Episode 4 – Ashley Deeks on AI and the Laws of War

In this episode, I speak with Ashley Deeks, Professor of Law and Director of the National Security Law Center. Ashley begins by explaining how AI and machine learning may implicate the jus ad bellum regime – being used to assist governments in decision-making around the use of force and the exercise of the right of self-defense. We also discuss briefly the risks associated with the development of artificial general intelligence, and whether international law should play a role in addressing that risk. Conversation then turns to how AI will implicate the law of armed conflict, in terms of both assisting commanders in the field with ensuring their conduct is in compliance with IHL, and also thinking about how IHL might be implemented by coding the rules and principles of IHL into weapons systems. Lots of food for thought!


– “Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and the Use of Force by States,” 10 J. Nat. Sec. L. & Pol. (2019) (with Noam Lubell and Daragh Murray).

– “Predicting Enemies,” 104 VA. L. Rev. (2018).

– “Coding the Law of Armed Conflict: First Steps,” in Matthew C. Waxman ed., The Law of Armed Conflict in 2040 (forthcoming, 2020).

(Some of the material discussed is still in draft form and not yet on-line – watch for them in the upcoming Lieber Blog; and see her SSRN page for more writing on AI.)

Reading Recommendations:

– “How Will Artificial Intelligence Affect International Law?” 114 AJIL Unbound 138 (2020).

– Lisa Shay et al.,Do Robots Dream of Electric Laws? An Experiment in the Law as Algorithm,” in Ryan Calo et al, eds. Robot Law (2016).

– John Allen and Darrell West, Turning Point: Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence (2020).