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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

Inter-connections Between Artificial Intelligence, National and International Security


This study adopts an interdisciplinary approach, by combining computer science, international political economy and security studies, to examine the inter-connections between artificial intelligence (AI), national and international security. AI refers to the use of computers to simulate the behavior of humans that requires intelligence in this project and can be defined as the ability of an artificial agent to achieve goals in a vast array of environments. The field of AI is advancing rapidly, as evidenced by recent dramatic breakthroughs in speech and facial recognition, autonomous robotics and autonomous weapons systems. Despite benefits deriving from AI, serious concerns have been raised about the possibility that future AI developments may result in security risks. For instance, when AI technologies are in service of an authoritarian state for political purposes in the name of safeguarding its national security, what are the risks for civilians in the said state? Moreover, when AI arms race accelerates as countries compete to enjoy the first-mover advantages, what are the repercussions of these competitions for the redistribution of power in the international system and its consequences for global security?

This pilot study sets out to answer these puzzles based on Dr. Chu’s expertise in international relations (IR) and her track record of conducting interdisciplinary and policy relevant studies as well as Dr. Aniello’s expertise in computer science.

There is a growing number of English-language studies examining the relationships between AI, national and international security. While some explore the military applications of AI, others explain how key drivers of AI development in the private sector could rapidly diffuse military applications of AI, given the dual-use nature of these technologies and the mainstream technological trend of spin-on. Still others address how AI can help ensure electronics supply chain security.

However, existing studies have under-theorized the nexus between AI and security, nor have we seen effective cross-fertilization of ideas between scholars from the discipline of computer science and that of IR in order to disentangle AI-security interconnections in a systematic fashion. The study will shed new light on AI-security nexus by filling in this major gap in the literature.

Research methods for the pilot study are two-fold. The first involves the analysis of pertinent secondary materials in English and Chinese. Second, the PI will build on her existing contacts in the global high-tech industries and public policy networks to conduct pilot interviews with experts who have insiders’ knowledge pertaining to the research questions. Additionally, Dr. Chu ad Dr. Aniello will visit several potential collaborators from the fields of computer science and business in other British universities in order to brainstorm ways in which to transcend disciplinary boundaries in order to establish a genuinely interdisciplinary team for a future research undertaking.

Towards the end of the pilot study, both applicants aim to submit an article to a peer-reviewed journal and to apply for a major research grant for the implementation of a larger and more ambitious research undertaking exploring AI, national and international security.


Principal Investigator: Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Co Investigator: Dr Leonardo Aniello

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