Cvr: The Centaurs Dilemma


The Centaur’s Dilemma

National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution

James E. Baker
Release Date: December 1, 2020

Assessing the legal and practical questions posed by the use of artificial intelligence in national security matters

The increasing use of artificial intelligence poses challenges and opportunities for nearly all aspects of society, including the military and other elements of the national security establishment. This book addresses how national security law can and should be applied to artificial intelligence, which enables a wide range of decisions and actions not contemplated by current law.

James Baker, an expert in national security law and process, adopts a realistic approach in assessing how the law—even when not directly addressing artificial intelligence—can be used, or even misused, to regulate this new technology. His new book covers, among other topics, national security process, constitutional law, the law of armed conflict, arms control, and academic and corporate ethics. With his own background as a judge, he examines potential points of contention and litigation in an area where the law is still evolving and might not yet provide clear and certain answers. The Centaur’s Dilemma also analyzes potential risks associated with the use of artificial intelligence in the realm of national security—including the challenges of machine-human interface, operating (or not operating) the national-security decision-making process at machine speed, and the perils of a technology arms race.

Written in plain English, The Centaur’s Dilemma will help guide policymakers, lawyers, and technology experts as they deal with the many legal questions that will arise when using artificial intelligence to plan and carry out the actions required for the nation’s defense.

Praise for The Centaur’s Dilemma

“In this insightful book, James Baker covers a broad range of legal dilemmas surrounding artificial intelligence in ways that will be accessible to national security policymakers and legal generalists, while also useful to technologists and specialists in government, academia, and industry. Drawing on vivid historical cases, Baker shows how society can govern technology, rather than the other way around.”
—Jason Matheny, founding director, Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Georgetown University; commissioner, National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence; and former assistant director of National Intelligence and director of IARPA

The Centaur’s Dilemma is a must-read for anyone interested in national security and technology. James Baker provides an extraordinary and timely roadmap for how to think about the intersection of the law and artificial intelligence. What is exceptional about this work is his focus on how to use the law as a tool for making wiser and more strategic decisions regarding the use of AI in national security. He also identifies interrelated mechanisms for effectively incorporating our values in the processes that we design to promote ethical and societal interests as we take advantage of AI-enabled systems. Accessible and extremely thoughtful, this book is indispensable reading for our next generation of national security policymakers.”
—Avril Haines, former assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser; deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and legal adviser to the National Security Council

“An incredibly important and timely contribution. AI fielding is rapidly outpacing the resolution of critical legal, policy, safety, and ethics questions. Baker provides both a superb AI primer and a comprehensive, compelling framework for tackling these tough questions and optimizing the human-machine team.”
—Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan (USAF, Ret.); inaugural director, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Department of Defense, 2018–2020


James E. Baker is a Professor at the Syracuse University College of Law and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, where he is also Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. He previously served as the Chief Judge, and earlier as an Associate Judge, on the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (2000-2015) and as Legal Adviser and Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (1994-2000). He is the author of In the Common Defense: National Security Law for Perilous Times (Cambridge 2007) and co-author of Regulating Covert Action (Yale 1992), along with numerous chapters and articles on security, law, government process, and ethics.