International Relations in the Digital Age: Drones and automated warfare: threat to global security?

A new series of seminars on the effect of the Digital Revolution on International Relations


Sarah Kreps, Associate Professor of Government, Cornell University, and Adjunct Scholar at the Modern War Institute, West Point

Ulrike Franke, Policy Fellow, ECFR

Chaired by

Mark Leonard, Co-Founder and Director, ECFR

International Relations in the Digital Age is a new series launched by ECFR in 2018 to examine how the digital revolution is redefining international relations. The series has until now explored how technological changes will affect democracy, economics, and warfare in the cyberspace. We will now look at automation in warfare and soon turn to identity as well as more specific concepts like deterrence, international regimes, state and non-state actors in the Digital Age.

Drones have become one of the most popular and heatedly debated military systems. The number of states having military drones in their arsenal has grown rapidly in recent years. The technological development is continuing further, as drones are increasingly automated, and autonomous weapons are on the horizon. But the international community is struggling to keep up with the development and regulate these weapons.

To what extent have drones changed or even revolutionised warfare? What are the overlooked elements of drone warfare? Will increasingly autonomous machines fight our wars in the not-so-distant future? What are the ethics of warfare in the Digital Age? Our panel will discuss the implications in warfare as well as the effects on the liberal world order in an age of re-emerging great power competition.

Sarah Kreps (@sekreps) is an Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell University. She is also an author of, Drones: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Drone Warfare (Polity Press, 2014; with John Kaag).

Ulrike Franke (@RikeFranke) is a Policy Fellow for the European Council on Foreign Relations where she works on German foreign and defence policy and emerging military technologies including drones and artificial intelligence.