The New Fire

The New Fire

War, Peace, and Democracy in the Age of AI

By Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie

AI is revolutionizing the world. Here's how democracies can come out on top.





AI is revolutionizing the world. Here's how democracies can come out on top.

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the modern world. It is ubiquitous—in our homes and offices, in the present and most certainly in the future. Today, we encounter AI as our distant ancestors once encountered fire. If we manage AI well, it will become a force for good, lighting the way to many transformative inventions. If we deploy it thoughtlessly, it will advance beyond our control. If we wield it for destruction, it will fan the flames of a new kind of war, one that holds democracy in the balance. As AI policy experts Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie show in The New Fire, few choices are more urgent—or more fascinating—than how we harness this technology and for what purpose.

The new fire has three sparks: data, algorithms, and computing power. These components fuel viral disinformation campaigns, new hacking tools, and military weapons that once seemed like science fiction. To autocrats, AI offers the prospect of centralized control at home and asymmetric advantages in combat. It is easy to assume that democracies, bound by ethical constraints and disjointed in their approach, will be unable to keep up. But such a dystopia is hardly preordained. Combining an incisive understanding of technology with shrewd geopolitical analysis, Buchanan and Imbrie show how AI can work for democracy. With the right approach, technology need not favor tyranny.


$29.95 T ISBN: 9780262046541 344 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 8 figures


  • [An] authoritative, coruscating analysis of [AI's] current and future significance.



  • The New Fire is an essential guide to the age of artificial intelligence written by two of its leading scholars. Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie help the reader understand the incredible promises and daunting perils of AI, while exploring the dramatic impact it could have on geopolitics in the decades ahead.”

    Madeleine Albright

    former US Secretary of State

  • The New Fire provides a brilliant, exceedingly readable examination of the impact of artificial intelligence on all imaginable endeavors from war and peace to politics. It is equal parts highly informative, wonderfully descriptive, and more than a bit terrifying!”

    General David Petraeus

    US Army (Ret.); former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition and US Forces in Afghanistan; former Director of the CIA

  • “Buchanan and Imbrie have created a highly readable walk through the history of machine learning and AI, using many original interviews to show us the personalities who made their mark in the field. Importantly, the book focuses as powerfully on the hope that AI brings to humanity as it does on fear—too often the dominant theme in this age of AI.”

    Rose Gottemoeller

    Steven Házy Lecturer, Freeman-Spogli Institute, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University

  • “Mixing technical depth, history, ethical philosophy, and penetrant analysis, Buchanan and Imbrie offer a comprehensive perspective on the promise and perils of machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

    Vint Cerf

    Internet Pioneer