Strategic Implications of Emerging Technologies

  • June 01, 2009
  • Dr Antulio J Echevarria II

KEY INSIGHTS: • The conference could only scratch the surface regarding the strategic implications of several important emerging technologies, namely, biogenetics, biometrics, nanotechnologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, alternative energies, and electromagnetic weaponry. More research is needed in the form of additional conferences, individual studies, and war games, comparing the development of these potentially game-changing technologies globally. • While technical expertise appears plentiful within the U.S. Department of Defense and America’s private sector, both would benefit from the addition of more “strategists” capable of assessing, without prejudice, how individual technologies, or combinations of them, might shift the strategic balance of power, and over what timeframe. • The IT revolution is far from over, but it is no longer necessarily the most important one affecting national security; the defense community needs a means for providing greater awareness of technological advances, and on an ongoing basis. • Ethical and legal guidelines must keep pace with, or even anticipate, technological innovations, particularly those that can change the way we think about armed conflict, combatants and noncombatants. The field of robotics, for instance, is already challenging traditional notions of what it means to be a combatant. • Without policy changes and an increase in funding, the exploration of alternative fuels will not yield results capable of supplementing fossil fuels in any significant way over the next 2 decades.