DILEMA 2023 Conference: Call for Abstracts

Published 17 April 2023

On 12–13 October 2023, the DILEMA Project is organising a conference around the complex and interdisciplinary issues raised by military applications of artificial intelligence (AI). The potential embedding of AI technologies in weapons systems has been an important subject of scholarly as well as policy debates for many years. More recently, other applications of AI in the military domain, such as AI-driven decision support systems for intelligence, surveillance, risk assessment, detention operations, or target identification, have also received attention. The deployment of AI technologies in a military context raises major legal and ethical concerns, but also opportunities to improve military performance and decision making, and possibly to mitigate harm in armed conflict.

The DILEMA conference will offer a broad platform to engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue around both theoretical and practical questions related to military AI, and feature some of the latest research insights from the fields of law, ethics, computer science, and other disciplines. The conference seeks in particular to promote innovative perspectives that contribute to advancing the boundaries of research in the field of military AI.

The conference will include keynote presentations by invited speakers, as well as panel presentations based on an open call for abstracts. It will be organised around thematic and (to the extent possible) interdisciplinary tracks. The format of the conference will be geared towards fostering dialogue, exchanges, and debates amongst and across disciplines, so as to build some common ground, move the debate forward, and develop new ideas.

We invite contributions from varied disciplines and methodological approaches, including: international law, domestic law, legal theory, critical theory, philosophy, ethics, international relations, military studies, computer science, engineering, behavioural and cognitive sciences, ergonomics, psychology, sociology. Contributions incorporating interdisciplinary considerations are particularly welcome.

Submissions to the conference

We invite submissions of abstracts (maximum 600 words) on topics related to the theme of the conference. The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2023, 23:59 CET.

Topics of interest include:

  • The foundational notion of human agency in relation to AI technologies
  • The relationship and interaction between humans and AI systems
  • Principles, values, and norms to guide and regulate the design and use of military AI
  • The impact of military AI on the assumptions and foundations of law and legal systems
  • The construction of human meaning and understanding in contrast to semantics in AI
  • The impact of the limited predictably, explainability, and foreseeability of AI systems on concepts of risk, reasonableness, negligence, and causation
  • Conceptual implications of the risk of AI systems errors and malfunctions
  • Obligations and responsibility of States, industry, and individuals in the development, procurement, deployment, and regulation of military and dual-use AI
  • Issues of interoperability and responsibility when deploying AI in a multinational setting
  • Human rights law aspects of military AI
  • Opportunities, methods, and limitations of modelling, encoding, and accounting for international law and ethics in the design of military AI systems
  • Testing, verification, certification, and monitoring of military AI systems for ensuring compliance with international law and ethics
  • Presentation and analysis of specific use-cases of AI in the military
  • Military decision-making in practice and implications of the use of AI in this context
  • Challenges and opportunities of human enhancement

Selection criteria:

  • Relevance to the conference
  • Quality and innovativeness of the research
  • Representation and balance of different disciplines, approaches, and topics
  • Diversity and inclusion

The contributions will be reviewed by the conference organisation committee and if necessary by external subject-matter experts. Results of the selection will be communicated by 30 June 2023.

Abstracts presented at the conference will be made available online as conference proceedings. A selection of papers will be considered for publication after the conference in a journal special issue or an edited volume.

The conference will take place at the Asser Institute in The Hague. Selected participants will be expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. In order to promote diversity and inclusion, limited funds will be made available to participants justifying their inability to cover costs through institutional funding.

Organisation Committee

  • Dr Berenice Boutin, Senior Researcher in International Law, DILEMA Project Leader (Asser Institute)
  • Prof. Tom van Engers, Professor of Legal Knowledge Management (University of Amsterdam)
  • Prof. Marten Zwanenburg, Professor of Military Law (University of Amsterdam)
  • Dr Marta Bo, Researcher in International Law (Asser Institute), Associate Senior Researcher (SIPRI)
  • Dr Magdalena Pacholska, Postdoctoral Researcher in International Law, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (Asser Institute)
  • Dr Sadjad Soltanzadeh, Postdoctoral Researcher in Ethics and Philosophy of Technology (Asser Institute)
  • Dr Tomasz Zurek, Postdoctoral Researcher in Computer Science (Asser Institute)
  • Klaudia Klonowska, PhD Researcher in International Law (Asser Institute)
  • Taylor Woodcock, PhD Researcher in International Law (Asser Institute)

DILEMA Project

The conference is organised by the DILEMA project on Designing International Law and Ethics into Military Artificial Intelligence. The DILEMA research project is carried out at the Asser Institute (University of Amsterdam) and funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Launched in 2020, it explores interdisciplinary perspectives on military applications of AI, with a focus on legal, ethical, and technical approaches on safeguarding human agency over military AI.

For more information, visit the project’s website: www.asser.nl/DILEMA