Dr James Johnson

Dr James Johnson
Dr James Johnson
Dr James Johnson

Senior Lecturer

Email Address
Office Address

Room G23, Edward Wright Building

School of Social Science


Dr James Johnson is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Strategic Studies in the Department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Aberdeen. He is the founder of the Strategic Studies Wargaming Society. He is also an Honorary Fellow at the University of Leicester, a Non-Resident Research Associate on the European Research Council funded Towards a Third Nuclear Age Project, and a Mid-Career Cadre Member with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Nuclear Issues. He advises various parts of the US, UK, and EU governments on AI and nuclear policy, including the US Department of Defense, the NATO Nuclear Planning Group, the UK Office for AI, and the Global Commission on Responsible AI in the Military Domain (REAIM). Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at Dublin City University, a Non-Resident Fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, USA.

His research examines the intersection of nuclear weapons, artificial intelligence, political psychology, and strategic affairs. His work has been featured in the Journal of Strategic Studies, The Washington Quarterly, Strategic Studies Quarterly, Defence Studies, the European Journal of International Security, Asian Security, Pacific Review, the Journal for Peace & Nuclear Disarmament, Defense and Security Analysis, RUSI Journal, Journal of Cyber Policy, Journal of Military Ethics, War on the Rocks, and other outlets. He is the author of The AI Commander: Centaur Teaming, Command, and Ethical Dilemmas (OUP, 2024), AI and the Bomb: Nuclear Strategy and Risk in the Digital Age (OUP, 2023), Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare: USA, China & Strategic Stability (MUP, 2021), and The US-China Military & Defense Relationship During the Obama Presidency (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). He received his PhD from the University of Leicester and is fluent in Mandarin.

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships
  • Director of Strategic Studies
  • Social Sciences PG Committee, Member
  • Social Sciences Research Committee, Member
  • PIR PG Staff Student Liaison Committee, Member
  • PIR PG Exam Board Committee, Member
  • Personal Tutor
External Memberships
  • Honorary Visiting Fellow, University of Leicester
  • Non-Resident Associate, "The Towards a Third Nuclear Age: Strategic Conventional Weapons and the Next Revolution in the Global Nuclear Order," European Research Council (ERC) funded project
  • Mid-Career Cadre, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), Project on Nuclear Issues
  • Non-Resident Expert, US Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Joint Staff’s Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) program
  • Expert Advisory Group Member, the Global Commission on Responsible AI in the Military Domain (REAIM), Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Security Policy Department
  • British International Studies Association, Member 
  • International Studies Association­, Member 

Latest Publications

View My Publications


Research Overview

  • Strategic affairs 
  • Artificial intelligence & future warfare
  • Political psychology
  • Nuclear weapons policy & non-proliferation 


Current Research

Latest book: The AI Commander: Centaur Teaming, Command, & Ethical Dilemmas (Oxford University Press, 2024).

About the book: What does AI mean for the role of humans in war? The AI Commander addresses the largely neglected question of how the fusion of machines into the war machine will affect the human condition of warfare. James Johnson emphasizes the "mind"—both human and machine—and the mechanisms of thought (intelligence, consciousness, emotion, memory, experience, etc.) to consider the effects of AI and autonomy on the human condition of war. Johnson investigates the vexing and misunderstood - and sometimes contradictory - ethical, moral, and normative implications, whether incremental, transformative, or revolutionary, of synthesizing man and machine in future algorithmic warfare or AI-enabled centaur warfighting. At the heart of these vexing questions is whether we are inevitably moving toward a situation in which AI-enabled autonomous weapons will make strategic decisions in place of humans and thus become the owners of those decisions. Can AI-powered systems replace human commanders? And, more importantly, should they? The AI Commander argues that AI cannot be merely passive and neutral force multipliers of human cognition. Instead, they will likely become—either by conscious choice or inadvertently—strategic actors in war. AI will transform the role and nature of human warfare, but not necessarily in the ways most observers expect.


Teaching Responsibilities

  • Director of Strategic Studies
  • Director & Founder of the Strategic Studies Wargaming Society

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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications

Other Contributions