The Disruptive Effects of Autonomy

How Autonomous Systems are Reshaping the World

Our Partnership

As autonomous systems take an increasingly central role in a wide variety of arenas, it's essential that we work to understand the human, organizational and political factors that will govern their use. To accomplish this, we partnered with the University of Pennsylvania. We believe the research and ingenuity achieved by collaborating with partners is essential to help understand current trajectories and create informed policy.

About Our Research

We leverage cross-institutional collaboration to address some of today’s most pressing challenges, producing interdisciplinary solutions that influence policymakers to effectively serve the public good. From Stanford to UChicago to NYU, we’ve refined our collaborative process through years of mutually beneficial relationships with institutions nationwide to understand and address challenges like climate change, HIV and youth homelessness.

DU’s current research efforts have been featured in news outlets like The New York Times. They include…

  • exploring the effects of felony disenfranchisement.
  • employing lasers as the medium for quantum science.
  • using theatre to heal and rehabilitate inmates.

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About the Project

This project worked to understand the ways in which factors like trust, risk and organizational incentives can shape the development, use and effectiveness of autonomous systems. We also examined the attitudes of individuals and bureaucracies around these systems, particularly as they relate to willingness to adopt said systems.

Our team was made up of a diverse set of uniquely qualified scholars with deep knowledge on the behavioral, political and military aspects of autonomous systems. Methods used in the project included qualitative research, statistical analysis and survey experiments, and worked with populations in public, foreign policy and military spheres, as well as the artificial intelligence research community.

The project was a collaboration between researchers at the University of Denver, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University and the U.S. Naval War College.

Discover Research at DU

Julia Macdonald

Julia Macdonald is an assistant professor at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Her work focuses on state threat assessments, use of force decisions, and U.S. military strategy and effectiveness, and has been published in journals like Security Studies, the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Strategic Studies, Texas National Security Review, Foreign Policy Analysis and Armed Forces and Society, as well as various policy outlets.