Coding the Law of Armed Conflict: First Steps

Ashley Deeks, Coding the Law of Armed Conflict: First Steps, in THE LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT IN 2040 (Oxford University Press: New York, Matthew C. Waxman ed., 2020 Forthcoming)

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2020-49

16 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020

See all articles by Ashley Deeks

Ashley Deeks

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: May 27, 2020

Abstract

“Machine learning algorithms hold out the promise of making sense of vast quantities of information, detecting patterns, and identifying anomalies better than humans. It seems safe to predict that in the coming decades militaries will rely heavily on predictive algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in many aspects of warfighting. Military operators, programmers, and lawyers will confront difficult challenges as they try to create decision-support algorithms that are sensitive to the law of armed conflict (LOAC). Lawyers will need to understand the capabilities, requirements, and limits of algorithms, while programmers will need to learn the basics of LOAC and how militaries make LOAC-infused decisions under pressure.

This chapter argues that these actors should pursue a three-step process: (1) identifying the applicable law; (2) crafting and training the algorithm around factors that will produce a recommendation relevant to that legal framework; and (3) interpreting the algorithmic predictions through the lens of that law. The goal should be to produce law-sensitive, data-driven algorithmic recommendations that lawyers and operators can act on. Further, the efforts to create legally-sensitive predictive algorithms may alter the kinds of inter-agency processes that states undertake to interpret LOAC rules and stimulate militaries to re-evaluate how they currently undertake their human-only analyses.”

Keywords: artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive algorithms, international law, law of armed conflict, NATO, targeting

Suggested Citation

Deeks, Ashley, Coding the Law of Armed Conflict: First Steps (May 27, 2020). Ashley Deeks, Coding the Law of Armed Conflict: First Steps, in THE LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT IN 2040 (Oxford University Press: New York, Matthew C. Waxman ed., 2020 Forthcoming), Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2020-49, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3612329

Ashley Deeks (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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