On Tuesday, August 1 from 10:00 to 11:00 am, Gary Ackerman, Director of START"s Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT) division, will give a lecture at START HQ titled "AI, Drones, CRISPR and 3-D Printing: Emerging Technology as a Sandbox for Terrorists". The event is free and open to the public, but RSVP's are appreciated.
Among the many global dynamics rising to the fore in the 21st century, two of the most prominent are the growth in the systemic influence of terrorists and other violent non-state actors, and the advent of a range of transformational technologies. In the context of homeland security, there is particular concern with respect to the nexus of these two forces, where it is feared that terrorists might adopt emerging technologies, such as synthetic biology or quantum computing, to magnify the threat that they pose. On the one hand, it is tempting to inflate the threat, painting terrorists as Bondian-supervillians capable of casually constructing doomsday weapons, while ignoring the multiple hurdles inherent in such enterprises and the empirical fact that in the past most terrorists most of the time have shown themselves to be conservative and imitative rather than innovative in their tactics and weapons.On the other hand, it may be even more hazardous to assume that terrorists will never be able to successfully adopt new technologies, when there exist several historical examples of terrorists doing just that. This talk will explore the threat of terrorists exploiting emerging technologies to attack the homeland, highlighting START's recent work in this area. It will also examine the policy ramifications of the threat and discuss how, at the policy and strategic levels, the threat can be understood and mitigated.