PhD researcher Jonathan Kwik sparks debate on AI weapons with groundbreaking dissertation 

Published 19 February 2024

Fresh off his recent cum laude PhD graduation on February 14th, researcher Jonathan Kwik is making waves in the legal and technical communities with his research on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in warfare. His dissertation, exploring the legal implications of AI-powered weapons, has garnered significant media attention, triggering important conversations about the future of armed conflict. 

Several newspapers and publications have featured Kwik's work, highlighting his nuanced approach to this complex issue. Dutch newspaper Het Parool dedicated an article to his research, while UvA student magazine Folia conducted an in-depth interview with him in both Dutch and English, exploring his analysis of the ongoing AI arms race. Additionally, the UvA Faculty of Law published an interview discussing his insights and recommendations for regulating AI weapons. 

Kwik's research delves into the legal grey areas surrounding AI-driven weaponry, arguing that existing international humanitarian law needs reinterpretation to encompass these emerging technologies, rather than new laws. Kwik advocates for a proactive approach, suggesting potential solutions like creating a new manual similar to the Tallinn Manual, which addresses autonomous weapons and other innovative technologies. 

Considering the rapid advancements in AI and the growing concerns surrounding its potential use in warfare, Kwik's work is particularly timely. His dissertation, to be published later this year by T.M.C. Asser Press, promises to be a valuable resource for scholars, policymakers, and anyone interested in navigating the ethical and legal complexities of AI in armed conflict. 

Additionally, several upcoming publications will further amplify Kwik's research: 

  • An article in the International Review of the Red Cross focusing on anti-AI countermeasures is expected later in 2024. 
  • A commercial book based on his dissertation will be published by Asser Press in the third quarter of 2024. 

 Jonathan Kwik's groundbreaking research marks a significant contribution to the debate surrounding AI weapons 

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Researcher Dr Jonathan Kwik specialises in the laws regulating conduct of hostilities and artificial intelligence (AI). On 14 February, he defended his PhD dissertation (cum laude) entitled: ‘Lawfully using autonomous weapon technologies: A theoretical and operational perspective’. Jonathan Kwik: What is often missed by jurists is the factual, concrete understanding of what technology can do and what its limitations are. An interview. Read more.


About Jonathan Kwik 
Jonathan Kwik is a researcher at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut attached to theELSA Lab project. His specialisation is in the laws governing the conduct of hostilities and artificial intelligence (AI). He obtained his doctorate (cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam on the lawful use of AI-embedded weapons at the operational level, under Profs. Tom van Engers, Terry Gill and Harmen van der Wilt. He holds a Master of Laws degree (cum laude) from the University of Groningen in international criminal law and criminology, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Groningen in international law. 
He currently sits as a member of the Board of Experts of the Asia-Pacific Journal of International Humanitarian Law (APJIHL). He is an academic partner of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and has worked together with the ICRC on many occasions in matters of research, policy discussions, and dissemination events. He taught international humanitarian law and public international law at the Soegijapranata Catholic University in Semarang, Indonesia. He has published extensively in the fields of international humanitarian law, targeting law, AI modelling, (international) criminal responsibility and post-conflict reconciliation. 

Upcoming spring academy: Artificial intelligence and international law 
Are you interested in all things AI? From 22 -26 April 2024, the Asser Institute will host its 6th annual spring academy on ‘Artificial intelligence and international law.’ This interdisciplinary training programme offers you an in-depth and comprehensive overview of AI and international law. It will address both the technical and legal aspects of AI, so whether you are a lawyer or a programmer, this academy will offer you the skills and knowledge to advance in your professional or academic career. Seats are limited, so make sure to book your seat now. Read more.  

[Annual Lecture 2024] ‘Connection in a divided world: Rethinking ‘community’ in international law’ by Fleur Johns 
On April 25, professor Fleur Johns, a recognised expert on international law and on the role of automation and digital technology in global legal relations, will deliver the 9th Annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture in the Peace Palace in The Hague. She will explore the concept of ‘community’ in today's international law, especially in the context of humanitarianism. As technology has radically changed the ways in which we connect, communicate, share values with each other, exercise power, and engage in conflict, the concept of ‘community’ in international law is once more in contention. Register now. Read more. 


Dr Jonathan Kwik