Workshop: Critical Reflections on AI Ethics Principles and Societal Inputs for the Governance of Military AI

Published 5 April 2023

On Wednesday 26 April, the DILEMA Project of the Asser Institute, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and the Battlefield AI Project of the University of New South Wales Canberra (Australia) are co-organising a Workshop on Critical Reflections on AI Ethics Principles and Societal Inputs for the Governance of Military AI. The goal of this workshop is to address some practical, legal and ethical aspects of developing and utilising societally informed ethics principles for the governance of military AI. 

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In recent years, ‘AI ethics principles’ have emerged as an instrument for the governance of military applications of artificial intelligence (AI). These documents can be developed by groups of experts and policy makers, or through experimentation or consultation with the general public or relevant stakeholders. Each initiative proposes a list of ‘principles’, values, guidelines or descriptions of best practices that can be action guiding and promote responsible design, development and use of military AI. While these initiatives provide frameworks against which decisions and practices of individuals, institutions and states can be assessed, their normative role is unclear, and they remain legally non-binding.  

What is the place and utility of AI ethics principles in juxtaposition to existing legal and other normative frameworks? What roles can or should the general public or relevant stakeholders play in the creation of these lists of principles? What are the social and cultural implications of creating ‘lists’ to promote responsible behaviour? And what conceptual and practical issues should be considered in the development of AI principles?

Examples of surveys for identifying relevant societal values for the governance of military AI, are:


10:00 – 10:15 Welcome and Introductions

10:15 – 11:15 Presentations

  • The Role of ‘AI Ethics Principles’ from the Perspective of International Law
    Dr Berenice Boutin (Asser Institute)
  • Military AI Ethics Principles to Practice: Some Initial Challenges
    Dr Alexander Blanchard (Alan Turing Institute)
  • State Approaches in the LAWS GGE to Ethics Through the Martens Clause
    Professor Rain Liivoja (University of Queensland) and Dr Lauren Sanders (University of Queensland)
  • Gathering Societal Values to Inform the Ethical Design of Autonomous Systems in Defence
    Dr Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken (UNSW, Canberra) and Dr Shannon Spruit (Populytics)

11:30 – 12:30 Panel Discussion

All times are in Central European Summer Time


  • Dr Alexander Blanchard (Digital Ethics Research Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute)
  • Dr Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken (Senior Researcher in Ethics of Technology at the University of New South Wales, Canberra)
  • Dr Berenice Boutin (Senior Researcher in International Law at the Asser Institute and DILEMA Project Leader)
  • Professor Rain Liivoja (Professor and Deputy Dean (Research) at the University of Queensland Law School)
  • Dr Lauren Sanders (Senior Research Fellow at the Law and Future of War project at the University of Queensland Law School)
  • Dr Shannon Spruit (Co-founder and Director Projects at Populytics)


Date: Wednesday 26 April 2023
Time: 10:00–12:30 Central European Summer Time, 18:00–20:30 Australian Eastern Time
Format: Hybrid
Venue: Asser Institute (Zeestraat 100, The Hague) and online

Register here