- Armament and disarmament
- Conflict and peace
- Peace and development
Technology is a fundamental agent of social change, offering new possibilities to produce, store and spread knowledge. This is particularly clear in the military realm. Major shifts in military history have often followed groundbreaking developments in the history of science and technology. If not initially the result of military research and development, new technologies often find military applications, which, in some cases, has disruptive effects on the conduct of warfare. These can be positive and negative effects: progress in military technology has improved the possibility of precaution in the mobilization and application of force, but it has also provided more powerful capabilities of harm and destruction.
Current innovations in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous systems, internet of things, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, material science and quantum computing are expected to bring social transformations of an unprecedented scale. For the World Economic Forum, they form no less than the foundation of a ‘fourth industrial revolution.’ How these technologies may be used in, and transform, the military and security realms is not yet fully understood and needs further scrutiny. The capabilities they could provide may directly or indirectly affect the preconditions for peace, the nature of conflicts and how insecurity is perceived and managed, by people and states. Monitoring their development is therefore instrumental to understanding the future of warfare and global security.