Technology and digitalization as forces of change

When: Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 10:00 - Friday, October 4, 2019at 14:00
Where: Meeting room M

CWS Conference 2019 poster

During the last three decades, technological advancement and digitalization processes have largely impacted our ways of life, introducing substantial changes to everyday life. The emergence of smart phones, social media, unmanned vehicles, and automation – to name just a few areas of major development – fundamentally alter our possibilities of communication, documentation, mobility, and representation. These technological developments have consequences that reach far beyond the life of individuals, leaving their mark on forms of governance, culture, as well as international cooperation and conflict. In fact, modern technology and digitalization processes are changing the existing international order and its primary institutions.


This conference aims to bring together experts and perspectives on how technological change in the fields of communications and robotics is impacting the existing international order. Throughout history, the development of new technologies has led to fundamental changes in the strategies and tactics of war, as well as the norms of the use of force, and much can be learned from these previous technological revolutions. Today, some of the fundamental changes that are happening to war and warfare can be seen in the increasing role of drones on and off the battlefield, the fundamental impact social media has on war reporting, the increasing importance of networks, and automation.


Drones are taking over an increasing array of tasks, being used for surveillance and warfighting, but also serving as terrorist weapon; while smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp and the like influence reporting from war and crisis zones, the accessibility of evidence, eyewitnesses and information, and the perception of unfolding events by people all around the globe. The modern world’s reliance on digital networks in everyday life, business, and governance means networks are increasingly being used as means of war, integrating and connecting otherwise separate platforms, functions and services; but they also are vulnerable targets. The progresses in the field of automation go hand in hand with these developments, and raise fundamental questions about the character and nature of war and persistence of international norms when the human is taken out of the loop.


These changes do not only have consequences for today’s battlefields. They also fundamentally affect the nature and role of the state and norms of sovereignty and thereby the very foundations of the current international order, and deserve in-depth examination from multiple angles from various academic disciplines. 



Day 1: 3 October 2019, Meeting Room M, V, H, SDU Odense
10:00: Registration opens


10:30 – 11:00: Welcome by the Head of CWS OIivier Schmitt and the organizers Amelie Theussen & Bugge Thorbjørn Daniel
11:00 – 12:45: Panel 1 – The Changing Role of the Media
The first panel investigates the impact of a variety of social media on war, the state, and international norms. It highlights the role of social media in war reporting in terms of imagery and perceptions, addresses disinformation campaigns and new recruitment strategies as part of new ways of hybrid warfare and explores the role of social media in the context of factfinding and accountability.
Chair: Chiara De Franco (SDU)
Participants: Ekatherina Zhukova (University of Copenhagen), Matthew Mahmoudi (University of Cambridge), Rune Ottosen (Oslo Met), Kevin Williams (Swansea University)
12:45 – 13:45: Lunch (only for invited conference participants)
13:45 – 15:30: Panel 2 – Networks & the Cyber Domain: The Achilles’ Heel of Society?
This panel addresses the role of networks as tool and target of warfighting. It looks at the threat of cyberattacks, the regulation of cyberspace, and its fit with existing (legal) norms; but also addresses the modernization and adaptation of armed force to networked technology, as well as representations of these issues in popular culture.
Chair: Kerstin Carlson (SDU)
Participants: Stefan Soesanto (ETH Zurich), Tomáš Minárik (National Cyber and Information Security Agency of the Czech Republic), Dominique Routhier (SDU), Jan Lemnitzer (SDU)
15:30 – 15:45: Coffee break
15:45 – 17:15: Panel 3 – The Role of Drones
This panel zooms in on the role of drones in today’s conflicts: their use as weapon of industrialized, Western states, but also a terrorist tool. It also takes into consideration the perceptions and imagery connected to drones in different societies and how these are connected with the drones’ use; possibly also looking back at the emergence of aerial warfare.
Chair: Vincent Keating (SDU)
Participants: Dominika Kunertova (SDU), Caroline Kennedy-Pipe (University of Loughborough), Maaike Verbruggen (VUB), James Rogers (SDU) 
Ca. 19:00: Dinner in town (only for invited conference participants)


Day 2: 4 October 2019, Meeting Room M,V,H, SDU Odense
9:00 – 10:45: Panel 4: Artificial intelligence & Automation
In this panel the focus lies on automation processes, the development of artificial intelligence and the question of what the consequences are of taking the human out of the loop. ‘Killer robots’ are a hotly debated issue, both in academic circles and popular culture, but even less lethal versions of artificial intelligence have a potentially huge impact on existing norms, for example regarding accountability, and the strategies and boundaries for the use of force. 
Chair: Amelie Theussen (SDU)
Participants: Kenneth Payne (King’s College London), Frederik Rosén (SDU), William Merrin (Swansea University), Andreas Immanuel Graae (SDU), Matthijs Michiel Maas (University of Copenhagen)
10:45 – 11:00: Coffee break 
11:00 – 12:45: Panel 5: The Role and Nature of the State, Sovereignty, and International Institutions  
The final panel takes a look at all the changes addressed in the previous panels and their consequences for the modern state system. It focuses on the question of how these technological developments affect and change the nature of the state, and fundamental international principles such as sovereignty. It links back to the impact of social media, the threat of drones, and the vulnerability of networks and assesses their impact on governance, domestic institutions, democratic processes and international institutions and cooperation. It will also aim to include a historical view on how previous significant technological changes have affected the nature and role of the state. 
Chair: Trine Flockhart (SDU) 
Participants: Annegret Bendiek (SWP), David Galbreath (University of Bath), Sten Schaumburg Müller (SDU), Karen Lund Petersen (University of Copenhagen), Stéphane Taillat (Saint-Cyr)
12:45 – 13:00: Coffee break
13:00 – 14:00: Lunch with closing interdisciplinary discussion led by organizers Amelie Theussen & Bugge Thorbjørn Daniel (SDU)
Afterwards: Graduation ceremony for the Master of International Security and Law

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