New technologies & strategic stability

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Abstract

A variety of new technologies, ranging from broad enabling technologies to specific weapon systems, may threaten or enhance strategic stability. In this essay, I analyze a technology’s potential to significantly affect stability along three axes: the pace of advances in, and diffusion of, this technology; the technology’s implications for deterrence and defense; and the technology’s potential for direct impact on crisis decision-making. I apply this framework to examples including hypersonic weapons, antisatel-lite weapons, artificial intelligence, and persistent overhead monitoring. Formal arms control to contain dangers posed by some of these seems technically possible, though currently politically difficult to achieve. Others, particularly enabling technologies, resist arms control based on effective verification. The major powers will therefore instead have to find other ways to cope with these technologies and their implications. These options should include exchanges with potential adversaries so that pathways to nuclear escalation, and possible mitigating steps, can be identified and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-170
Number of pages21
JournalDaedalus
Volume149
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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