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The Centaur’s Dilemma Reviewed by APSA Law and Politics

By Tobias T. Gibson, Department of Political Science, Westminster College

Judge James E. Baker, Director of the Institute for Security Policy and Law and Professor of Law at Syracuse Law School, begins THE CENTAUR’S DILEMMA with two truisms. The first is that artificial intelligence (AI) is widespread and will only become more ubiquitous. The second is that law is rarely, and perhaps never, in line with the technology that it is supposed to govern.

As described by Baker, the approaching dilemma is that of decision making, especially in the realm of national security, that will combine human and machine—like the half human, half horse centaur of mythology. Yet, while this is imminent, and in some ways a current issue—think of your reliance on the Waze app—Baker’s stated goal of this book is to allow generalists, including policymakers, to debate and design a legal framework. The time is now because allowing time for debate, including a wide variety of stakeholders, will allow lawmakers “to make informed, purposeful, and accountable decisions about the security use of governance of AI” (pp. 5-6).

The first four chapters of the book establish the problems and provocations of artificial intelligence in a national security setting. To be sure, uses and issues related to AI will certainly arise in areas of policy spaces related to traditional national security spheres, such as military and intelligence. Fighter pilots, autonomous vehicles—whether air based “drones,” or increasingly land and water-based ones—and international surveillance tools and data collection all will be enhanced by cooperative work between human and AI. Baker’s work is focused on establishing a protocol of law and policy that will not allow the cooption of decision making by the coming, and many would argue present, AI revolution.

However, he also adds that the use of AI in everyday items, the so-called Internet of things, also needs to be governed to prevent excessive action on the part of the government and corporations that build smart cars, smart toasters, smart coffee makers, smart refrigerators, and smart phones. As Baker notes, a series of recent Supreme Court cases, discussed below, have led to bright lines in the ways that collected data is used by law enforcement. However, there is much to discern and develop, as AI technology advances beyond Facebook and Amazon algorithms and becomes far more ubiquitous.

That said, however, some of the most directly applicable and, quite frankly, most developed portions of the proposed framework are found in case law, much of which is seminal …

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Professor Corri Zoli: Intelligence Strategy Highlights Workforce

A new plan aims to retain and recruit diverse experts.

By Corri Zoli & Brian Holmes

(AFCEA Signal | March 1, 2021) For many in the U.S. intelligence community, choosing the profession was neither a career goal nor even a consideration until later in life. Few set out to join the agencies that comprise the community while in high school or college. This pattern—usually based on a knowledge gap—needs to change immediately to meet the United States’ national imperative for a talented and diverse workforce.

Because the U.S. intelligence community’s federal workforce is responsible for a disproportionate impact on the country’s security and has global implications, leaders must take a more proactive stance, driven by their external academic engagement programs, to meet their own staffing strategies. The 2019 National Intelligence Strategy clearly expresses this imperative. In addition, the need for a workforce of experts also requires using innovative engagement solutions for intelligence community advisers to understand better and even drive technology advances in real time to broaden their own knowledge base.

The reasons for the current makeup of intelligence community employees are many. Historical unfamiliarity with the community can produce a schizophrenic public perception, resulting in an overly homogeneous workforce. In addition, a deficiency of education about a potential career in the field creates an inherent barrier to entry for many potential employees; therefore, a smaller pool of candidates for the agencies to draw on.

Unfortunately, this paradigm is counter to research that shows intelligence community agencies would benefit from socially diverse groups, which are more innovative and better at solving complex nonroutine problems, a typical environment for an intelligence officer …

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Professor Mark Nevitt: Is Climate Change a National Emergency?

(Just Security | Feb. 25, 2021)  Members of Congress recently introduced legislation mandating the declaration of a national climate emergency, while Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) invited President Joe Biden to declare climate change a national emergency. Reaction to these calls for a climate emergency has been mixed. Some environmentalists cheered. Others argued that using emergency powers to address climate change won’t help Biden fight it and would pose an unacceptable risk to democratic governance. 

These criticisms are not unfair, and they deserve careful consideration. But in light of the current, sobering state of climate science as well as the scientists’ call to take transformational action this decade, a climate national emergency should not be dismissed out of hand.

To be sure, declaring a climate emergency will not “solve” the climate crisis, and it shouldn’t be a substitute for legislative efforts and the work of the international Paris Climate Agreement (which the United States recently re-joined). It would, however, send a powerful signal from the White House about the urgency of the climate crisis—while also activating several legal authorities that could be put to work immediately. It would also reflect reality. A legal climate emergency acknowledges what climate scientists and experts already know: We are in a state of planetary emergency.

Climate Change: The One-Shot Problem

Climate change is unlike any problem facing the nation and the world: It has been aptly described as the “mother of all collective action” problems and a “super-wicked” problem.

Climate change is complicated by a unique temporal characteristic that penalizes inaction. Because greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stay in the atmosphere for decades, dithering on climate action imposes escalating costs that rise over time. Unlike other thorny problems (e.g. health care, immigration), we may lack the luxury of ever coming back to the political system for a climate retry in the future—this is the so-called “one shot” problem. At some point, the effects of climate change will be too acute, have had too much impact, or be too late to stop or reverse. Climate scientists exclaim that now is the time for political leaders to take our “climate shot” or risk irreversible, catastrophic harm, not just to Americans, but to humans as a species …

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Hon. James E. Baker Featured on Ipse Dixit Podcast

Host Brian L. Frye and Institute for Security Policy and Law Director the Hon. James E. Baker discuss Baker’s new book “The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution”(Brookings, 2021).

Baker begins by explaining why he thinks artificial intelligence requires us to think about the relationship between people and machines in new ways. He describes some of the national security implications of artificial intelligence technology and its implementation. And he reflects on how policymakers should think about those questions.

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SPL Researcher Matt Mittelsteadt Publishes AI Verification Report with CSET

The rapid integration of artificial intelligence into military systems raises critical questions of ethics, design and safety. While many states and organizations have called for some form of “AI arms control,” few have discussed the technical details of verifying countries’ compliance with these regulations.

In this peer-reviewed report—”Mechanisms to Ensure AI Arms Control Compliance“—Institute for Security Policy and Law AI Policy Research Fellow Matthew Mittelsteadt offers a starting point, defines the goals of “AI verification,” and proposes several mechanisms to support arms inspections and continuous verification.

The report is part of a research partnership between SPL and the Center for Security and Emerging Technology investigating the legal, policy, and security impacts of emerging technology.

Mittelsteadt explains that his report defines “AI Verification” as the process of determining whether countries’ AI and AI systems comply with treaty obligations. “AI Verification Mechanisms” are tools that ensure regulatory compliance by discouraging or detecting the illicit use of AI by a system or illicit AI control over a system.

Despite the importance of AI verification, few practical verification mechanisms have been proposed to support most regulation in consideration. Without proper verification mechanisms, AI arms control will languish.

To this end, Mittelsteadt’s report seeks to jumpstart the regulatory conversation by proposing mechanisms of AI verification to support AI arms control.

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Professor William C. Banks Discusses Trump’s Second Impeachment with China Daily

Senators OK trial to impeach Trump

(China Daily | Feb. 11, 2021) Opening arguments in the historic second impeachment trial of former US president Donald Trump will start Wednesday after the Senate voted to approve its constitutionality, but a conviction will be “highly unlikely”, experts say.

Six Republicans joined all the Democrats in the Senate to vote in favor of allowing the first trial of a former president to take place …

… A Senate conviction requires a two-thirds majority, but it is highly unlikely that 67 senators will line up against the former president, according to William Banks, distinguished professor emeritus at the Syracuse University College of Law in New York.

“The main explanation for Republican senators’ support is their belief or fear that Trump continues to control the national party and that many Republican voters do (believe that), too,” Banks told China Daily …

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WSJ Speaks to Professor William C. Banks About Second Impeachment Trial

Jamie Raskin Leads Democrats in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial

(The Wall Street Journal | Feb. 7, 2021) Rep. Jamie Raskin faces an immediate challenge as the top prosecutor in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump : Many of the senators acting as jurors don’t think there should be one.

The Maryland Democrat was picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to serve as the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial that starts Tuesday. The 58-year-old former constitutional-law professor will lead eight other Democrats in seeking to persuade the Senate to convict Mr. Trump of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a legal brief last week, Mr. Raskin alleged that Mr. Trump “created a powder keg” in which hundreds of people “were prepared for violence at his direction.” Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that Mr. Trump didn’t engage in insurrection, saying that he had “exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect” and that he hadn’t incited violence …

… Actions can be impeachable without being criminal offenses, and lawmakers have wide latitude in determining what rises to a “high crime or misdemeanor.” Under the criminal code, a 1969 Supreme Court ruling holds that the government can punish inflammatory speech only if it is both intended to incite and likely to incite “imminent lawless action.”

In a criminal case, a prosecutor would have to prove that Mr. Trump “could have reasonably foreseen that his incitement was likely to lead to all hell happening at the Capitol,” said William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University …

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Hon. James E. Baker Interviewed on New Books Network

The Centaur’s Dilemma: US National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution

By Kyle Beadle | New Books Network

From facial recognition to online shopping, artificial intelligence has become the backbone of the internet and has led to an unprecedented extraction and utilization of personal data. As a result, AI has rapidly outpaced existing free speech, privacy, and national security law.

In The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution (Brookings Institute Press, 2020), Judge James E. Baker deploys his extensive experience in national security law to argue for AI regulation through legislation …

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Fashion Looks to Paris (Agreement): Professor Mark Nevitt Speaks to WWD

What Rejoining the Paris Agreement Signals to Fashion

(WWD | Jan. 21, 2021) While the U.S. rejoining the Paris Agreement is just the beginning of a bold rush into environmental stewardship, the action should not be overlooked because of the message it signals to fashion.

“I think there will be more focus on all industries that contribute to climate change, to include fashion.”

Why does this brush of the penstroke matter?

A Cross-Industry Sustainability Push

“Rejoining the Paris Agreement is a signal to the world that the U.S. ‘is back’ on the international climate stage,” said Mark Nevitt, an associate professor of law and expert in environmental and climate change law at Syracuse University’s College of Law. “The U.S. is the world’s largest historical greenhouse gas emitter, and U.S. leadership is crucial for making international climate progress and reducing our emissions. As the Senate is 50-50 and there is a slim Democratic majority in the House, passing bold climate legislation will be challenging.”

It is a 30-day process that began Wednesday for the U.S. to officially rejoin the agreement, but the process of undoing previous environmental rollbacks and rewriting law to realize the bold pledge of making the country carbon-neutral by 2050 is more daunting.

Nevitt believes the Environmental Protection Agency will be the main lever under the Biden-Harris administration “to push [Biden’s] environmental agenda,” both in communication and action. And as for the largely unregulated and highly polluting fashion industry, Nevitt foresees it in the mix of broader industry overhaul.

“I think there will be more focus on all industries that contribute to climate change, to include fashion. Look for the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Michael Regan, to push broad sustainability policies across the U.S. economy. For fashion, this will likely highlight the need to reuse clothing, streamlining supply chains to reduce the carbon footprint,” he said. “While only so much can be done by law or regulation, look for a broad push via public communications on sustainability across all industries, to include fashion and its environmental impact” …

What Rejoining the Paris Agreement Signals to Fashion

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The Legal Examiner Talks to Professor William C. Banks About Domestic Terrorism Cases

Domestic terrorism prosecutions reach all-time high

(The Legal Examiner | Jan. 19, 2021) The insurrection attempt by a mob on the nation’s capitol may be part of a larger trend of increasing incidents of right-wing domestic terrorism.

“I think it’s not a one-off,” said William C. Banks, law professor at Syracuse University College of Law. “We’re in a very critical period right now that might even abate or reverse itself. I’m hopeful that it will. I think we’re going to have to see.”

Banks said he hopes the leadership of Joe Biden’s administration will have a “more calming effect” than President Trump.

Last year saw the highest number of domestic terrorism prosecutions brought by the federal government around the country in the 25 years since government tracking of these cases began, according to a report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Banks is not affiliated with TRAC.

In all, U.S. Attorneys’ offices brought 183 domestic terrorism cases in 2020, compared with 90 in 2019, 63 in 2018 and 69 in 2017, according to the TRAC report, which used data the clearinghouse obtained through litigation …

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Domestic terrorism prosecutions reach all-time high

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