Macro Implications of Micro Transformations: An Assessment of AI’s Impact on Contemporary Geopolitics

August 20th 2019 - 07:00

The threats and opportunities associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies force liberal societies to grapple with a range of fundamental issues, many of which directly affect the existing economic, social, political, and even the security fabrics that underpin the domestic and global orders.

From automated production lines to networked drone swarms on to automated mass surveillance, the combination of ever-more-sophisticated sensory arrays, never-before-seen computing power, and coding know-how is driving paradigm shifts in the creation of wealth, the governance of polities, and the functioning of societies.

This HCSS study seeks to attain a better understanding of threats and opportunities associated with this rapidly evolving technology by conducting an in-depth analysis of Chinese, European, Russian, and American AI programs, and to advise Dutch and European policymakers on optimal correction courses.

The report outlines mitigation options to address challenges within the economic, sociopolitical, and military-security domains. In addition, it formulates five overarching (non-domain-specific) recommendations for addressing shortcomings in the EU’s current AI ecosystem:

1. Support small and medium e-tech companies.

2. Formulate balanced privacy standards.

3. Facilitate academic sector R&D.

4. Ensure shared understanding of AI among Member States.

5. Leverage the EU’s economic weight in international norm-setting.


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The research for and production of this report has been conducted within the PROGRESS research framework agreement. Responsibility for the contents and for the opinions expressed, rests solely with the authors and does not constitute, nor should it be construed as, an endorsement by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

Hugo van Manen holds a Master’s degree (MSc) in International Public Management and Policy from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Leiden University. Prior to joining HCSS, Hugo worked as a consultant at Ecorys, where he was involved in several EU-commissioned projects within the field of civil protection, including the International Forum to Advance First Responder Innovation, DRIVER+, and DG ECHO’s peer review program.
Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.