Converging security threats in a changing world

Against a backdrop of geopolitical instability, society is being transformed in unanticipated ways, with unprecedented levels of threat to security. War, terrorism, conflict and forced displacement of peoples pose international socio-political challenges even in the most stable of societies. The ‘war on terror’ has run for a longer period than World Wars I and II combined, and continues unabated with no likely end in sight. As a result, modern anti-terrorism laws have taken on a character of permanence, and will reshape society, creating new precedents, understandings, expectations and political conventions. In other areas of global impact such as rapidly emerging new technologies, laws and technical procedures to mitigate risk are either entirely absent or not fit for purpose.

Technological and scientific advances in computer science, biology, artificial intelligence and weaponry have occurred at a much faster pace than our legal and regulatory frameworks for maintaining security. Dual-use technology is that developed to benefit humanity, but which may also be used to harm humanity, either deliberately or by accident. The world is in uncharted territory, with no systematic means of risk-analysis of dual-use technology. These technologies, whether cyber, biological, artificial intelligence, nuclear, or new generation weaponry, are equally accessible to terrorist groups as they are for legitimate use. The convergence of such diverse security threats is an existential threat to human survival and cannot be addressed through traditional approaches. These threats cross national boundaries, and cannot be effectively managed either in the traditional disciplinary silos or by individual nation-states, but require coordinated research, thought leadership and novel, cross-disciplinary, global solutions.

War, terrorism and biological weapons of mass destruction

War and conflict continue to be the common feature of the human experience, but with advanced technology compared to previous conflicts. Compounding this, there are more displaced people and refugees in the world today than any time in history. The recent change that has upset the previous understanding war has been the advent of powerful non-state actors across the globe, using constantly changing methods of attack. This has challenged the fundamentals of the nation-state that has been the template for the modern understanding of war since the Treaty of Westphalia. The weapons used in war, conflict and acts of terrorism are also changing, including the use of drones and artificial intelligence in warfare. Changes have also occurred in methods used in terrorist acts, such as use of aircraft in 9/11, or the use of vehicles by homegrown violent extremists. Technology has led to quantum advances in biological and cyber weapons, which create new vulnerabilities…Click HERE to read full article.