Research on Emerging Technologies, Order and Stability (rETOS)
Emerging technologies are playing an increasingly important role in military contexts. Unmanned systems such as drones, automated and autonomous weapons or the military use of artificial intelligence fall into this category, as do nanotechnology, information technology ("cyber") or synthetic biology based on CRISPER/Cas technology. Some even argue that the latest missile technology ("hypersonics") are an emerging technology.
All these technologies all have the potential to massively impact war and military operations or even have a disruptive effect. They could render classic military means of power, such as tanks or fighter planes, obsolete, give some states considerable advantages and destabilize the international system. Many of these technologies can be used for both military and civil purposes ("dual-use"). This makes their technological development more dynamic and makes it difficult to assess their impact on military capabilities. Moreover, classical quantitative arms control can only be applied to these technologies to a very limited extent. On the other hand, some of these technologies could also facilitate arms control – provided that states are willing to do so.
A multitude of possible scenarios and open questions highlights the need for research, but also the need for information for policymakers and society. The research covers a wide variety of topics: from the influence of technology on international order and stability, to the chances of different arms control instruments to ensure order and stability, to the question of where the technologies themselves can contribute to order and stability. The research group rETOS - research on Emerging Technologies, Order and Stability - systematically addresses these issues. It bundles the existing expertise at PRIF and covers a broad spectrum of emerging technologies under a common roof.
An initial project investigates where artificial intelligence is used in the various fields of arms control and to what effect. The results will be published in spring 2021 in an anthology edited by Thomas Reinhold (computer scientist, Technical University of Darmstadt / PEASEC) and Niklas Schörnig (PRIF) with the working title "Armament, Arms Control and Artificial Intelligence. The impact of software, machine learning and artificial intelligence on armament and arms control".