The imaginative horizon of contemporary war: Neurobiology, AI and the US military


With the objective to predict and pre-empt the emergence of political violence, the US Department of Defence has devoted increasing attention to the intersection between neurobiology and AI. The aim of the research project is to examine how the promise of automated neurobiological technologies conditions imaginaries of war and governance. Empirically, the project analyses the DoD’s Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) program - a research network that aims to influence US security politics to appropriate neurobiological insights and AI technology in their conduct and understanding of war. Through discourse analysis of SMA research and interviews with researchers and policymakers, the project will analyse both the operative understanding of war and peace within the SMA program as well as how this understanding is disseminated to the wider US security apparatus. Ultimately, the study aims to contribute to ongoing discussions about the political ramifications of the entry of neurobiology and AI into governance and war; if and how the promise of an automated neurobiological war displaces other definitions, objectives and means of war and peace, such as democracy, development and social equality.

  • The project period is three years, during which empirical collection and the writing of four research articles will be conducted.
  • The project will be hosted by University of Lapland, Finland – an international hub for critical research on critical theory and biopolitics at large. 

Project leader: Claes Tängh Wrangel

Last modified: 2021-10-07