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Category: PRISM

Jan. 10, 2020

The Challenges Facing 21st Century Military Modernization

When a military organization undertakes a modernization program, it is intuitive to expect that existing capabilities are going to be replaced by superior capabilities. There is an implied suggestion that a necessary (though not sufficient) condition of this superiority is enhanced lethality; lethality surely constitutes a necessary condition of the strategic effectiveness of the military organization in question. At the risk of stating the obvious, military organizations around the world exist to protect the security of their respective countries: in peacetime, by deterring the adversaries of the country from waging war, and in wartime, by defeating these adversaries should they choose the war option. These two missions are not mutually exclusive: “The surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one.” Nevertheless, it is possible to question the extent to which lethality subsequently connects to strategic effectiveness, which is understood here as the ability to win wars. In other words, while modernization ought to result in a military organization that is more lethal than before, this enhanced lethality does not guarantee strategic effectiveness.

Jan. 10, 2020

The Ethics of Acquiring Disruptive Technologies: Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Weapons, and Decision Support Systems

Reluctance to develop AI applications for military purposes is not going to go away as the development, acquisition, and employment of these systems challenge the traditional norms associated with not just war­fighting but morality in general. Meanwhile, as the debate rages, adversaries of the United States who do not have these ethical concerns continue with their development. China, for example, has vowed to be the leader in AI by 2030. No one should have any illusions that the Chinese will not use this dominance for military as well as civilian purposes. So, to maintain parity, if not advantage, DOD has little choice but to proceed with the development and employment of artificially intelligent systems. As it does so, ethical concerns will continue to arise, potentially excluding important expertise for their development. To include this expertise, DOD needs to confront these concerns upfront.

Jan. 10, 2020

Killing Me Softly: Competition in Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The conduct of war is being fundamentally altered by the revolutionary impact of artificial intelligence (AI). The competition in AI and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) marks the onset of the “7th Military Revolution” and the states that integrate these advances first will have a prodigious military advantage.” China has seized this moment, increasingly posing a risk to the historical technological advantage of the United States and destabilizing the foundations of modern warfare.

Jan. 9, 2020

Minds at War: China’s Pursuit of Military Advantage through Cognitive Science and Biotechnology

The United States is starting to confront unprecedented challenges to the military and technological superiority that it has enjoyed in recent history. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is emerging as a powerhouse across a range of emerging technologies, and Chinese leaders recognize today’s technological revolution as a critical, even historic, opportunity to achieve strategic advantage. As Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and Commander-in-Chief of the CMC Joint Operations Center, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping has highlighted the importance of military innovation to “keep pace with the times” (与时俱进) and adapt to the global revolution in military affairs.

Jan. 9, 2020

Strategic Competition for Emerging Military Technologies: Comparative Paths and Patterns

One of the most pressing issues in contemporary international relations is the expectation of a new era of intensifying strategic competition, characterized by the confluence of political, economic, and military-technological competitions in the context of major shifts in the global security environment.1 At the forefront of this growing strategic rivalry is the contest for future supremacy over global security and economic institutional grids between the world’s major military powers—the United States, China, and to a lesser degree, Russia.

Jan. 9, 2020

Redefining Neuroweapons: Emerging Capabilities in Neuroscience and Neurotechnology

While many types of weaponizable neuroscience and technology (neuroS/T) have been addressed in and by extant forums, treaties, conventions, and laws, other newer techniques and technologies have not. Thus, particular advances in neuroS/T have an increased potential for dual use and direct use in warfare, intelligence, and national security (WINS). In this light, this article (1) presents the WINS utility and possible applicability of gene editing methods, nanoparticles, and other tools that can modify the central nervous system; (2) discusses the value and vulnerabilities of big data and bio-cybersecurity in WINS; (3) posits how such developments bring into stark relief existing gaps in international biological and chemical weapons conventions; and (4) proposes steps toward rectification of current and future oversight and governance.

Jan. 9, 2020

Directed Energy Weapons Are Real . . . And Disruptive

What exactly is a directed energy weapon? Are these weapons still science fiction, lab experiments, or are they real? How can they be used and how disruptive can they be? What are the challenges and next steps? This article will examine answers to these questions.

Jan. 9, 2020

The Worst Possible Day: U.S. Telecommunications and Huawei

As a global power, the United States must be able to sustain military forces and project power anywhere in the world, even in the face of resistance from a sophisticated adversary with the ability to infiltrate or disrupt telecommunications and other critical infrastructure within the United States, in space, under the ocean, and in other regions of the world. Policy must consider the worst possible day, not the routine day.

Jan. 9, 2020

Cyber Physical Systems: The Coming Singularity

At this moment, a subtle but fundamental technological shift is occurring that is uniting our digital and physical worlds at the deepest architectural and operational levels. This technological shift will alter the global business, government, military and intelligence ecosystems. It is nothing less than a technological singularity and this technology will forever change our world—it is called Cyber Physical Systems (CPS).

Feb. 26, 2019

The New Opium War: A National Emergency

Sadly, the current opioid crisis is reminiscent of past periods of addiction and overdose deaths in the United States. The crisis today, however, is on a much larger scale owing to how the American appetite for opioids has changed the nature of the drug trade in North America, from the consumption of marijuana and cocaine to that of heroin and fentanyl, and that Mexican transnational criminal organizations have been quick to capitalize on this demand signal at the expense of record levels of drug-related violence and homicides in Mexico. The opioid epidemic is now a health, security, social, economic welfare, and national security crisis. The public, private, and civic sectors must take a more active role in raising awareness of drug abuse and addiction to reduce the demand for opioids, particularly since this opioid epidemic does not discriminate against gender, race, age, economic status, or location. As a transnational crisis, international cooperation to address the supply of illicit opioids is also essential. A whole-of-society approach is required to triumph in the new opium war and overcome this latest opioid epidemic in North America.