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School of Engineering

Where computer science meets international relations

Friday, April 3, 2020
Alexandra Tsitsiringos, A21, explores the intersection of computer science and international relations with the publication of a paper in the Yale Review of International Studies.
Alexandra Tsitsiringos

Alexandra Tsitsiringos, A21, published a paper titled “Narrow Artificial Intelligence Weapons Systems and their Impact on the Balance of Power” in the Yale Review of International Studies (YRIS) in March 2020.  Her paper asks a big question: How might the diffusion of military-driven narrow AI weapons platforms shift the balance of power between states that invest in such platforms and states that have not invested in them?  The paper explores whether public-private cooperation is necessary to develop AI weapons platforms and whether countries that develop such platforms early will have substantial “first-mover” advantages.  Tsitsiringos also examines how the broad adoption of AI might lead to the emergence of a new global leader or an AI arms race.

Tsitsiringos, who is majoring in international relations and computer science at Tufts, became interested in international relations while in high school, when she had the opportunity to be involved in several Model United Nations (MUN) conferences.  The conferences gave her the “initial understanding of how to do research in the field, how to have formal debates, and how policies need to be written,” she says.  This experience, combined with government high school classes offered at Harvard University, led to her interest in international relations.

Her interest in computer science took more time.  Despite not immediately warming to computer courses in high school, Tsitsiringos decided to take one more computer class at Tufts.  She was surprised to realize how much she enjoyed her class and how much she appreciated the Department of Computer Science.  The warm welcome from professors, help from teaching assistants, ever-important availability of pizza, and level of genuine student-to-student support all came together to convince Tsitsiringos to explore computer science further. While she appreciates her advisor, Associate Teaching Professor Ming Chow, for his advice and guidance, Chow describes Tsitsiringos as a standout in cybersecurity and policy, a hands-on hacker, and a true leader. Tsitsiringos is currently using those leadership skills in her capacity as president of Tufts Women in Computer Science.  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Tsitsiringos has enjoyed seeing how computer science and international relations relate to each other, and she has thrived in their intersection.  Her article in YRIS speaks to the growing influence of AI on national defense, citing the June 2018 creation of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which oversees 600 AI projects for the U.S. Department of Defense. Cybersecurity is a keen area of interest to Tsitsiringos where computer science and international relations come together.  During an internship in the summer of 2019, she and her team developed a graph-based anomaly detection system, which was her “first heavily technical experience with cybersecurity.” She continued to explore her interest this year with her classes on Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare and Computer System Security.

Tsitsiringos is planning on working at GoDaddy as a cloud security engineer intern this summer, and will return to Tufts in the fall as a senior.