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".