John R. Emery is an Assistant Professor of International Security in the department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His research focuses on issues of technology in international relations, ethics of war, security studies, nuclear wargaming, human-machine interaction and political theory. He is a member of the 2021-2024 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) Mid-Career Cadre, which brings together nuclear experts from technical, policy, academic, and military backgrounds. Previously, Dr. Emery was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Irvine, where he was also a Tobis Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality. In the 2017-2018 academic year, he was a part of a National Science Foundation EAGER grant that brought together an interdisciplinary research group to assess the impact of technological innovations in AI, Big Data and algorithms on law and the social sciences.
He has published widely in edited volumes and academic journals, including Ethics & International Affairs, Texas National Security Review, Critical Military Studies, Peace Review and Law & Policy. His research during the 2020-2021 academic year at CISAC on ethics and 1950s nuclear wargaming at the RAND Corporation was the runner-up winner of the Janne Nolan Prize for the best article on national security and international affairs, presented by Johns Hopkins SAIS Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, in collaboration with CSIS. As a Tobis Fellow at UC Irvine, he completed an article entitled “Probabilities Toward Death” that analyzed the rise of collateral damage estimation algorithms and the impact of human-machine interactions on ethics of due care in U.S. warfare.
Previous publications have centered on U.S. drone warfare in Yemen and Pakistan, creating a hybrid ethical framework between the law enforcement and just war paradigms for evaluating targeted killings outside of declared war zones. Additionally, he has focused on the adoption of drone technology by humanitarian organizations like MSF and UN Peacekeeping missions, analyzing and problematizing the emerging category of humanitarian drones. This article was featured in the 30th Anniversary Volume of Ethics & International Affairs for its excellence in bridging the gap between theory and practice. His work on war, drones, ethics and counter-terrorism has been published in E-IR, Peace Review, and Ethics & International Affairs as well as book chapters in Georgetown University Press and New York University Press.
Building upon previous research, current projects are concerned with the way in which technology is seen as the solution for making war an inherently more ethical space. Both contemporary with the ethics of soldier enhancements (cognitive and biological), and historical tackling issues of waterboarding and colonialism in the U.S.-Philippine War. Dr. Emery’s work draws upon a rich tradition in intellectual history to proffer casuistic ethical theorizing to answer the difficult questions of the ethics of war and peace in the era of Big Data, AI and machine learning. Other areas of interest include nuclear security, constructivist International Relations, U.S. foreign policy, time and temporality in International Relations, international law, intelligence studies, terrorism/counterterrorism, Italian political thought, and the preventive use of force short of war.