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Perceptions of AI and Crisis Decision Making

Countries around the world are interested in using artificial intelligence (AI) to bolster their militaries and intelligence services. AI serves as an enabler that can help automate and streamline military tasks that traditionally required human intelligence. Despite the likely proliferation of AI‐​enabled systems, relatively little scholarly research has explored whether and how AI affects military decision‐​making. The perceptions that policymakers have of actions carried out by or information provided by AI‐​enabled systems may affect their decisions on the use of force. This has important consequences for the study of interstate behavior, because theories are often based on leaders’ perceptions or misperceptions of a rival’s behavior. Drawing on original survey experiments fielded on a sample of U.S. national security practitioners, we find that AI use by both friendly and rival forces has a significant effect on elite decision‐​making during interstate crises. This suggests emerging technologies such as AI can alter decisionmakers’ perceptions of rivals in ways that shape political outcomes.

Erik Lin‐​Greenberg

Assistant Professor, MIT