Dr James Johnson

Dr James Johnson
Dr James Johnson
Dr James Johnson


Email Address
Office Address

Room G23, Edward Wright Building

School of Social Science


Dr James Johnson is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Strategic Studies in the Department of Politics and International Relations. He is also an Honorary Fellow at the University of Leicester, a Non-Resident Associate on the ERC-funded Towards a Third Nuclear Age Project, and a Mid-Career Cadre with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Project on Nuclear Issues. 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, CA. He holds a PhD in Politics and International Relations from the University of Leicester. Before entering academia, he worked in the financial sector, mainly in China, and is fluent in Mandarin.

His research examines the intersection of nuclear weapons, deterrence, great power competition, strategic stability, and emerging technology – especially artificial intelligence. His work has been featured in Journal of Strategic Studies, The Washington Quarterly, Strategic Studies Quarterly, Defence Studies, European Journal of International Security, Asian Security, Pacific Review, 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 US-China Military & Defense Relationship During the Obama Presidency (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Warfare: USA, China & Strategic Stability (Manchester University Press, 2021), and AI and the Bomb: Nuclear Strategy and Risk in the Digital Age (Oxford University Press, 2023). His latest book is The AI Commander: Centaur Teaming, Command, and Ethical Dilemmas (Oxford University Press, 2024).

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships
  • Co-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
  • British International Studies Association, Member 
  • International Studies Association­, Member 

Latest Publications

View My Publications


Research Overview

  • Strategic studies
  • Artificial intelligence & future warfare
  • Great power strategic competition
  • Deterrence theory & strategic stability
  • Political & cognitive psychology
  • Nuclear weapons policy
  • Nuclear non-proliferation & arms control issues


Current Research

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

Abstract: 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 are 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

  • Co-Director of Strategic Studies

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Books and Reports

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals

Contributions to Specialist Publications

Other Contributions