Call for Papers: AI & Warfare

The HIIG and the University of Bonn invite submissions to an international conference on the topic of artificial intelligence and future warfare in Berlin from 16-18 October, 2024. The deadline for the abstracts is: 7th July, 2024



Call for Papers: AI & Warfare

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and the Department of Media Studies, University of Bonn invite submissions to an international conference on the topic of artificial intelligence and future warfare in Berlin from 16-18 October, 2024. The deadline for the abstracts is 7 July, 2024.

An International Conference in Berlin, Germany
16-18 October 2024

To the event page

AI and warfare – Investigating the technological and political domains of current conflicts

Global conflicts and challenges to international security are among the most pressing issues of our time. Artificial intelligence is increasingly shaping the ways in which warfare is conducted, adding both complications and urgency to the issues caused by the current major geopolitical shifts. AI is one of the driving factors of technological change in warfare in general, with its major effects mainly related to new degrees of complexity in automation and new forms of human-machine interaction. On the one hand, this change introduces new capabilities in weapons systems, in particular in the fields of processing information, generating knowledge and the automation of decision-making. Most prominently, this results in a decreasing level of human intervention and control, thereby reshaping the relationship between human operators and autonomous weapons systems. On the other hand, AI-related developments do not only concern the kinetic dimension of warfare but also expand into what military theory calls the ‘information domain’. Shaping and controlling narratives has been an integral part of conflicts and warfare for a long time, with disinformation and propaganda campaigns utilising the most recent (media) technologies for this purpose. The functionality of AI applications will increasingly be integrated in these efforts, as can already be observed with the dissemination of manipulated content on social media. AI-based technologies are also deployed in cyber warfare, which is not limited to the singular hacking of a system, but rather targeted to directly affect whole digital military infrastructures or civilian entities in politics, the economy or research.

The objective of the conference is to explore these domains of modern warfare in order to develop a more accurate picture of the various effects of AI in military contexts. Another goal is to broaden the perspective of the military deployment of AI beyond questions of weapon systems and their control, by particularly looking at adversarial uses of AI in hybrid forms of warfare in the information domain. The conference particularly aims to develop and establish a dialogue between the research on these two domains that are often explored separately. 

Against this background and in this spirit, we invite contributions along the following lines of inquiry:

(1) AI in military technologies and the relationship between humans and machines

The developments of machine learning and automated decision-making in networked and data-rich environments do not simply change weapons systems but rather have to be modelled as elements in complex systems of humans and machines. Military applications of AI, for example, pose various kinds of problems at the level of human control over these systems which can exert potentially lethal effects. They are also at the core of networked information processing (for example to select targets) and decision-making based on complex forms of synthesising data. Information superiority, situational awareness and electronic warfare are crucial issues for an understanding of the contemporary forms of military applications of AI-based weapons systems.

Talks in this section may address historical or contemporary examples for AI-based information processing in military systems and decision making such as target selection, including various forms of cyber liabilities of military networks and infrastructures (for example communication infrastructure as well as logistics or energy supply). It may also explore current technologies based on concepts of human-machine interaction, with questions on the role of interfaces, including battlefield management systems, or human-machine teaming in the interactions between manned and unmanned systems. Relevant contributions in this section may also analyse how research and development of military technologies are informed by larger cultural narratives of AI-enabled weapons.

(2) AI and the relationship between political processes and information warfare

Automated and autonomous forms of information generation and processing also extend deeply into the media systems of societies, its respective militaries, civil institutions and political systems. Corresponding questions concern various forms of automated manipulation of public opinion, via bots or targeted misinformation (including deep fakes) on social media platforms. This domain particularly addresses the political decision-making processes in an information and media environment that is increasingly influenced by AI technologies. 

Talks in this section may address topics such as the use of AI in efforts to manipulate public opinion or political processes as part of hybrid attacks or warfare in the information domain. Besides the use of generative AI in producing manipulated content, phenomena also include AI-enabled mass surveillance, as well as the targeting, profiling and tracing of individuals in exerting power or with manipulative intentions (particularly evoking emotional responses). Other issues concern the question of how these developments challenge the idea of democratic legitimacy or mechanisms of regulation and accountability (e.g. democratic control of autonomous decision-making in military contexts). 

We welcome contributions from scholars of diverse disciplines such as computer science, cultural studies, political science, international relations & security studies, media and communication studies, military studies, psychology, sociology and science and technology studies. Interdisciplinary approaches as well as perspectives from practitioners and developers are also encouraged.

Submission process

Abstracts of approximately 2,500 characters in length (excl. references) should be submitted no later than 7 July, 2024 to AI-warfare[ at ]

Speakers will be notified at the latest by 31 July, 2024.