Projects / Initiatives

The Bell School leads in the study of international relations of the Asia Pacific. Our reputation for excellence enables us to exercise unparalleled influence in shaping Australia's foreign and security policy in the Asia Pacific. 

The existing and potential impact of AI is impossible to ignore. AI already influences every aspect of our lives, sometimes in seemingly unremarkable ways. Yet, we are also seeing signs of how it may radically alter international politics and security. 


From the use of AI by Cambridge Analytica to send targeted messages to voters through social media in the context of Brexit and the 2016 US presidential elections, to on-going debates in the European Parliament and the UN about lethal autonomous weapons, the far-reaching political and security implications of AI demand our attention. 

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In March 2019, a two-day workshop was jointly convened by the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and CFI in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Humanising Machine Intelligence Grand Challenge research project at the Australian National University (ANU).The workshops succeeded in:

  • Bringing together outstanding scholars and practitioners working on the political and security implications of AI to establish a network of people making important contributions in this area
  • Introducing those with expertise in politics and security (who may not have previously focused on AI) to those with specific expertise in AI in order to open up new possibilities for collaboration - and, importantly
  • Providing a forum for discussion and debate about some of the most significant and challenging problems that we currently face in international politics.

The workshop was attended by an eclectic blend of participants from academia and private, public and NGO sectors. There was a delegation of academic experts from Cambridge University as well as international speakers from Singapore (Nanyang Technological University) and China (Berggruen Institute China Center); representatives from Australian government departments (DFAT, Department of Human Services, Australian War College); Google Asia Pacific; the Australian Academy of the Humanities; and colleagues from other Australian universities (UNSW, USyd) and other schools and departments within ANU (National Security College, College of Arts and Social Sciences, College of Engineering and Computer Science).

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Speakers and participants discussed a broad range of topics including: Lethal Autonomous Weapons, digital footprints and microtargeting, China’s social credit system and the impact of AI on democratic processes. Workshop participants also took part in a hypothetical, role-playing exercise that addressed possible future AI security challenges.

  • What is AI
  • AI, international norms and challenges to the ethics and laws of war
  • AI and the changing nature of security, strategy and war 
  • The future of AI and associated risks
  • Understanding the science behind targeted messaging
  • AI, big data analytics, he citizen and the state
  • The case of Cambridge Analytica: Revelations and lessons learned
  • Ai impacts: Building effective networks in the Asia Pacific