• Date

    29 - 30 November 2023 and 1 December 2023

  • Duration

    3 days

  • Location

    University of New South Wales Canberra at Australian Defence Force Academy, Northcott Dr, Campbell, ACT 2612


Autonomous technologies (including lethal autonomous weapons, AI-based control and decision-making systems, and self-piloting/self-driving vehicles) are changing or can possibly change the composition, doctrine, and strategic posture of the military forces deployed in the Indo-Pacific. The Pacific Rim Strategic Policy Conference is concerned with the diffusion of these technologies among states, non-state, and inter-state actors and its implications for security & defence in the region. Speakers will discuss how the specificity of military cultures, innovation ecosystems, and even ethnic and religious traditions may determine different attitudes, perceptions, and expectations toward autonomous technologies, thus shaping the allied forces’ capability to achieve full interoperability through technological cooperation. Comprehending cultural diversity is crucial, from a strategic policy perspective, as it impacts the degree to which technological innovation is embraced or resisted and thus determines the effectiveness of autonomous systems across strategic, operational and tactical levels.

Technology, Strategy, and Cultures in the Indo-Pacific Theatre

At a time when new security agreements and strategic technological partnerships are being signed by key regional players, the Pacific Rim Strategic Policy Conference brings together experts of international security, technology designers and developers, ethicists, and social scientists to investigate the diversity of stances toward autonomy and its strategic significance. Academics, government officers (including research and military personnel), and representatives of technological firms are invited to attend this conference and contribute presentations about:

(A) expectations and beliefs of different groups and institutions toward AI-based applications, including the militaries participating in joint exercises and technology exchange programmes;

(B) diverging public opinions about the ethico-legal issues associated with autonomous weapon systems in different countries and among different groups;

(C) the diffusion of autonomous technologies and its impact on the strategic posture of national militaries, international coalitions, and non-state actors in the Indo-Pacific region.


The conference programme comprises invited lectures, submitted papers, panel discussions, and workshop activities. They will address any topics relevant to the broad theme of the conference, including, but not limited to:

  • Joint exercises in the Indo-Pacific: how understanding cultural specificities could facilitate interoperability.
  • AUKUS strategic partnership and other security agreements: the political significance of technological cooperation.
  • Regulating or banning lethal autonomous weapons? Diverging perceptions of ethico-legal issues in different countries.
  • The Security & Defence PLuS Alliance and the AUKUS partnership: academic collaborations and vision creation.
  • Models of technology diffusion: the role of socio-economic, geographical, and cultural specificities.
  • Attitudes and perceptions in human-autonomy interaction: the cognitive precursors of adoption propensity.
  • Setting international standards to assess and validate autonomous capabilities: exploring uncharted territories.  
  • Soldier-robot teaming: the role played by acceptance, trust, tolerance, and anthropomorphism.
  • Culturally-aware design of autonomous military technologies: lessons from social robotics, human-machine interaction, and human factors research.
  • Value-sensitive design and societal acceptance: is cultural diversity a challenge or a resource?
  • What causal role does culture play in conflict, if any at all? Culturalism versus Realism in security studies.
  • Public trust in governments and security technology: comparing different models of social cohesion.

This conference is part of the project "Cultural Attitudes in the Age of Autonomy: Australian Policy and the Ethico-Legal Deployment of Human-Machine Teams in the Indo-Pacific” (Chief Investigator Dr Max Cappuccio), supported by the Australian Government through a grant by Defence. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Government or Defence.


Submit your abstract (250-500 words) by 31 October 2023

For information: m.cappuccio@unsw.edu.au



University of New South Wales Canberra at Australian Defence Force Academy, Northcott Dr, Campbell, ACT 2612


Invited speakers:

  • Hussein Abbas (UNSW School of Engineering & Technology)
  • Marigold Black (RAND corporation)
  • Brendon Cannon (Khalifa University Abu Dhabi)
  • Robb Cheek (UVify)
  • Malcolm Davis (Australian Strategic Policy Institute)
  • Peter Dean (Sydney University)
  • Francis Domingo (De La Salle University)
  • Robert Engen (Deakin University)
  • Miguel Alberto Gomez (ETH Zurich)
  • Douglas Guilfoyle (UNSW School of Humanities & Social Sciences)
  • Adam Henschke (Twente University)
  • Mike Kelly (Palantir)
  • Jong Hwan Kim (Korea Military Academy Seoul)
  • Ian Langford (UNSW School of Humanities & Social Sciences)
  • Mike Moroney (Royal Australian Air Force)
  • Lesley Seebeck (UNSW School of Professional Studies)
  • David Yunchul Shim (Korea Advanced Institute of Technology)
  • Jurriaan Van Diggelen (TNO)
  • Toby Walsh (UNSW AI Institute)
  • Austin Wyatt (RAND corporation)

Advisory board

  • Max Cappuccio (UNSW School of Engineering & IT), chair
  • Deane Baker (UNSW School of Humanities & Social Sciences)
  • Matthew Garratt (UNSW AI Institute)
  • Nicole Magney (Security & Defence PLuS Alliance)
  • James Morrison (UNSW Defence Research Institute)
  • Gavin Mount (UNSW School of Humanities & Social Sciences)
  • Austin Wyatt (RAND corporation)


  • UNSW AI Institute (Canberra AI Hub)
  • UNSW Canberra MERLIN (School of Humanities & Social Sciences)
  • UNSW Canberra Trusted Autonomy Group (School of Engineering & Technology)
  • UNSW Defence Research Institute


  • RAND corporation
  • Security & Defence PLuS Alliance


  • Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Hanwha Australia
  • Palantir
  • Synpaq
  • UVify