Chinese approach to ethical AI emerges from the communication of practices of a relatively stable group of actors from three domains—the government, academia, and the private sector. This Chinese CoP is actively cultivated and led by government actors. The paper draws attention to CoP configurations during collective situated-learning and problem-solving among its members that inform the evolution of Chinese ethical concerns of AI. In so doing, it demonstrates how a practice-oriented approach can contribute to interpreting Chinese politics on AI governance.
Publication of analysis piece
Anna Nadibaidze • 8 September 2022
Writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) blog, Anna Nadibaidze analyses the Russian leadership’s narrative on technological sovereignty. She argues, “The fact that Russia’s leadership is pushing this narrative suggests that the goal is, instead, to provide a sense of ontological security and intensify the belief in Russia’s identity as a great power”. Read the full piece here.
Publication in La Vanguardia
Anna Nadibaidze • 9 June 2022
Anna Nadibaidze contributed to Dossier, a trimestral publication by the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia. Her text “Weaponized Artificial Intelligence in the Nuclear Domain” (translated into Spanish) appeared in Dossier #84, entitled “Nuclear Rearmament”.
Article published in Contemporary Security Policy
Anna Nadibaidze • 19 May 2022
This article proposes an identity-based analysis of the Russian position in the global debate on autonomous weapons systems (AWS). Based on an interpretation of Russian written and verbal statements submitted to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) meetings from 2014 to 2022, I find that two key integral elements of Russian great power identity—the promotion of multipolarity and the recognition of Russia’s equal participation in global affairs—guide its evolving position on the potential regulation of AWS. The analysis makes an empirical contribution by examining one of the most active participants in the CCW discussion, an opponent to any new regulations of so-called “killer robots,” and a developer of autonomy in weapons systems. It highlights the value of a more thorough understanding of the ideas guiding the Russian position, assisting actors who seek a ban on AWS in crafting their responses and strategies in the debate.
The article is available open-access here.
Online publication in Le Rubicon
Anna Nadibaidze • 3 May 2022
In an online piece (in French) published in Le Rubicon, Anna Nadibaidze explores the different pathways available for the regulation of autonomous weapons. She notes the importance of moving forward in the AWS discussion, whether at the UN or as part of an independent process.
Publication of analytical piece in German
Ingvild Bode & Anna Nadibaidze • April 2022
Ingvild Bode and Anna Nadibaidze contributed to the magazine Ct Magazin für Computertechnik with the article “Von wegen intelligent: Autonome Drohnen und KI-Waffen im Ukraine-Krieg” (Not really intelligent: Autonomous Drones and Weaponised AI in the Ukraine War).
Read the article in German here.
Ingvild Bode & Hendrik Huelss • January 2022
Autonomous Weapons Systems and International Norms, by Ingvild Bode and Hendrik Huelss, has been published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.
In Autonomous Weapons Systems and International Norms Ingvild Bode and Hendrik Huelss present an innovative study of how testing, developing, and using weapons systems with autonomous features shapes ethical and legal norms, and how standards manifest and change in practice. Autonomous weapons systems are not a matter for the distant future – some autonomous features, such as in air defence systems, have been in use for decades. They have already incrementally changed use-of-force norms by setting emerging standards for what counts as meaningful human control. As UN discussions drag on with minimal progress, the trend towards autonomizing weapons systems continues.
A thought-provoking and urgent book, Autonomous Weapons Systems and International Norms provides an in-depth analysis of the normative repercussions of weaponizing artificial intelligence.
Report on Russian perceptions of military AI, automation, and autonomy
Anna Nadibaidze • 27 January 2022
In a report published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), Anna Nadibaidze provides an overview of the different conceptions and motivations that have been guiding Russian political and military leaderships in their ambitions to pursue weaponised AI.
The report is available on the FPRI website.
Publication of essay by the GCSP
Anna Nadibaidze • 18 January 2022
Anna Nadibaidze’s essay “Commitment to Control Weaponised Artificial Intelligence: A Step Forward for the OSCE and European Security” was published by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (CGSP). The essay received first prize ex-aequo in the 2021 OSCE-IFSH Essay Competition on Conventional Arms Control and Confidence- and Security-Building Measures in Europe.
Publication of analysis in E-International Relations
Tom Watts • 15 December 2021
Tom Watts co-authored the article “Remote Warfare: A Debate Worth the Buzz?” with Rubrick Biegon and Vladimir Rauta. The piece, published by E-International Relations, explores the different meanings of remote warfare and implications of this analytical concept for future scholarship.
Read it here.
Publication of special issue on remote warfare
Tom Watts • November 2021
Tom Watts co-edited the “Remote Warfare and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century” issue of Defence Studies (Volume 21, Issue 4) along with Rubrick Biegon and Vladimir Rauta. He also co-authored two articles within the special issue:
- (2021) Remote warfare – Buzzword or Buzzkill?, Defence Studies, 21:4, 427-446.
- (2021) Revisiting the remoteness of remote warfare: US military intervention in Libya during Obama’s presidency, Defence Studies, 21:4, 508-527.
Written contribution to the UN CCW Group of Governmental Experts on LAWS
AutoNorms • September 2021
The AutoNorms team submitted a written contribution to the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Emerging Technologies in the Area of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), in preparation for the GGE’s second session which took place 24 September – 1 October 2021. The contribution addressed one of the Chair’s guiding questions, “How would the analysis of existing weapons systems help elaborate on the range of factors that should be considered in determining the quality and extent of human-machine interaction/human control/human judgment?”
Read the contribution here.
Opinion piece in TheArticle
Anna Nadibaidze • 15 September 2021
In an opinion piece for TheArticle, Anna Nadibaidze argues that while the debate on the potential regulation of lethal autonomous weapons systems at the UN is stalling, interested states parties will continue to pursue the development of weaponised artificial intelligence, further contributing to the multi-dimensional challenges brought by these technologies.
Read the piece here.
Publication of analysis in the German-language Ct Magazin für Computertechnik
Ingvild Bode & Tom Watts • September 2021
In a piece published with the German-language magazine Ct Magazin für Computertechnik, Ingvild Bode and Tom Watts examine the role and technical capabilities of some of the drone technologies used by the United States as part of the war in Afghanistan.
Written evidence submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee enquiry on “Tech and the future of UK foreign policy”
Ingvild Bode, Anna Nadibaidze, Hendrik Huelss & Tom Watts • June 2021
The AutoNorms team has submitted to the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee as part of its enquiry on “Tech and the future of UK foreign policy”. The written evidence made a series of recommendations for how the UK Government should act to shape and directly influence AI governance norms. These included calling for the UK to clarify its stance on the role and quality of human control it considers appropriate in the use of force and acknowledging that setting a positive obligation for maintaining human control in specific use of force situations is a crucial step in regulating weaponised AI.
Read the written evidence here.
Analytical essay in Global Cooperation Research – A Quarterly Magazine
Ingvild Bode • April 2021
In this piece Ingvild Bode examines practice theories as an evolving theoretical programme in the discipline of International Relations. She argues that practice theories have much to gain from remaining diverse in their groundings and actively expanding that diversity beyond the current “canon”. She considers engagements with critical security studies, critical norm research, and Science and Technology Studies particularly useful. Bode also argues for a deeper theorisation of how both verbal and non-verbal practices produce and shape norms.
Read the article here.
Analysis in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Ingvild Bode & Tom Watts • 21 April 2021
This analysis piece by Ingvild Bode and Tom Watts summarises their research on air defence systems in the context of the debate on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). They argue that looking at such historic and currently employed systems illustrates pertinent risks associated with their use.
Read the article here.
Publication of a policy report on air defence systems
Ingvild Bode & Tom Watts • February 2021
The policy report “Meaning-less Human Control”, written by Ingvild Bode and Tom Watts and published in collaboration with Drone Wars UK, argues that decades of using air defence systems with automated and autonomous features have incrementally diminished meaningful human control over specific use of force situations. The report argues that this process shapes an emerging norm, a standard of appropriateness, among states. This norm attributes humans a diminished role in specific use of force decisions. However, the international debate on LAWS is yet to acknowledge or scrutinize this norm. If this continues, the potential international efforts to regulate LAWS through codifying meaningful human control will be undermined.
Book chapter on AI, weapons systems, and human control
Ingvild Bode & Hendrik Huelss • 16 February 2021
Ingvild Bode and Hendrik Huelss contributed to the book Remote Warfare: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Alasdair McKay, Abigail Watson and Megan Karlshøj-Pedersen, and published by E-International Relations. Their chapter, “Artificial Intelligence, Weapons Systems and Human Control”, discusses the impact that increasingly autonomous features in weapons systems can have on human decision-making in warfare.
Read the chapter here.
Publication of analysis in The Conversation
Ingvild Bode • 15 October 2020
Writing after the September 2020 discussions of the GGE on LAWS, Ingvild Bode examines the extent to which CCW states parties agree on retaining meaningful human control over the use of force. She argues that many states champion a distributed perspective which considers how human control is present across the entire life-cycle of the weapons. Acknowledging that this reflects operational reality, Ingvild’s analysis also presents drawbacks of this perspective: it runs the risk of making human control more nebulous and distracting from how human control is exerted in specific use of force situations.
Read the article here.
Publication of project description in The Project Repository Journal
Ingvild Bode • July 2020
In this piece Ingvild Bode maps out the research agenda for the ERC-funded AutoNorms project. The article offers a short overview of- AutoNorms’ research background and objectives, as well as the envisaged contribution that the project intends to make over the next five years (pp. 140-143).
Read the article here.