Research Article

Topics: Events

The Algorithmic Turn in Security and Warfare

Alexa Steinbrück / Better Images of AI / Explainable AI / CC-BY 4.0

On 6 – 7 January 2022, the AutoNorms project and the Center for War Studies (CWS) held the virtual conference “The Algorithmic Turn in Security and Warfare”.  

Functional applications of artificial intelligence (AI) based upon machine learning algorithms are in the process of fundamentally reshaping a diverse range of social, business, legal, and political fields. The AutoNorms project hosted a conference, with funding from the Carlsberg foundation, to bring together world-leading researchers to discuss this ‘algorithmic turn’ in a variety of different security settings: surveillance, predictive policing, drones, and autonomous weapon systems (AWS), as well as policy debates surrounding these developments at the national, regional and international levels. The keynote lecture “The Hacker Way: Moral Decision Logics with Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems” was delivered by Dr. Elke Schwarz, and a mentoring session for participating PhD researchers was also provided. 

The presenters, who represented 18 different institutions from Europe and the United States, brought together a variety of perspectives such as International Relations, Science and Technology Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Security and Conflict Studies, and International Law. Find the full programme here.

Topics of discussion included the concept of human control in military applications of AI, the role of the private sector in shaping understandings of AI, cyber operations and cross-domain warfare, socio-technical imaginaries of AI and its representations in popular culture, moral challenges to algorithmic warfare, and many others. The audience consisted of scholars and practitioners from academia, think tanks, and civil society.  

The AutoNorms team thanks all the presenters and participants who joined the virtual conference and contributed to these enriching debates. We look forward to providing a forum to continue these discussions into the future and organizing the publication of a special issue on these crucially important issues. 

You can watch the keynote lecture by Dr. Elke Schwarz on the CWS YouTube channel.

Featured image credit: Alexa Steinbrück / Better Images of AI / Explainable AI / CC-BY 4.0

Share this article

Related articles

Alexa Steinbrück / Better Images of AI / Explainable AI / CC-BY 4.0
Human - Machine Interaction

A Question of Trust? New US Initiatives to Tackle the Human Control Problem

A lack of or a substantially diminished quality of human control is often understood as the major problem associated with military AI. The US Department of Defense (DoD) ‘Directive 3000.09’ that was released in 2012 as one of the first political documents on autonomy in weapon systems, for example, states

Read More »
Political Process

‘Responsible AI’ in the Military Domain: Implications for Regulation

This blog is based on the regulation subpanel of the Realities of Algorithmic Warfare breakout session, held at the REAIM Summit 2023. Watch the full breakout session here. The global debate on military applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy is gradually expanding beyond autonomous weapon systems (AWS) towards the

Read More »


An international research project examining weaponised artificial intelligence, norms, and order​

Research Themes

Recent Articles

Weapons Systems Data