28 Oliver P. Richmond and Gëzim Visoka (2021). ‘Peace-making: new technologies are no panacea’, Nature, 590, 389.
For peace-making, artificial-intelligence and data-driven approaches (see, for example, W. Guo et al. Nature 562, 331–333; 2018) should be viewed only as complements to the existing international architecture (see go.nature.com/3q13tpe). To predict and prevent war, political will and policy innovations are still necessary.
Digital tools have not addressed the needs of the millions of civilians living through conflicts in Syria or Yemen. They have made little difference in ‘frozen’ conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Cyprus or the Balkans, or to regressing peace processes in Cambodia or Colombia. They risk shifting early-warning, peace-keeping and peace-building systems to a technical level, overriding hard-won compromises and inadvertently supporting the status quo.
Furthermore, these tools offer the temptation to govern war and manage risk from afar. This increases the potential for new forms of digital colonialism. They can wrongly imply that communities affected by conflict are resilient. These tools are not apolitical, nor are they detached from economic interests (O. P. Richmond and I. Tellidis Globalizations 17, 935–952; 2020).