Research

Global Politics of AI and Technology

Progress in artificial Intelligence (AI) is likely to be one of the most important developments in the coming century. There is a non-trivial chance that we will see, in two decades, developments that transform society, the economy, and international relations. These will pose radical opportunities and challenges. I seek to anticipate these and identify levers for avoiding the risks. In particular I think about how global politics will shape, and be shaped by, the evolution of AI. I do this work in collaboration with the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, and I consult for governments, AI labs, and non-profits. At the Asilomar Beneficial AI 2017 Conference we articulated some principles for the development of AI.

For my talks, see allandafoe/ai-talks

  • "AI Governance: A Research Agenda." 2018. Governance of AI Report. https://fhi.ox.ac.uk/govaiagenda
  • "How does the Offense-Defense Balance Scale?" 2018. Ben Garfinkel and Allan Dafoe (pdf)
  • "Public Policy and Superintelligent AI: A Vector Field Approach." Nick Bostrom, Allan Dafoe, and Carrick Flynn. in S. Matthew Liao ed. Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. New York: Oxford University Press. (pdf)
  • "The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation." Miles Brundage, Shahar Avin, ..., Allan Dafoe, ..., Dario Amodei. 2018. https://maliciousaireport.com/
  • "When will AI exceed human performance? Evidence from AI experts." Katja Grace, John Salvatier, Allan Dafoe, Baobao Zhang, Owain Evans. (arXiv) (Media: #16 in Altmetric most discussed articles of 2017, BBC, Newsweek, NewScientist, Tech Review, ZDNet, Musk, Slate Star Codex, The Economist,...)
  • Syllabus for Yale seminar "Global Politics of AI", 2017.
  • Evidence submitted to Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (pdf). 2017. w/ Miles Brundage, on behalf of Future of Humanity Institute.
  • "Yes, We Are Worried About the Existential Risk of Artificial Intelligence." MIT Technology Review. November 2, 2016. Allan Dafoe and Stuart Russell. (link, replication files)

Reputation, Honor, Provocation, Resolve

Leaders and publics care about reputation and honor. This concern seems to be an important cause of war. Is it? I investigate this through survey experiments, natural experiments, and theory.

  • "Coercion and Provocation." Allan Dafoe, Sophia Hatz, and Baobao Zhang. (pdf)
  • "Authoritarian Audiences and Government Rhetoric in International Crises: Evidence from China." Jessica Weiss & Allan Dafoe (pdf, prereg). Monkey Cage (Washington Post) entry by Weiss
  • "Don't Blink: Reputations for Resolve and Higher-Order Beliefs in Crisis Bargaining." Allan Dafoe and Remco Zwetsloot. (pdf)
  • "Provocation, Public Opinion, and Crisis Escalation: Evidence from China." Allan Dafoe & Jessica Weiss (pdf, prereg)
Monkey Cage (Washington Post) entry by Weiss
  • "Honor and War: Southern U.S. Presidents and the Effects of Concern for Reputation." World Politics. 68(2): 341-381. 2016. Allan Dafoe & Devin Caughey. (pdf; link to other files)
Winner of the 2011 International Studies Association Kenneth E. Boulding Award.In (six) most-cited 2016 WP articlesBoston Globe Brainiac article
  • "Leader Influence and Reputation Formation in World Politics." American Journal of Political Science. 62(2). 2018. Jonathan Renshon, Allan Dafoe, & Paul Huth. (pdf, journal)
  • "Reputation and Status as Motives for War." Annual Review of Political Science. 17: 371-393. 2014. Allan Dafoe, Jonathan Renshon, & Paul Huth. (pdf)
  • "Resolve, Reputation, and War: Cultures of Honor and Leaders’ Time-in-Office." UC Berkeley Dissertation. 2012. (pdf or here)
  • "Review of Thomas Lindemann's 'Causes of War: the Struggle for Recognition.'" Journal of Peace Research. 48(5): 685-686. 2011. Allan Dafoe. (pdf)

The Liberal Peace

The peace amongst liberal countries is one of the most important phenomena for the wellbeing of humanity. I seek to understand what causes it.

  • "The Suffragist Peace." Joslyn N. Barnhart, Allan Dafoe, Elizabeth N. Saunders, Robert F. Trager. (pdf)
  • Consulted with Steven Pinker who advised President Obama's Athens speech about how to characterize the democratic peace. November 14, 2016. (link)
  • "Observing the Capitalist Peace: Examining Market-Mediated Signaling and Other Mechanisms." Journal of Peace Research. 51(5): 619-633. 2014. Allan Dafoe & Nina Kelsey. (pdf) (online appendix) (rep files)
Runner-up for Nils Petter Gleditsch JPR Article of the Year Award, 2014.

Methodology

Causal inference is central to social science. Many of our tools depend on implausible parametric assumptions, are fragile, and opaque. I seek to develop tools for causal inference, particularly for observational data, that do not depend on implausible assumptions, are more robust, and more transparent.

  • "Beyond the Sharp Null: Permutation Tests, Heterogeneous Effects, and Bounded Null Hypotheses." R&R at American Journal of Political Science. Devin Caughey, Allan Dafoe, & Luke Miratrix. (arXiv)
  • "Collider Bias in Binary Variable Structures." Trang Nguyen, Allan Dafoe, & Elizabeth Ogburn. R&R at Epidemiological Methods. (arXiv)
  • "Information Equivalence in Survey Experiments." Political Analysis. (Accepted) Allan Dafoe, Baobao Zhang, & Devin Caughey. (link to pdf and pre-analysis plan)
  • "Nonparametric Identification of Causal Effects under Temporal Dependence." Sociological Methods & Research. 47(2): 136-168. 2018. Allan Dafoe. (pdf, journal, pdf with appendix)
  • "Nonparametric Combination (NPC): A Framework for Testing Elaborate Theories." Journal of Politics. 79(2): 688-701. 2017. Devin Caughey, Allan Dafoe & Jason Seawright. (pdf)
  • "Commentary on John Gerring's Social Science Methodology." Qualitative and Multi-Method Research Newsletter. 10(1):1-4. 2012. Allan Dafoe. (pdf)

Transparency

Science depends on transparency. I work to promote better transparency norms and practices: scientists should share complete replication files, should preregister their analyses, should make their analyses transparent, and should evaluate the robustness of their results to reasonable alternative specifications.

  • Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science: Emerging Researcher.
  • "Promoting an Open Research Culture." Science. 348 (6242): 1422-1425. 26 June 2015. B. A. Nosek, G. Alter, G. C. Banks, ..., A. Dafoe, ..., T. Yarkoni. (journal) (pdf)
  • "Science Deserves Better: The Imperative to Share Complete Replication Files." PS: Political Science & Politics. 47(1): 60-66. 2014. Allan Dafoe. (journal) (pdf) (blogs 1, 2, 3) (replication files)

Other Topics

  • "Is There a War Party? Party Change, the Left-Right Divide, and International Conflict." Journal of Conflict Resolution. Forthcoming. Andrew Bertoli, Allan Dafoe, & Robert Trager. (pdf, journal)
  • "Fitness reduction for uncooperative fig wasps through reduced offspring size: A third component of host sanctions." Ecology. 2016. K. Charlotte JandĂ©r, Allan Dafoe, E. Allen Herre. (pdf, appendix, journal)
  • "From Cell Phones to Conflict? Reflections on the Emerging ICT-Political Conflict Research Agenda." Journal of Peace Research. 52(3): 401-413. 2015. Allan Dafoe & Jason Lyall. (pdf) (journal-ungated) (Monkey Cage)
  • "On Technological Determinism: A Typology, Scope Conditions, and a Mechanism." Science, Technology, & Human Values. 40: 1047-1076. 2015. Allan Dafoe. (journal) (pdf)
  • "To Have and to Hold: Exploring the Personal Archive." Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: 275-284. 2006. Kaye, Joseph 'Jofish', Janet Vertesi, Shari Avery, Allan Dafoe, Shay David, Lisa Onaga, Ivan Rosero, Trevor Pinch (pdf)