The Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center welcomed its first foreign exchange officer in September hailing from the Netherlands. Dr. Merel Ekelhof joins the JAIC team after serving in the Netherlands Ministry of Defense as an AI innovation manager at the Defence Materiel Organization Joint IV Commando. She also served as a Dutch government adviser on issues related to autonomous weapons.
As a member of the JAIC’s strategy and policy team, Ekelhof will focus on issues related to AI governance, policy and ethics, and international partnerships.
“We are pleased to welcome Merel to the JAIC team and we look forward to leveraging her knowledge and expertise in artificial intelligence and autonomy,” said Lt. General Michael Groen, JAIC Director. “Having an foreign exchange officer on our JAIC team will strengthen our collaboration in the international space and allow us to share intellectual capital and knowledge to promote safe, ethical, and responsible applications of AI for military use.”
Ekelhof has a background in international law and politics and specialized in military targeting and command and control through her fieldwork, her participation in targeting exercises, and the successful completion of courses on targeting and weapons law. She also qualified as a certified NATO JFAC targeteer. Prior to serving in the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, Ekelhof was the lead researcher on AI and autonomy at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. She was also a visiting researcher at the Harvard Law School Program for International Law and Armed Conflict.
Ekelhof holds a PhD in Law and a Master of Law and Politics of International Security from VU Amsterdam. Her doctoral research is titled “The Distributed Conduct of War: Reframing Debates on Autonomous Weapons, Human Control, and Legal Compliance in Targeting.”
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