Emerging Technologies and the Future of Conflict
June 29-30 & July 1 (9.00 am - 11.00 am)
- 6 hour course by Arthur Holland (Bard College - IBEI) at the Barcelona Summer School in Global Politics, Development and Security
The term “game-changing technology” is a popular refrain in the realm of international security. We are often quick to declare that a particular emerging technology will fundamentally transform the character of conflict and the global balance of power forever. In defense circles, much money and effort go into attempting to lead, or stave off, such revolutions. But there is always a very real danger of overestimating or mischaracterizing the impact of such technologies—of investing in, or against a revolution that never materializes; or of failing to recognize a new technology’s transformative potential before it’s too late to develop an appropriate strategic or normative response. But how do you forecast an emerging technology’s actual, rather than imagined, implications for international security? And how do we effectively communicate these conclusions to technologically-unversed decisionmakers so that they can craft a suitable response? Built around three real-life case studies of "transformative" emerging technologies—autonomous unmanned systems (drones), directed energy, and social media—this course will challenge students to develop an analytical framework for evaluating the true impact of any emerging technology on conflict, as well as communicate this work effectively with a policy audience. The class does not assume any prior direct experience in conflict technology research or technical expertise.