Platform Wars: Technology, Politics and Law on the Automated Battlefield.
AbstractPlatform companies such as Alphabet-Google, Meta en Amazon are central to recent transformations affecting our social relations, business transactions and governmental decisions. These same companies are also increasingly affecting how our wars are 'thought', fought and lived. However, their exact role within warfare remains poorly understood. My project introduces the novel concept of "platform wars" to theorize how platform companies propel new ways of thinking about and organizing political violence. Through my conceptualization of platform wars, I investigate how these emerging corporate-military networks produce new and shared ways of (i) thinking about, (ii) practicing, and (iii) regulating political violence. My project produces innovative conceptual knowledge, but it also delivers rich empirical knowledge on the social interactions between corporate and military actors, and how these shape new technologies and practices of warfighting. This knowledge is highly relevant from a political and ethical-legal perspective and crucial in order to intervene in the future regulation of these technologies and their use in armed conflict.
- Research Project
Sustainability and Trust in EU Multilevel Governance (STRATEGO).
AbstractGiven the current tenuous state of trust between institutions and actors at different levels in the EU governance system, the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence STRATEGO aims to teach, research and disseminate knowledge on the dynamics, causes and effects of trust between the actors and institutions involved in EU multi-level governance of sustainable development, with a focus on business and entrepreneurship, climate and biodiversity, and health policies. This empirical scope of STRATEGO connects with the UN's sustainable development goals, the policy priorities of the European Commission and the priorities of the Erasmus+ programme. STRATEGO will develop interdisciplinary synergies on EU governance, trust and sustainable development by bridging teaching, research and outreach efforts across disciplines at the University of Antwerp. Throughout all activities, STRATEGO will go beyond the usual producers and consumers of EU studies. It will bring EU governance knowledge of the Social Sciences, Law and Economics faculties to students and staff of the Science and Health Sciences faculties, and it will reach out beyond the academic environment to foster a dialogue with professionals, civilsociety and the general public. In terms of teaching, STRATEGO will ensure interdisciplinarity through guest lectures, joint supervision of bachelor and master theses and innovative formats such as simulations and micro-credentials. In terms of research, STRATEGO will bring together staff from various disciplines through research seminars, PhD masterclasses and a visiting scheme for early career scholars. In terms of outreach beyond the academic context, STRATEGO will organise activities such as thematic webinars, outreach workshops and activities for specific audiences such as secondary schools.
- Promoter: Bursens Peter
- Co-promoter: Beutels Philippe
- Co-promoter: De Bièvre Dirk
- Co-promoter: Hoijtink Marijn
- Co-promoter: Matthysen Erik
- Co-promoter: Meeusen Johan
- Co-promoter: Meier Petra
- Co-promoter: Popelier Patricia
- Co-promoter: Vanderstraeten Johanna
- Co-promoter: Van Dooren Wouter
- Co-promoter: van Zimmeren Esther
- Co-promoter: Verhoest Koen
- Co-promoter: Vicca Sara
- Co-promoter: Wynen Jan
- Research Project
- Education Project
Deadly Design: The politics of Engineering Lethal Autonomous Weapons.
AbstractLethal autonomous weapons (LAWS), or "killer robots," have become the subject of much debate. On the one hand, proponents of LAWS see advantages in increasing the level of autonomy in weapons, because they believe this would make war more precise and reduce human casualties. On the other hand, opponents have argued that weapons that can select and attack targets without human involvement are immoral and incompatible with international humanitarian law. What has been overlooked in the current debate are the processes underpinning the design of LAWS. This is problematic, because, in the absence of any current international restrictions on LAWS, how LAWS operate and with what effect is largely defined by artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics engineers in the design process. I investigate how decisions about who can be killed, when, and with what effects are made by weapon engineers in the process of designing LAWS. First, I deliver empirical knowledge about the technological foundations of LAWS, and their creation over time and in leading research and development (R&D) institutions in AI and robotics today. Building on a science and technology (STS) approach, my second objective is to foreground the otherwise implicit political decisions that engineers make in the design process. Third, I extend insights from STS to the discipline of International Relations (IR) by theorizing how technoscientific knowledge about LAWS acquires broader relevance in current international political debates. My project makes a conceptual contribution at the intersection between IR and STS. In addition, my project is methodologically innovative, because it conducts fieldwork-based research in a domain that is often obscured. I build on a set of qualitative methods, including archival research, semi-structured interviews with engineers, and observations at military trade fairs, to map the design of LAWS and to study the substantive practices and judgements of weapon engineers.
- Promoter: Hoijtink Marijn
- Research Project