23 October 2017

10 trends for the future of warfare

In the science fiction movies we were used to see  killer robots, machine augmented heroes, laser weapons  battles in space , cyber  war  etc.. Now they have started to liven up sober academic journals and government white papers. However, war is about much more than combat or how we fight. Is the sensationalism of high-tech weaponry blinding us to technology’s impact on the broader social, political and cultural context that determines why, where and when war happens, what makes it more or less likely, and who wins?

Consider artificial intelligence (AI).  As robots relieve humans of their jobs, some societies will prove better prepared than others in their use of education and infrastructures for transitioning workers into new, socially sustainable and economically productive ways to make a living. Less prepared nations could see increasingly stark inequality, with economically-excluded young people undermining social stability, losing faith with technocratic governance, and spurring the rise of leaders who aim popular anger at an external enemy.

Today, new modes and artefacts of industrial production will also change demand patterns,
empowering countries controlling supply and transit, and disempowering others. Progress in
energy production and storage efficiency is likely to have profound consequences
for the petro economies and the security challenges of their regions. In the midst of a maritime dispute with Japan in 2010, China restricted export of “rare earths” that are critical for computing, sensors, permanent magnets and energy storage. With ever more commercial and military value embedded in the technology sector, such key materials will be deemed “critical” or “strategic” in terms of national security, and be subject to political as well as market forces.

In the 20th Century, the “haves and have nots” of the nuclear weapons club membership became the major determinant of the post-war global order, and – as seen in the cases of Iran and North Korea today - this continues to be relevant. Stealth technology and precision guided missiles used to impose a “new world order” in the early 1990s showed how the gap in military capability separated the United States from others, sustaining its leadership of a “unipolar” order. However, According to the current US deputy secretary of defence Robert Work, “There’s no question that US military technological superiority is beginning to erode”.

The 10 trends for the future of warfare can be summarised as below.

Waging war may seem “easier”. If increased reliance on machines for remote killing makes combat more abstract from our everyday experience, could that make it more tolerable for our societies, and therefore make war more likely? Those who operate lethal systems are ever more distant from the battlefield and insulated from physical danger, but this sense of advantage may prove illusory. Those on the receiving end of technological asymmetries have a stronger incentive to find other ways to strike back: when you cannot compete on a traditional battlefield, you look to where your adversary is vulnerable, such as through opportunistic attacks on civilians.

Speed kills. “The speed at which machines can make decisions in the far future is likely to
challenge our ability to cope, demanding a new relationship between man and machine.” The speed of technological innovation also makes it hard to keep abreast of new military capabilities, easier to be misled on the actual balance of power, and to fall victim to a strategic miscalculation.   General Hix  at a conference on the future of the Army in October 2016 said: "A conventional conflict in the near future will be extremely lethal and fast, And we will not own the stopwatch."

Fear and uncertainty increase risk. The expectation that asymmetries could change quickly – as may be the case with new strategic capabilities in areas like artificial intelligence, space, deep sea and cyber – could incentivise risk taking and aggressive behaviour. If you are confident that you have a lead in a strategically significant but highly dynamic field of technology, but you are not confident that the lead will last, you might be more tempted to use it before a rival catches up. Under these conditions, war by mistake either through over confidence in your ability to win, or because of exaggerated threat perception  becomes more likely.

Deterrence and preemption. When new capabilities cause a shift in the balance between
offensive and defensive advantage – or even the perception of such a shift -, it could increase the incentives for aggression. For example, one of the pillars of nuclear deterrence is the “second strike” capability, which puts the following thought into the mind of an actor contemplating a nuclear attack: “even if I destroy my opponent’s country totally, their submarines will still be around to take revenge”. But suppose swarms of undersea drones were able to track and neutralize the submarines that launch nuclear missiles? Such capabilities make it possible in theory for an actor to escape the fear of second strike retaliation, and feel safer in launching a pre emptive strike  Cyberattacks on banks, power stations and government institutions have demonstrated that it is no longer necessary to fly bombers around the world to reach a distant enemy’s critical infrastructure without early warning. 

The new arms race is harder to control. One of the mechanisms for strategic stability is arms control agreements, which have served to limit the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. When it comes to the multiple combinations of technology we see as a hallmark of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, one of the obstacles to international agreement is caused by uncertainty about how strategic benefits will be distributed. For instance, the international community is currently debating both the ethics and practicality of a ban on the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems. One of the factors holding this debate back from a conclusion is a lack of consensus among experts about whether such systems would give an advantage to the defender or the attacker, and hence be more likely to deter or incentivize the escalation of conflict. Where you stand on the issue may depend on whether you see yourself as a master of the technology, or a victim. 

A wider cast of players. As cutting-edge technology becomes cheaper, it spreads to a wider range of actors. Consider the development of nuclear bombs – the last breakthrough in weapons technology that re-wrote the rules of international security. Although the potential for a fission bomb was understood in terms of theoretical physics, putting it into practice involved thousands of scientists and billions of dollars – resources on a scale only a few nations could muster. Over 70 years later, the club of nuclear weapons states remains exclusively small, and no non-state actor has succeeded in acquiring nuclear capability.
In contrast, there are more than 70 nations operating earth-orbiting satellites today. Nanosatellites are launched by Universities and Corporations. These days, even a committed enthusiast can now feasibly do genetic engineering in their basement. Other examples of dual purpose technologies include encryption, surveillance, drones, AI and genomics. With commercial availability, proliferation of these technologies becomes wider and faster, creating more peer competitors on the state level and among non-state actors, and making it harder to broker agreements to stop them falling into the wrong hands.

The grey zone. The democratisation of weaponisable technology empowers non state actors and individuals to create havoc on a massive scale. It also threatens stability by offering states more options in the form of “hybrid” warfare and the use of proxies to create plausible deniability and strategic ambiguity. When it is technically difficult to attribute an attack – already true with cyber, and becoming an issue with autonomous drones – conflicts can become more prone to escalation and unintended consequences.

Pushing the moral boundaries. Institutions governing legal and moral restraints on the
conduct of war or controlling proliferation date from an era when massively destructive
technology was reserved to a small, distinct set of actors – mostly states or people acting under state sponsorship. Today militaries are no longer necessarily at the cutting edge of technology: most of the talent driving research and development in today’s transformative dual use technologies is privately employed, in part because the private sector simply has access to more money. For example, the private sector has invested more in AI research and development in five years than governments have since AI research first started. Diminishing state control of talent is epitomised by Uber`s recruitment of a team of robotics researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015, which decimated the research effort they had had been working on for the United States department of Defence.  State centric institutions for maintaining international security have failed to develop a systematic approach to address the possible long term security implications of advances in areas as diverse as nanotechnology, synthetic biology, big data and machine learning. 

Expanding domains of conflict. Domains of potential conflict such as outer space, the deep oceans, and the Arctic – all perceived as gateways to economic and strategic advantage – are expanding via new technologies and materials that can overcome inhospitable conditions. Like cyberspace, these are less well-governed than the familiar domains of land, sea and air: their lack of natural borders can make them difficult to reconcile with existing international legal frameworks.  Technological development is both rapid and private sector driven, which makes it hard for governance institutions to keep up. 

What is physically possible becomes likely. Political conflict is the “realm of exception” in all sorts of ways that make the morally unthinkable not only possible, but more likely. Professor Ole Wæver and the Copenhagen School of international relations developed the concept of “securitisation” to describe how a security actor invokes the principle of necessity as a way of getting around legal or moral restraints. Policy-makers can argue that because non-state actors, terrorist and criminal groups can access new technology, they are obliged to pursue weaponization, in order to prepare an adequate defence. Public disquiet can also be bypassed by conducting research in secret.

4th Industrial Revolution is empowering the individual through technology, and the way that blurs the lines between war and peace, military and civilian, domestic and foreign, public and private, and physical and digital. Nonstate groups’ leveraging of global social media - whether to gain support, undermine the morale of opponents, sow confusion or provoke a response that will create an advantage – has increased the strategic importance of shaping perceptions and narratives about international security. ISIS’s use of online videos provide an extreme example of a non state actor using social media to drive recruitment, while state security services in select countries employ online “trolls” on a large scale. Consider the implications for democratic control over armed force when technologies like big data analytics, machine learning, behavioural science and chatbots are fully enlisted in the battle over perceptions and control of the narrative.

Little by little, the responsibility for defending citizens is effectively shifting away from the state and towards the private sector. It is, for example, your bank’s security chief who bears responsibility for protecting your money from international cyber theft, whether it comes from straightforward criminal groups or those acting under the sponsorship of sovereign states. A report by Internet security company McAfee and the think-tank CSIS estimated the likely annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime at more than $400 billion – roughly equivalent to the combined defence spending of the European Union, or the Asia region.

According to 17th century political theorist Thomas Hobbes, the citizen agrees to give up some freedom and render loyalty in exchange for protection and to escape the “natural condition” of life, which was otherwise “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. In return, the state expects respect for its laws. But if citizens lose confidence in the state’s capacity to guarantee their security, be it through military protection or domestic justice and policing or social safety nets, they may also feel less of an obligation to be loyal to the state in return.  
Could the relative loss of state power fatally undermine the system of international security?

As attitudes adapt to the new distribution of security responsibility between individuals,
companies and institutions of governance, there is a need for a new approach to international security. There is plenty of room for debate about how that approach should look, but the baseline can be drawn through three points: 

It will need to be able to think long-term, 

Adapt rapidly to the implications of technological advances, 

Work in a spirit of partnership with a wide range of stakeholders. 

Institutional barriers between civilian and military spheres are being torn down. Outreach to Silicon Valley is a feature of current US Defence policy, for example, as are invitations to hackers to help the Department of Defence to maintain its advantage in the digital domain. The “third offset strategy” promoted by the last US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter is based on a recognition that private sector innovation has outstripped that of military institutions in the post-Cold War era, and a more open relationship with business as well as with academic and science institutions could prove vital to maintaining the dominance of US military capabilities.

States and other security actors need to start exploring with each other some of the concepts and modes of operation that would make such a networked approach sustainable, legitimate and fit for the ultimate purpose of maintaining stability and promoting peaceful coexistence in the emerging international security landscape. Instead of meeting each other in court, as the FBI met the Apple Corporation to settle their dispute about encryption, security providers could meet across a table, under new forms of public oversight and agile governance, as partners in a common endeavour. Some of the questions that need to be answered are : What cast of actors populate this wider security ecosystem? What are shared priorities in terms of risks? What are some of the potential models for peer to peer security? How can the 4th Industrial Revolution be used to give citizens a stronger sense of control over choices of governance, or to deny space to criminal organizations and corrupt practices? Can smart contracts using block chain technology be applied to build confidence in financial transactions and peace agreements? Can defensive alliances be expanded to include or even consist entirely of non-state actors? Should international law extend the right to use proportionate force in self defence in cyber conflict to commercial actors? What aspects of these challenges are a matter for legal instruments and regulation, and what aspects will require a new approach?

The answers that may emerge to these questions are unpredictable – but what is clear is the need to have a conversation that reaches across generations and across disciplines. This conversation has to be global. International security is threatened by a loss of trust, in particular between those who drew power from the last industrial revolution and those whose power is rising within a fluid and complex environment. The conversation needs to foster mutual understanding, dispel unjustified fears, and revive public confidence in new forms of responsive leadership that manifestly serve the common good.

[ This article is based on a World Economic Forum project on the relationship between the Fourth Industrial Revolution and International Security, drawing on conversations at a number of World Economic Forum events in 2015 and 2016. ]

In my next paper I shall discuss Defence Implications of Emerging Technologies


Indian Air Force wants out of fighter program with Russia

By: Vivek Raghuvanshi 

NEW DELHI – The ambitious $10 billion Indo-Russian program for joint development and production of fifth generation fighter aircraft, or FGFA, faces a new serious hurdle, as the Indian Air Force demands a discontinuation of the project. Senior IAF leadership recently expressed apprehension to the Ministry of Defence, claiming the proposed FGFA program with Russia does not meet desired requirements like U.S. F-35 fighter type capabilities, disclosed a senior IAF official. That official added, that “IAF is not keen to continue with the program.”

How an oil and gas giant outmaneuvered low oil prices


Italian oil and gas company Eni has transformed under a leader determined to reduce costs without cutting jobs—instead including employees in the turnaround mission.Transforming a business that must reduce costs doesn’t always have to mean pain for employees—even if that business is a multinational energy company hit hard by dropping oil prices. In this interview, Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi speaks with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland about navigating the oil and gas company amid drastic drops in oil prices, securing exploration successes, reinvesting capital gains, and driving a comprehensive culture change.

Is China marching towards the worst world war in history? MAX HASTINGS examines how the new superpower became emboldened AND embittered - and how its leaders' desire for global domination may lead to a conflict with America

By MAX HASTINGS

With the busy lives that everybody leads and one eye on the clock for when Tescoshuts, you might have failed to notice that Beijing has this week been hosting the 19th Congress of the Communist Party. Some 2,300 unswervingly loyal apparatchiks have gathered to cheer to the rafters President Xi Jinping, the most powerful man in the world.

Scary Statistic: China’s Debt to GDP Ratio Reached 257 Percent in 2017

Peiyuan Lan

Concerns about China’s massive debt pile tend towards hyperbole. Doomsayers see China’s debt as unsustainable, which it is. They predict that an economic crisis is near — which it is not. If we look beyond the doom and gloom, there is much to indicate that China is far away from a looming financial crisis.There are many credible warning signs that China has a debt problem that should be taken seriously. 

CHINA BUILDING TOP MILITARY AND ECONOMY, BUT 'WEST MAY NOT BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND' ITS RISE TO POWER

BY TOM O'CONNOR 

As General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi has been extremely influential in molding Beijing's signature ideology of "socialism with Chinese characteristics" and his take on it has already been classified as a unique political theory, ranking him with the likes of Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong, according to the BBC. The Communist Party argued Thursday, however, that the West may view Xi's plan as a threat when in fact "sharing interests with the rest of the world is the true pursuit of China."

Strategic Rebalancing Act: Behind China's Drive to Build World's Strongest Army


Speaking at the 19th Congress of China's Communist Party, General Secretary Xi Jinping pledged to complete the modernization of the country's military by 2035, and to transform it into a world-class fighting force by 2050. Military observer Andrei Kotz takes a closer look at the People's Liberation Army's plans for the future.

With commercial satellite imagery, computer learns to quickly find missile sites in China

by Sandra Erwin
Source Link

Deep machine learning algorithms can help government agencies analyze satellite imagery. For all the hype and promise around artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in military applications, it always comes down to what specifically can be done with it. The industry keeps rolling out new gee-whiz artificial intelligence tools but the defense and intelligence communities still are trying to figure out how to use them and whether they really work as promised.

Xi Jinping Has Quietly Chosen His Own Successor

BY ANDREI LUNGU
Source Link

Until recently, Sun Zhengcai, the party secretary of the metropolis of Chongqing, “the Chicago on the Yangtze,” was seen as a possible successor to Xi Jinping. Then, in July, the Communist Party of China launched an investigation against him for corruption, leading to Sun’s dismissal from office and the precipitous end to his political career.

The Resistible Rise of Xi Jinping


China’s 19th Party Congress began Wednesday with a three-and-a-half-hour speech by Xi Jinping, a telling sign of a man who knows he has to be listened to. The general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party — usually referred to in English by his far less important title of “president” — is the heart of a weeklong love fest in Beijing as officials gather to determine the makeup of the leadership for the next five years and more.

CHINA’S TROUBLING CRACKDOWN ON RESEARCH

GRAEME SMITH

Censorship of academic research in China is nothing new. Back in 2008 as I was finishing a long stint in rural China, Chinese officials and academics were talking about the “good old days of Jiang Zemin.” At first it seemed to be a joke; how could you possibly miss former premier Li Peng? He was still the butt of most political jokes, skewered either for his fabled stupidity, a voice so high-pitched that it was voiced over on the evening news, his love of karaoke, or all three.

Turkey’s Incursion into Syria: Making Things Better or Worse?

By Steven Cook

It is not easy to follow what has been happening in Syria. After six years of war and between 300,000 and 400,000 people killed — with half the population displaced and a dizzying array of factions, foreign armies and extremist groups fighting — it is hard to know who shares what interest with whom or how the killing stops.

U.S. Seeks to Stay Neutral in Iraq Conflict

by Ben Kesling, Nancy A. Youssef and Paul Sonne

The U.S. sought to stay on the sidelines as an all-out battle broke out between two of its closest ground partners in the campaign against Islamic State and raised concerns about a broader civil conflict erupting in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered federal troops to push into Kirkuk province early Monday and occupy strategic locations that Kurdish Peshmerga forces had taken in a disputed area during the three-year battle against the Sunni militant group. The clashes follow a referendum in which the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in northern Iraq, voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence, defying Baghdad, regional powers and the U.S, which warned it would distract from the final battles to defeat Islamic State.

With Loss of Its Caliphate, ISIS May Return to Guerrilla Roots

by Margaret Coker

Its de facto capital is falling. Its territory has shriveled from the size of Portugal to a handful of outposts. Its surviving leaders are on the run.But rather than declare the Islamic State and its virulent ideology conquered, many Western and Arab counterterrorism officials are bracing for a new, lethal incarnation of the jihadist group.The organization has a proven track record as an insurgency able to withstand major military onslaughts, while still recruiting adherents around the world ready to kill in its name.


Can ISIS Survive Defeat in Raqqa?

Milo Comerford

As the last remaining ISIS fighters are hunted down in Raqqa after a four-month Kurdish-led and US-backed offensive, some are heralding the group’s final defeat, three years and four months after it declared its ‘Caliphate’ across Syria and northern Iraq.But while its impending territorial defeat is significant, reports of ISIS’s death are wrong.You can’t kill an idea. Especially when the group has laid down deep ideological roots through its “Islamic state,” building a flourishing global network and a considerable online presence.

Journalism’s Broken Business Model Won’t Be Solved by Billionaires

By William D. Cohan

Ever since Donald Graham, the heir to the Washington Post, decided to sell the family’s newspaper for two hundred and fifty million dollars, in 2013, to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and one of the world’s richest men, the preferred solution for a financially struggling publication has been to find a deep-pocketed billionaire, with other sources of income, to buy it and run it more or less as a philanthropic endeavor.

A ‘World Without Mind’: Big Tech’s Dangerous Influence


French philosopher Rene Descartes famously said “I think, therefore I am.” But in the digital age, what we think and how we live are being influenced in a big way by just a handful of tech firms: We are informed by Google and entertained by Apple; we socialize on Facebook and shop on Amazon. It’s time to reclaim our identities and reassert our intellectual independence, according to Franklin Foer, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and former editor of The New Republic, in his book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. He recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111, to explain why these firms’ hold on society is a cautionary tale for the future.

A peek inside Army cyber protection teams

By: Mark Pomerleau 

Of the four types of teams that make up the cyber mission force — the 133-team cadre of cyber warriors the four service branches provide to U.S. Cyber Command — cyber protection teams (CPTs) serve as the quick reaction defensive force responding to network intrusions.

Rumbles of the Quantum Computing Revolution in Security


FRITZ LODGE 

Imagine a sensor that could instantly detect nuclear submarines deep underwater, a supercomputer that can break the strongest encryption in the blink of an eye, or a worldwide satellite network of theoretically unbreakable communications. These are just a few of the capabilities promised by quantum physics, a century-old science, which found that particles have unique and unexpected properties at the smallest scale. Scientists have long theorized that these properties could revolutionize computing, sensing and a host of other technologies.

The End of Internet Exceptionalism?

Jeremy White

Long accustomed to lauding technology companies as paragons of American creativity and entrepreneurship, legislators sifting through evidence of Russian election influence are turning their attention to how the freewheeling world of online speech has permeated our politics. 


Understanding Disinformation


Disinformation is a relatively new word. Most observers trace it back to the Russian word dezinformatsiya, which Soviet planners in the 1950s defined as “dissemination (in the press, on the radio, etc.) of false reports intended to mislead public opinion.” Others suggest that the earliest use of the term originated in 1930s Nazi Germany. In either case, it is much younger (and less commonly used) than ‘propaganda,' which originated in the 1600s and generally connotes the selective use of information for political effect.

22 October 2017

Key Emerging Technologies

“New technologies are redefining industries, blurring traditional boundaries and creating new opportunities on a scale never seen before. Public and private institutions must develop the correct policies, protocols and collaborations to allow such innovation to build a better future, while avoiding the risks that unchecked technological change could pose,” said Murat Sönmez, Head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum.

The emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will inevitably transform the world in many ways – some that are desirable and others that are not. The extent to which the benefits are maximized and the risks mitigated will depend on the quality of governance – the rules, norms, standards, incentives, institutions, and other mechanisms that shape the development and deployment of each particular technology.

Too often the debate about emerging technologies takes place at the extremes of possible responses: among those who focus intently on the potential gains and others who dwell on the potential dangers. The real challenge lies in navigating between these two poles: building understanding and awareness of the trade-offs and tensions we face, and making informed decisions about how to proceed. This task is becoming more pressing as technological change deepens and accelerates, and as we become more aware of the lagged societal, political and even geopolitical impact of earlier waves of innovation.
Twelve Key Emerging Technologies

3D printing. Advances in additive manufacturing, using a widening range of materials and methods; innovations include 3D bioprinting of organic tissues.

Advanced materials and nanomaterials. Creation of new materials and nanostructures for the development of beneficial material properties, such as thermoelectric efficiency, shape retention and new functionality.

Artificial intelligence and robotics. Development of machines that can substitute for humans, increasingly in tasks associated with thinking, multitasking, and fine motor skills.
Biotechnologies. Innovations in genetic engineering, sequencing and therapeutics, as well as biological computational interfaces and synthetic biology.

Energy capture, storage and transmission. Breakthroughs in battery and fuel cell efficiency; renewable energy through solar, wind, and tidal technologies; energy distribution through smart grid systems, wireless energy transfer and more.

Blockchain and distributed ledger. Distributed ledger technology based on cryptographic systems that manage, verify and publicly record transaction data; the basis of "cryptocurrencies" such as bitcoin.

Geoengineering. Technological intervention in planetary systems, typically to mitigate effects of climate change by removing carbon dioxide or managing solar radiation.

Ubiquitous linked sensors.  Also known as the "Internet of Things". The use of networked sensors to remotely connect, track and manage products, systems, and grids.

Neurotechnologies.  Innovations such as smart drugs, neuroimaging, and bioelectronic interfaces that allow for reading, communicating and influencing human brain activity.

New computing technologies.  New architectures for computing hardware, such as quantum computing, biological computing or neural network processing, as well as innovative expansion of current computing technologies.

Space technologies.  Developments allowing for greater access to and exploration of space, including microsatellites, advanced telescopes, reusable rockets and integrated rocket-jet engines.

Virtual and augmented realities.  Next-step interfaces between humans and computers, involving immersive environments, holographic readouts and digitally produced overlays for mixed-reality experiences.

Source: The 12 emerging technologies listed here are drawn from World Economic Forum Handbook on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (forthcoming, 2017)

.Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018  Published: 03 October 2017

  • Trend No. 1: AI Foundation. Today's AI Is Narrow AI
  • Trend No. 2: Intelligent Apps and Analytics. Augmented Analytics Will Enable Users to Spend More Time Acting on Insights
  • Trend No. 3: Intelligent Things.Swarms of Intelligent Things Will Work Together
  • Trend No. 4: Digital Twins.Digital Twins Will Be Linked to Other Digital Entities
  • Trend No. 5: Cloud to the Edge.Edge Computing Brings Distributed Computing Into the Cloud Style
  • Trend No. 6: Conversational Platforms.Integration With Third-Party Services Will Further Increase Usefulness
  • Trend No. 7: Immersive Experience. VR and AR Can Help Increase Productivity
  • Trend No. 8: Blockchain. Blockchain Offers Significant Potential Long-Term Benefits Despite Its Challenges
  • Trend No. 9: Event-Driven Model. Events Will Become More Important in the Intelligent Digital Mesh
  • Trend No. 10: Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust. Barriers Must Come Down Between Security and Application Teams 
MIT Technical Review gives out 10 Breakthrough Technologies in  2017

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2017

Reversing Paralysis. Scientists are making remarkable progress at using brain implants
to restore the freedom of movement that spinal cord injuries take away.

Self-Driving Trucks. Tractor-trailers without a human at the wheel will soon barrel onto
highways near you. What will this mean for the nation’s 1.7 million truck drivers?

Paying with Your Face. Face-detecting systems in China now authorize payments, provide
access to facilities, and track down criminals. Will other countries follow?

Practical Quantum Computers. Advances at Google, Intel, and several research groups indicate that computers with previously unimaginable power are finally within reach.

The 360-Degree Selfie. Inexpensive cameras that make spherical images are opening a
new era in photography and changing the way people share stories.

Hot Solar Cells. By converting heat to focused beams of light, a new solar device
could create cheap and continuous power.

Gene Therapy 2.0. Scientists have solved fundamental problems that were holding
back cures for rare hereditary disorders. Next we’ll see if the same approach can take on cancer, heart disease, and other common illnesses.

The Cell Atlas. Biology’s next mega-project will find out what we’re really made of.
Botnets of Things. The relentless push to add connectivity to home gadgets is creating
dangerous side effects that figure to get even worse.

Reinforcement Learning. By experimenting, computers are figuring out how to do things that no programmer could teach them.

Third annual report on emerging trends in science and technology (S&T) published by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology (DASA R&T).2016 gives out the following emerging trends in science and technology

• Robotics and autonomous systems 

• Additive manufacturing 

• Analytics 

• Human augmentation 

• Mobile and cloud  computing 

• Medical advances 

• Cyber 

• Energy 

• Smart cities 

• Internet of things 

• Food and water technology 

• Quantum computing 

• Social empowerment 

• Advanced digital 

• Blended reality 

• Technology for climate change 

• Advanced materials 

• Novel weaponry 

• Space 

• Synthetic biology 

• Changing nature of work 

• Privacy 

• Education 

• Transportation and Logistics

Emerging trends in S&T over the next 30 years will play out against a background of ongoing sociopolitical, economic, and environmental change. Over the coming decides, six key trends are likely to shape the nexus between sociopolitical change, technology, and security: 

• Urbanization 

• Climate change 

• Resource constraints 

• Shifting demographics 

• Globalization of innovation 

• Rise of a global middle class

International Security Landscape


The history of warfare and international security is the history of technological innovation, and the modern era is no exception. The advent of nuclear technology, for example, led to the doctrine of deterrence through mutually assured destruction. More recent advances such as unmanned vehicles and precision mortars and missiles have increasingly minimized both own-side causalities and collateral damage, and with them the risk of unwanted shifts in public opinion, while placing ever more of a premium on accurate intelligence.


The fear of what both friends and foes are developing, and willing to use, could overwhelm existing processes of oversight, dialogue, diplomacy and control, disrupting our ability to make informed and politically sound decisions. Rapid advances in any of the following technologies could potentially destabilize fragile balances of power and permanently alter the international security landscape, entrenching disparities between countries or heralding chaos.

Here are eight technologies that are changing the international security landscape:

1. Drones. Essentially, drones are flying robots. The US appears to be leading the way with over 11,000 such vehicles, but the technology is spreading widely as it becomes more affordable: even North Korea reportedly possesses advanced drone technology, while offthe- shelf quadcopter drones are already being used by narcotics gangs to spy on and eliminate rivals. Last year saw the first instance of a US civilian shooting down a drone when a neighbour flew it over his property.

2. Autonomous weapons. When drone technology is combined with artificial intelligence, the result is so-called “autonomous weapons” which can select and engage targets based on pre-defined criteria and without human intervention. These have been called potentially the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear. We might still be a long way from Hollywood’s humanoid-looking robots, coldly deciding who lives and dies; but current technology is advanced enough for, say, an armed quadcopter using facial recognition software to identify targets from a database and open fire. The risks of automated weapons are clear: for example, facial recognition is still far from reliable; while human override mechanisms can theoretically be built in, they can malfunction; and automated weapons could be hacked by malicious parties.

3. Wearable devices. Possible military uses here include sensing moods to avoid poor decision making; tracking bodily functions to optimize health and performance; “exoskeletons” to enhance soldiers’ performance, with current technology already allowing a human to carry loads of around 90kg without difficulty; and spying. In a real-life story reminiscent of an Ian Fleming novel, a lady styling herself as SexyCyborg has posted online about how she 3D-printed shoes with a hidden drawer where she installed devices for gathering information, then used her seductive appearance to gain entrance to organizations, evading the traditional detection mechanisms such as being asked to leave mobile equipment at the door.

4. Additive manufacturing. 3D printing has already been tested by both the US and Chinese armies in war games, and could revolutionize supply chains by enabling replacement parts to be manufactured in the field from digitally transmitted designs and locally available materials. Militaries are even aiming to be able to print food, and skin and prosthetics for those injured in service. Questions remain to be solved, however, around intellectual property, quality control and liability. As printers become more precise and able to use more materials, there is also a risk of proliferation of certain types of weapon systems as it becomes easier to copy critical technologies and bypass normal restrictions such as export controls. Additive manufacturing techniques could enable the development of new kinds of warhead, with greater control of particle size and direction on detonation.

5. Renewable energy. The capacity to generate power locally could revolutionize supply chains as much as the capacity to print parts locally. Militaries are already at the forefront of developing solar technologies, including dye-sensitized light harvesting materials which can harness light energy outside the visible spectrum. Nanomaterials embedded in clothes could potentially also turn them into a significant method of energy generation.

6. Nanotechnology. Our ability to manipulate particles at the nano scale has progressed significantly in the last decade, and we are rapidly developing technology to make “metamaterials” which have properties that do not occur naturally. Some conceivable applications still remain in the realm of science fiction, such as Star Trek-type “cloaking devices”, and systems which can self-replicate and self-assemble. We have also barely scratched the surface of possible ways to exploit quantum effects of matter at supercooled temperatures. Still, in the short term, related innovations promise to make weaponry better, lighter, more mobile, smarter, and more precise. One challenge is that nano electronics need vast amounts of power; another is that it will be significantly harder to monitor the

proliferation of nano weapons than, say, nuclear weapons.

7. Biological weapons. While the history of biological warfare is nearly as old as the history of warfare itself, rapid developments in biotechnology, genetics and genomics are opening up new and highly lethal avenues for the creation of new biological weapons. We are already capable of altering cells and creating killer viruses. Airborne designer viruses, engineered superbugs and genetically modified plagues all seem like potential doomsday scenarios. The global norms against biological weapons, laid down in the 1925 Geneva Convention and the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, are coming under pressure as the capacity to create lethal biological weapons becomes more widespread.

8. Bio-chemical weapons. The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits any use of chemicals, including ‘non-lethal’ chemicals, in warfare situations – but here, too, technological advances are making such weapons almost a “do-it-yourself” project and increasingly hard to regulate. Unmanned vehicles also offer new and effective ways of delivering chemical agents in the battlefield. Advances in neurobiology and pharmaceuticals will offer increasing possibilities to alter behavioural patterns and emotions – perhaps including cocktails of chemical drugs which change neurological signals to create warrior behaviour reminiscent of zombie movies.

What is the best response to such evolving threats? It makes little sense to try to ban the development of all technologies with the potential to create weapons of a kind which we would not want to see used. Many of the above technologies have obvious civilian applications – from delivery drones to the genetic engineering of viruses to treat diseases – and indeed are largely being developed by civilian entrepreneurs.Leaving aside the desirability of bans on the development of technologies, there is the question of feasibility. In a growing number of fields, the capacity to innovate potentially weaponizable technologies is no longer the preserve of militaries with large budgets, and can increasingly be done by small groups or individuals with off-the-shelf equipment. While technology is also improving our capacity for surveillance, it will be difficult to be confident that no group is working undetected.
The following two diagrams will explain the emerging trends and threats associated with these.

I shall discuss the effects of the emerging trends on armed forces in my next paper.