Doctoral student’s work featured in Oxford Handbook chapter

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on international politics is the topic of a recently-released Oxford Handbook chapter written by a Cornell doctoral student and government professor.

The chapter, "AI and International Politics," is a broad look at the opportunities and risks that the proliferation of AI technology holds for international politics, said Amelia C. Arsenault, graduate student in the field of government, who wrote the chapter with Sarah Kreps, the John L. Wetherill Professor in the Department of Government and director of the Cornell Tech Policy Lab.

Artificial intelligence use by governments can run the gamut, from disinformation campaigns, surveillance and policing to autonomous weapons or advanced robotics or diplomacy and trade.

“This is an introduction to the ideas and links between AI and politics,” Arsenault said. “But we also wanted to focus on motivation — why international actors are pursuing this technology — and evaluate potential consequences for the future.”

They found that AI plays an important role in international politics today. “AI itself is not radically changing international politics, but it’s intensifying, solidifying or exacerbating trends that are already under way,” Arsenault said. Those trends, she said, include the erosion of democratic norms, increased polarization, disinformation and surveillance.

The chapter is part of the upcoming “Oxford Handbook on AI Governance,” slated for publication later this year.

“These technologies are not inherently repressive, but the ways that countries adopt and deploy them have a significant effect on the ways they influence people’s lives,” Arsenault said. “These technologies can be deployed in a way that emphasizes equality and democratic values. It’s important that that’s a consideration being made.”

Arsenault is in her second year of her doctoral studies and is interested in studying the factors that influence which countries are purchasing technologies and from whom. She is intrigued by smart city technology, which integrates technology into city life in everything from traffic signals to facial recognition in security cameras.

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