For Immediate Release: Feb. 7, 2023
(WASHINGTON, DC) — A new report from the Arms Control Association assesses the extent to which the military utilization of emerging technologies will result in or exacerbate the accidental, unintended, or premature use of nuclear weapons in a great-power crisis. The report also provides a framework strategy for curtailing the indiscriminate weaponization of emerging technologies.
Increasingly in recent years, the major powers have sought to exploit advanced technologies— artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, and hypersonics, among others—to gain battlefield advantages. Some officials and analysts posit that such emerging technologies will revolutionize warfare, making obsolete the weapons and strategies of the past.
Yet, before the major powers move quickly ahead with the weaponization of these technologies, there is a great need for policymakers, defense officials, diplomats, journalists, educators, and members of the public to better understand the unintended and hazardous outcomes of these technologies.
“As was the case during World Wars I and II, the major powers are rushing ahead with the weaponization of advanced technologies before they have fully considered—let alone attempted to mitigate—the consequences of doing so, including the risk of significant civilian casualties and the accidental or inadvertent escalation of conflict,” writes Michael Klare, a senior visiting fellow and board member at the Arms Control Association.
“While the media and the U.S. Congress have devoted much attention to the purported benefits of exploiting cutting-edge technologies for military use, far less has been said about the risks involved,” he emphasizes.
This primer, Assessing the Dangers: Emerging Military Technologies and Nuclear (In)Stability, unpacks the concept of “emerging technologies” and summarizes the debate over their utilization for military purposes and their impact on strategic stability.
The report provides a deep analysis of four particular technologies—autonomous weapons systems, hypersonic weapons, cyber weapons, and automated battlefield decision-making systems—and details an overarching strategy for mitigating their dangerous weaponization and their associated risks. The primer provides an invaluable resource for policymakers, journalists, educators, and others seeking a concise yet comprehensive overview of recent developments in the field.
The full report is available for download at ArmsControl.org/Reports.