Artificial intelligence and the future of warfare

The USA, China, and strategic stability

By James Johnson

Artificial intelligence and the future of warfare


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4505-5
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: September 2021
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Warfare & defence, Ordnance, Weapons Technology, Artificial Intelligence, International Relations, Artificial intelligence, HISTORY / Military / Other, TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / General, COMPUTERS / Intelligence (AI) & Semantics


This volume offers an innovative and counter-intuitive study of how and why artificial intelligence-infused weapon systems will affect the strategic stability between nuclear-armed states. Johnson demystifies the hype surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) in the context of nuclear weapons and, more broadly, future warfare. The book highlights the potential, multifaceted intersections of this and other disruptive technology - robotics and autonomy, cyber, drone swarming, big data analytics, and quantum communications - with nuclear stability.

Anticipating and preparing for the consequences of the AI-empowered weapon systems are fast becoming a critical task for national security and statecraft. Johnson considers the impact of these trends on deterrence, military escalation, and strategic stability between nuclear-armed states - especially China and the United States. The book draws on a wealth of political and cognitive science, strategic studies, and technical analysis to shed light on the coalescence of developments in AI and other disruptive emerging technologies.

Artificial intelligence and the future of warfare sketches a clear picture of the potential impact of AI on the digitized battlefield and broadens our understanding of critical questions for international affairs. AI will profoundly change how wars are fought, and how decision-makers think about nuclear deterrence, escalation management, and strategic stability - but not for the reasons you might think.


'This superb book is a technical tour de force with a timely approach to emerging challenges to nuclear deterrence. In this way, it has significant potential to inform current policy among states as they contemplate - for example - the growth of Chinese nuclear forces.'
Rose Gottemoeller, Payne Distinguished Lecturer at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University

'Johnson has crafted a superb narrative that examines the strategic risks of artificial intelligence and its potential impact on deterrence, stability and the maintenance of nuclear weapon capabilities. His evidence-based recommendations on the responsible application of artificial intelligence will provide policy makers and strategists with a range of ethical responses to the dilemmas of using non-human cognitive functions in national security.'
Major General Mick Ryan


Introduction: Opening the AI Pandora's box

Part I: Destabilizing AI renaissance
1 Military AI primer
2 Artificial intelligence in the 2nd nuclear age

Part II: Military AI superpowers
3 New challenges to military-techno Pax Americana
4 U.S.-China crisis stability under the AI nuclear shadow

Part III: Nuclear instability redux?
5 Hunting for nuclear weapons in the digital age
6 Fast and the furious: Drone swarming and hypersonic weapons
7 The AI-cyber security nexus
8 Delegating strategic decisions to intelligent machines
Conclusion: Managing an AI future



James Johnson is a Lecturer in Strategic Studies in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen

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