AI Initiative
The Ethics + Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative



AI Initiative Supporting Independent Analysis on the Algorithms of War

We’re excited to announce today that the AI Initiative will be supporting researchers Naz Modirzadeh and Dustin Lewis in a two-year research program that will work to strengthen international debate and inform policy-making on the ways that artificial intelligence and algorithms are reshaping war.

Naz and Dustin are part of HLS PILAC — the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict — which has focused their work on the accountability of “war algorithms” over the last few years.

Much discussion on the role of international frameworks at the interface of war and AI has centered on the embedding of machine learning in robotics and other physical systems involved in military attacks. However, the applications of these breakthroughs are likely significantly broader. We think it is important to continue to expand the aperture of the public debate to incorporate these developments, and for policymakers to be informed about the wide range of impacts the technology is poised to have.

This $280,000 grant will support the HLS PILAC team in working — from the standpoint of international law — towards better informed and more evidence-based legal-policy discussion and debate on enduring and emerging issues concerning algorithms and armed conflict. This includes comparative research work into how war algorithms are being designed and deployed in different regions and countries, and exploring approaches to testing and validating these technologies in the context of international law. You can read more about the project here.

Tim Hwang