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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy

Drone AS


Disruptive Effects of Autonomy

Rapid advances in autonomous systems raise fascinating behavioral questions. In particular, for the Department of Defense, understanding how factors like trust, risk, and organizational incentives could shape the development, use, and effectiveness of autonomous systems will be critical. In order to answer these questions, experts will need to move beyond the purely technical factors and models of effectiveness traditionally used in military analysis and utilize a broader range of behavioral science tools and organizational theory.

This project seeks to understand the human, organizational, and political factors that will affect the willingness of individuals and bureaucracies to adopt autonomous systems, and the potential consequences of these attitudes. The project team features a diverse set of scholars with unique prior experience and success conducting research on the behavioral, political, and military aspects of uninhabited and autonomous systems. The project will use an innovative, multi-method approach that includes qualitative research, statistical analysis, and survey experiments of the public, foreign policy and military elites, and the artificial intelligence research community.

Project Sponsor

This project is funded by a Minerva Research Grant, which is an initiative by the Department of Defense to support social science research aimed at improving our basic understanding of security. 

Research Team

  • Michael Horowitz, Professor, University of Pennsylvania 
  • Allan Dafoe, Senior Research Fellow in the International Politics of Artificial Intelligence, University of Oxford
  • Julia Macdonald, Assistant Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
  • Jacquelyn Schneider, Assistant Professor, Naval War College