DILEMA 2023 Conference

Published 1 July 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.

Registrations for this conference are now closed.


Thursday 12 October 2023
09:15 – 09:45     Arrival and registration
09:45 – 10:00     Opening
10:00 – 11:00     Keynote Lecture: Professor Noam Lubell (University of Essex)
11:30 – 13:00     Panel 1: Compliance and Responsibility in Relation to Military AI
13:00 – 14:00     Lunch
14:00 – 15:30     Panel 2: Human-Machine Interaction in Military Decision-Making
16:00 – 17:15     Panel 3: The Impact of Military AI on Conflict

Friday 13 October 2023
09:45 – 10:45     Keynote Lecture: Dr Elke Schwarz (Queen Mary University London)
11:15 – 12:30     Panel 4: The Impact of Military AI on Discourses and Doctrines
12:30 – 13:30     Lunch
13:30 – 14:45     Panel 5: Military AI and the Reconfiguration of Human Agency
15:15 – 16:45     Panel 6: Governance of Military AI
16:45 – 17:00     Closing
17:00 – 18:30     Reception

Download the full programme

Download the conference materials booklet

Keynote speakers

Professor Noam Lubell (University of Essex)
Noam Lubell is a Professor in the School of Law, University of Essex, and is the Director of the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub. He was Head of the Law School from 2014 to 2017. Between 2013-2019 Prof Lubell held the Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law at The Geneva Academy, and from 2010 to 2018 he was the Rapporteur of the International Law Association's Committee on the Use of Force. Prof Lubell is a Senior Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the US, working on the legal aspects of new military technologies. He is also a Research Associate at the Federmann Cyber Security Research Center, Hebrew University. He has taught courses on international human rights law and the laws of armed conflict in the UK, Ireland, US, Israel, and Switzerland. Prior to his academic career, from the late 1990s until 2005 he worked with human rights NGOs and legal clinics on issues of protection during armed conflict. Prof Lubell has been a member of numerous expert groups and consultations with governments, the ICRC and the UN on topics such as the law of occupation, self-defence, the scope of the battlefield, and autonomous weapon systems, and is the author of the book ‘Extraterritorial Use of Force Against Non-State Actors’ (Oxford University Press). He co-led a five-year project in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross, to produce the “Guidelines on Investigating Violations of International Humanitarian Law.”

Dr Elke Schwarz (Queen Mary University London)
Dr Elke Schwarz is Reader (Associate Professor) in Political Theory at Queen Mary University London. Her research focuses on the intersection of ethics of war and ethics of technology with an emphasis on unmanned and autonomous / intelligent military technologies and their impact on the politics of contemporary warfare. She is the author of ‘Death Machines: The Ethics of Violent Technologies’ (Manchester University Press), is an RSA Fellow, a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), 2022/23 Fellow at the Center for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies (CAPAS) in Heidelberg and 2024 Leverhulme Research Fellow. Her work has been published in a number of philosophical and security focused journals, including Philosophy Today, Security Dialogue, Critical Studies on Terrorism and the Journal of International Political Theory among others. She is co-series editor for the Springer Verlag series: Frontiers in International Relations and Associate Editor for the Journal New Perspective.

Organisation Committee

  • Dr Berenice Boutin, Senior Researcher in International Law, DILEMA Project Leader (Asser Institute)
  • Dr Marta Bo, Senior Researcher in International Law (Asser Institute), Associate Senior Researcher (SIPRI)
  • Prof. Tom van Engers, Professor of Legal Knowledge Management (University of Amsterdam)
  • Klaudia Klonowska, PhD Researcher in International Law (Asser Institute)
  • 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)
  • Taylor Woodcock, PhD Researcher in International Law (Asser Institute)
  • Dr Tomasz Zurek, Postdoctoral Researcher in Computer Science (University of Amsterdam), Associate Fellow (Asser Institute)
  • Prof. Marten Zwanenburg, Professor of Military Law (University of Amsterdam)

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