Game Changers: Disruptive Technology and U.S. Defense Strategy

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We've highlighted a few of the hot topics to watch out for below. Also known as additive manufacturing, this decades-old technology is getting cheaper and easier by the minute, and that's a big deal:. It could also allow new approaches to tactical adaptation of equipment, as already seen in Afghanistan where the Rapid Equipping Force has deployed mobile labs to make improvements to everything from flashlights to power attachments for ground penetrating radar. To realize their full game-changing potential, militaries may need to use more contentious concepts of operation including fully autonomous ISR or even combat missions.

These are the weapons of the future. In a few years, we won't just be blasting bullets, bombs and fire at each other. We'll be shooting lasers:. For example, high-power microwaves and electromagnetic pulses would provide the ability to destroy electronic systems within a given area, whereas high-energy lasers would provide stealthy, highly accurate weapons that have no flight time, can engage more targets than traditional munitions and possess almost limitless magazines.

We keep hearing what a threat cyberattacks are to the country. Soon, we may have to learn firsthand:. For warfighters, this could create game-changing alterations to current concepts of persistent ISR and enable large-scale management of autonomous systems. Technologies to do so are increasingly available, and there are some indications that other nations are willing to run programs that the United States is not.

While these technologies may not yet be available, they are no longer in the realm of science fiction.

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The A. Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag. Click here to view original GIF. Share This Story. Jezebel The Slot. It is the guessing as to the probable meaning and especially the consequences of trends that is the real challenge. Contemporary analyses of these emerging technologies often expose the tenuous links or disconnections among the scientific and technical realities and mainstream scholarship on national and international security, especially with regard to the potential to have impact on strategy and policy.

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The research underway is advancing the strategic understanding of these game-changing technologies and the development of meaningful and testable metrics and models to help reduce that surprise. Next, the paper places itself in the context of previous work on disruptive, emerging, and advanced technologies and conflict, including the idea of revolutions in military affairs. That is followed by a discussion of Russian technology development, including leveraging historical experience from the Cold War and institutional politics.

This is critically important in order to avoid the trap of technological determinism, i. An analysis of the national security implications of select emerging technologies—additive manufacturing aka 3D printing , machine learning and artificial intelligence, advanced stealth via metamaterials, hypersonics, and directed energy weapons—follows. A brief discussion of trends in U. In order to understand the changing paradigms for national security in the 21 st Century, it is crucial that policymakers have an awareness of the factors driving new and emerging capabilities; possess the ability to analyze the changing nature of technological progress and assess potential impacts on the nature of conflict; and understand the relationships among cutting-edge science, advanced technology, other trends, and national security.

Dominance in both conventional and sophisticated military operations has been enabled in the United States by a technological advantage in precision, speed, stealth, and tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance as compared to adversaries. Equally innovative and more revolutionary capabilities will be required in order to ensure dominance and security in the 21 st Century—when adversaries span from peer competitor nation-states to disperse insurgencies and lone-wolf non-state actors.

As a result of evolving conditions, the U. The DSB report also concluded that the global environment in which the DoD operates had fundamentally changed, and that the DoD no longer leads most technology development. Globalization of technology has leveled the playing field internationally, and the U. Additionally, adversaries are increasing their ability to adopt and adapt technology more rapidly than the DoD. The changing global environment requires the DoD to carefully evaluate, shape its programs in response, and be willing to take risks.

Scientific and technological innovations have been the backbone of American economic, military, and political power since the advent of the industrial revolution. Advances in federally-sponsored technology made the United States and its armed forces the most technologically advanced in the world. What are the roles and significance of emerging technologies and how should the national security community respond to the promise and perils of emerging technologies?

How will these nascent scientific and technological developments impact local, regional, and international security, stability, and cooperation? What are the most likely sources of technological surprise with the largest threat capacity, and how can the national security community better identify them sooner? Emerging technologies present regional security challenges and may exacerbate or mitigate the geo-political, military, energy, and economic challenges in the future to a state or region and the potential impacts on U.

Deep strategic and practical understanding of the significance of emerging technology and its diffusion as well as extending thinking concerning how science, technology, and inter- and intra-national social relations interact to shape and facilitate management of the changing global security landscape is a pressing need for the 21 st Century. The authors readily acknowledge that there are additional factors beyond technology that play a role and may drive a changing, new strategic environment. These include, but are not limited to, demographics—smaller populations in some states, youth bulges, and increasingly aging populations in other states.

Outside of Russia, much of the discussion revolves around megacities and dense urban conflict, which is about people and environments not just structures. In terms of lethality, directed energy weapons are needed; we have to get away from solely relying on traditional explosives and heavy projectiles. New ways to generate, store, and convert power are needed, including at the individual level, such as through harvesting otherwise wasted energy of bootsteps striking the ground or other movements.

When the individual is directly connected to the internet or other enhancements are possible, what does that mean for the laws of war? People are likely to learn more quickly by computers hooked into the mind. Do we want to go to that? We may be forced to go to that. The use of augmented reality and man-machine interface portends questions of how such cutting-edge capabilities will affect balance of power and conflict. Communication of those new discoveries is occurring faster than ever, meaning that the unique ownership of a piece of new technology is no longer a sufficient position, if not impossible.

The information revolution and globalization themselves have been major drivers. It is widely regarded that recognition of the potential applications of a technology and a sense of purpose in exploiting it are far more important than simply having access to it today. Technological surprise has and will continue to take many forms. A plethora of new technologies are under development for peaceful means but may have unintended security consequences and will certainly require innovative countermeasures. For example, tremendous developments in biotechnology have occurred since the advent of recombinant DNA and tissue culture-based processes in the s.

If the potential for biotechnology to affect fundamental security and warfighting doctrines had been more clearly recognized twenty years ago, the situation today could be very different. Defense against biological weapons—from both states and non-state actors—currently presents a threat that is difficult to predict and for which traditional solutions are increasingly less effective and offers an area for strategic foresight to be valuable. The dual use conundrum applies to all modern technologies. Because of the other characteristics of the changing strategic environment, it is of greater concern.

Historically, dual use previously referred to technologies that could be meaningfully used by both the civilian and military sectors. In light of an ever-changing security environment in which the potential for technologies to be misused by both state and non-state actors has become increasingly prevalent, however, a new conceptualization of dual use, in which the same technologies can be used legitimately for human betterment and misused for nefarious purposes, such as terrorism, has emerged.

Within international security, there is a rich literature exploring the intersection of science, technology, and understanding the outcomes of armed conflict. It is a critical variable in international security: military outcomes and technological advances are intricately tied. The offset strategy is a central concept applied to national security involving technological capabilities.

Offset strategies have used technical innovation to counter the strength of adversaries and deter them. Three offset strategies since WWII are commonly cited. The first offset strategy used a nuclear-based deterrence strategy to offset Soviet land forces, proximity to Europe, and conventional superiority in Europe.

In order to counter and deter the Soviet adversary, the United States relied on massive retaliation and use of nuclear weapons. The first offset strategy was a success. The second offset began in the s. The second offset strategy invested in the development of stealth aircraft, precision guided munitions, and space-based reconnaissance and navigation capabilities. Second offset capabilities and U. The disruptive technology of the second offset has proliferated widely and adversaries specifically, near-peers have narrowed the technology gap.

In , the call for a third offset was put forward.

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To be disruptive, technologies do need not be radical or novel from an engineering or technical perspective. Using a combination of existing technologies in ways that are novel can result in a capability that is disruptive. Disruptive technology is distinctive because it upsets the established way of doing things. Disruptive technology causes shifts that change the world. Novel technologies are one of the principal means of surprising advisaries or competitors and of disrupting established ways of doing things.

It is, however, important to recognize that not all innovative, novel, new, or emerging technologies or innovative uses of technology are disruptive. Some new technologies and capabilities stay in the laboratory, many start-ups fail when taking the technology to market, and plenty of new and innovative technologies or uses of technology never disseminate. When examining a potentially disruptive technology, the scale of dissemination is a useful factor in determining whether a technology is truly disruptive.

Adoption is one critical measure of a technology becoming a disruptive technology. If a technology is not adopted, then it cannot be employed. Understanding what technologies are adopted and then disseminated widely is key to determining which technologies will earn disruptive status. Based on the discussion and sources above, for the purposes of this paper, disruptive technology is defined as: an innovative technology or use of technology that triggers unexpected effects and also upsets the established way of doing things.

As discussed above, not all scholars agree on the criteria for disruptive technology. What is important to garner from this definition is that disruptive technology has a wide and profound impact on the established ways of doing things.

52. Potential Game Changers

By its very nature, global stability can be challenged by technology that disrupts the established governance system. New and unpredicted technologies are emerging at an unprecedented pace around the world. Communication of those new discoveries is occurring faster than ever, meaning that the unique ownership of a new technology is no longer a sufficient position, if not impossible. In the 21 st Century, both nation-states and non-state actors will have access to new and potentially devastating dual-use technology. Anticipating the types of threats that may emerge as science and technology advance, the potential consequences of those threats, the probability that new and more disperse types of enemies will obtain or pursue them, and how they will impact the future of armed conflict is necessary in preparing for the future security of the nation.

The potential synergies among the emerging technologies not only suggest tremendous potential for advancement in technology for military applications but also raise new concerns. With Russia, one needs to consider not only advances in high technology for traditional military applications but also innovations and uses below the level of declared war, i.

Leveraging all aspects of national power, political warfare spans military, diplomatic, information, and economic arenas and includes both covert and overt activities. Additionally, while the calculus for use in a traditional state-on-state military conflict may not have changed substantially, 19 Russia and its allies are using chemical agents in non-traditional ways. The long-standing chemical weapons taboo has been shattered, repeatedly. Understanding Russian approaches to technology development would not be complete without acknowledging the role that dezinformatsiya, disinformation, and maskirovka, military deception, play in interactions with external actors.

Personal leadership, geopolitics, operational context, and evolution of technology all influence the conduct of disinformation campaigns. There are aspects of Russian strategic culture that have remained consistent from the early origins of the Russian state, throughout the Tsarist and Soviet periods.

This is a consequence both of the remnants of Soviet government and culture that color, if not dominate, the Russian Federation today and the sheer volume of literature on the subject produced by military and academic scholars during the decades-long arms race. It will begin with a brief overview of scholarship about the Soviet process of innovation and then summarize the work of contemporary scholars attempting to make sense of the current Russian system of innovation.

Scholarship regarding military and technological innovation within the Soviet Union provides an insight into the evolution of Western opinions toward Russia. Early writers center their theories about Soviet innovation squarely in the predominant theoretical model of the time: Realism. These authors tend to approach their subject with a particular conceit; they believe that the arms race between the United States and Soviet Union stemmed from a sense of competition between the two states and wrote dozens of articles illustrating how this model shaped the politics of the Cold War and how it should shape relations between the two countries in the future.

Much of the early literature summarizing Russian technological innovation is grounded in the decades-long arms race of the Cold War. Although the specific details of the cases addressed in these studies may appear superficially outdated, many of these frameworks are useful to the discussion of the current state of innovation in Russia because they provide benchmarks by which one can compare aspects of contemporary Soviet efforts to innovate. Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara utilizes a similar frame of reference in a much later article as he attempts to provide guidance on how the United States should address and improve relations with Russia and China in a post-Cold War world.

While the West conceived of this bombing as a means of forcing the Serbs to stop the ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo, Russia saw the bombing as a flagrant violation of the Founding Act. The violation, in combination with the ineffectiveness of the Serbs military equipment against NATO forces drove the Russian government to improve its conventional weapons so that the country could defend itself against potential NATO attacks with something other than nuclear weapons.

Beginning in the s, however, a different program of research began to emerge on this subject. The differences between American and Soviet military innovation can be attributed to a series of cultural variables rather than strictly to military competition. Notable scholar Dima Adamsky attributes the pattern of Soviet innovation following American innovation to the structure of the Soviet military itself.

Post-Cold War military writings about the RMA include aspects of information technology as well as precision-guided weapon systems and their potential impact on war. A analysis of these publications in Russian military journals revealed that there is some disagreement as to how future war will be waged, but a common theme seems to be an emphasis on the impact of technology on Command and Control as well as discussion of indirect methods of war.

Scholarship about contemporary Russian innovation draws heavily on existing commentary on innovation in the Soviet Union. Radosevic argues that Russia is currently in the midst of an innovation crisis due to its desire to both restructure and preserve what remains of the Soviet innovation infrastructure.

While understandable, there are two major problems with continuing to employ this model in the future. As such, many scholars find it impossible to begin to understand the Russian government of today without accounting for its past. Terekhov has also written a great deal on the evolution of scientific research programs within the Russian Federation. According to Paul Nitze, asymmetries favorable to the Soviet Union in civil defense and industrial dispersion impacted their calculations regarding various warfighting strategies.

Russian strategists actively acknowledge these differences and deem them necessary for strategic success. Regardless of Russian intentions, the difference in assumptions and values in Russian strategic culture and those shaping strategic culture in the West will impact European security. Although the authors and subjects mentioned above are diverse, each fills an important role within the literature at large.

It is impossible to synthesize such a large and varied literature without omitting important voices on the subject; the authors and reports included above, however, represent the most widely cited papers in this field. As such, the views and arguments can be understood to represent a far larger body of work in each area. One hallmark of this model of development is the large gap that exists between the RAS research institutes and the university system.

This is problematic both because of the increasing need for competent young scientists to carry on the research of the aging scientific community and because it may prevent many of the mechanisms by which the Russian government hopes to stimulate economic growth in the scientific community from being sufficiently successful in the future. Legislation enacted in the last decade provides evidence that some of the traditional government structures responsible for inciting innovation are beginning to be reformed, however.

After ten years, government incentives are lessened considerably in an attempt to ensure that startup corporations in these regions are able to function as competitive entities. The law also requires all member corporations—including multinational corporations MNCs —to submit to the same vetting process for residency in the SEZ and to apply for any grants made available to residents of the city. MNCs could thus be denied participation in the SEZ if their proposed projects fall outside the goals of the technopark.

A second component of successful SEZs was incorporated into Russian law in January when the Russian government passed the Federal Law On Science, which allows research institutes and universities to share material resources, workforce, and facilities free of charge. These collaborations allow universities and research institutes to become more responsive to the needs of the market, one of the biggest problems that the Soviet innovation system faced prior to its dissolution.

Increased collaboration between the research institutes and universities is meant to address this problem by providing the research institutes an arm that targets consumer needs specifically. Such changes are essential if Russia is to stimulate innovation in its economy and keep pace with other nations who it views as its largest competitors. Even as these programs seek to stimulate the economy, however, the obvious continued reliance on the government as the driver of innovation harkens back to the Soviet apparatus. While the Soviet Union was long regarded as one of the leading countries in the number of highly educated individuals within its population—Russia still retains one of the best-educated populations in the world according to OECD data—strict divisions between the government, military, universities, and research institutes have led to a smaller number of science and engineering graduates over the years.

As such, the quality of the work being released by these entities is falling, but it also calls into question their future sustainability. Both of these considerations could prove disastrous for the SEZs slated for development in the country, as the reputation of the corporations participating in these startups is a key measure of quality.

Additive manufacturing AM or 3D printing technology is a rising industry with applications that traverse all sectors of the economy. A variety of users can use 3D printing commercially or recreationally to make objects in plastic and metal, thus it has caused concern among the security community regarding its potential dual-use capability by states or non-state actors. Despite the concern, current AM capabilities give little cause for alarm. What AM possesses in flexibility, it lacks in depth; AM has limitations in size, material strength, and cost of objects compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

The United States and international community should work together to continually examine AM capabilities in the near term and begin to update export control mechanisms, re-examine signatures of proliferation for the intelligence community, and promote collaborative efforts between the AM technical community and the public sector to alert of disruptive ability of the technology. The onset of what some have called the fourth industrial revolution, 56,57 is marked by technologies that integrate the digital age third industrial revolution, following steam power and electrification into society and even the human body.

Technologies in the fourth industrial revolution include: artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, advanced robotics, the Internet of Things, and advanced manufacturing capabilities, especially additive manufacturing. In the post-digital age, unprecedented manufacturing techniques are seen as having the potential to alter the current manufacturing paradigm and supply chains.

Traditionally, engineers have designed and created products according to subtractive manufacturing techniques, i. Economies worldwide have perfected these techniques to optimize the speed and cost of the production of goods. Recent improvements in additive manufacturing, i. The private sector has capitalized on its use in creating quick prototypes of products, which has given rise to a function-based synonym for 3D printing, rapid prototyping. A 3D printing machine will add layer-by-layer material of some plastic, resin, or metal. Common methods to produce these objects include extrusion unwinding a wire-shaped feed material , stereolithography shining light on surface to bond molecules of a liquid polymer together , laser sintering or melting focusing a laser on metal powder to bond molecules and successively adding powder layers on top.

These methods require a computer-aided design CAD file as an input; a computer program or the printer itself will deconstruct the image into many cross-sectional layers to be used as steps for the printer. What are the current capabilities of 3D printers? For commercial 3D printers, they spread the gamut of sizes and prices.

The cost ranges from several hundred to a few thousand dollars, and the feed filament costs approximately twenty dollars per kilogram. A plethora of websites contains ready-to-print stereolithography STL files, 62,63,64 which feed into most 3D printers or allow conversion to a similar format. Industrial 3D printers, as expected, come with higher costs yet more robust capabilities.

The majority owners of higher-tech 3D printers include Department of Energy national laboratories, defense contractors, and large companies such as General Electric and Hewlett Packard. The end uses for many commercial and industrial applications include rapid prototyping of objects and making objects that are traditionally difficult to manufacture.


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Should it be timely and cost-effective, it has the potential to replace staple manufacturing processes such as casting, molding, and forming. Because each layer is added successively with AM as opposed to relying on the hardening or shaping of feed material, orientations that are traditionally challenging to manufacture become either achievable, more efficient, or both.


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  8. Current 3D printing technology lacks time efficiency on a large scale, therefore the technology is most applicable to rapid prototyping. The Shelby Cobra took six weeks to go from the start of printing to drivable car; 68 most weapons and single-use systems will have a higher threshold for performance. The effort to produce a single sample object requires less effort in machining.

    Furthermore, even if an actor or organization does not possess the technology, 3D print shops and services, although not ubiquitous, are available. Additive manufacturing has several implications for U. First, 3D printing technology is of dual-use in nature. It can be utilized benevolently to make products such as prosthetics, implants, and car parts, but it can also be used to make potentially harmful objects.

    For example, an organization called Defense Distributed circulated a design file for a handgun called the Liberator. State Department stating its violation of several constitutional amendments. The U. Because 3D printers maintain the flexibility to print objects of virtually any shape, this new technology requires exploration in its ability and likelihood to impact conflict. The threat of a rogue state or non-state actor obtaining WMD relies on their ability to secure sensitive chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material CBRN and to obtain the necessary components.

    It is hypothesized that AM could disrupt traditional acquisition means of the materials needed to create a WMD. Rather than purchasing the required technology, an actor could print the pieces themselves. An actor must gain knowledge to produce the pieces, but the knowledge to produce pieces via 3D printing is lower than that using traditional manufacturing methods.

    Lockheed Martin and other corporations have also demonstrated that techniques such as laser sintering and melting allow production of higher-strength metals. The files are not so easily detectable, and the end use of the eventual 3D-printed object can be unclear. Evidently, weapons of mass destruction pose a threat to U. In addition to the relative ease in fabricating machined parts, widespread use of AM could make it difficult to design counter-WMD strategies and further complicate efforts to detect, monitor, and prevent proliferation.

    This phenomenon could increase the security dilemma for the United States; the probability of successful detection of a covert WMD program decreases and the transparency of weapons manufacturing decreases. Current thinking on the evolution of additive manufacturing also raises two potential long-term impacts on U. Increases in energy efficiency maintain positive economic and environmental impacts on the United States; citizens save money and pollution is reduced.

    Additive manufacturing, as compared to subtractive manufacturing, produces little waste due to the nature of the technology. Another potential consequence of international implementation of the technology is that it could reduce the dominance of the United States manufacturing sector. The United States relies on protecting its infrastructure to maintain economic security in international markets.

    Both of these claims are of little significance currently as AM has not grown to the scale of traditional manufacturing and thus will not be examined here.

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    Little evidence proves that these are immediate concerns, but the actualization of these speculations could impact long-term U. A prominent work detailing the threat of additive manufacturing to the spread of nuclear weapons specifically is a piece by Kroenig and Volpe, 77 in which the authors assert that 3D printing enables WMD-proliferation because it requires little technical knowledge and potential facilities that could produce WMD-sensitive parts can be widespread and impossible to detect.

    Although they offer logical conclusions, they simplify the technology without further examining it and how it would be realistically implemented by a WMD-seeking actor and the international regimes that could re-analyze proliferation threats with respect to AM technology. They fail to answer the question of how, i. Another gap in the existing literature is more speculative and draws on comparison to successfully disruptive technologies such as the Internet and personal computers.

    Experts have created analogies between these technologies and additive manufacturing, but they fail to dive past the surface level. They believe that the individual nature of these technologies warranted its success, and therefore additive manufacturing will follow a similar trajectory to that of personal computers. They assume advancements in AM are inevitable and exponential, hence disruptive over a short period.

    Many articles cite the attention and investment AM has received over recent years, with AM innovation centers surfacing in the United States, Europe, and Asia, as the main indicator of its potential. Other sources have focused on the application of additive manufacturing in the military industrial complex 82 and the spread of 3D-printed traditional munitions. Both fail to accurately connect these changes to their potential impacts on weapons of mass destruction.

    There lacks an understanding of the detailed implementation should a state or actor pursue a WMD through these means and which technologies are most sensitive should an actor pursue an AM capability. What facilities should military forces seek and target? How can the international community limit these capabilities through export control?

    What are indicators of proliferation through this technology? Current research fails to acknowledge or discredit the role of additive manufacturing as it relates to WMD acquisition by rogue states and non-state actors. Although concessions exist that the technology is not up to par to be viewed as immediately threatening, scholars tend to shortcut to the end point where AM is the ideal disruptive technology due to ideal characteristics that it has yet to currently achieve. A technical breakdown of the technologies is necessary to examine the practical use of the technology to analyze the true threat to U.

    The nuclear proliferation threat relies on two main components of the nuclear fuel cycle, enrichment, and reprocessing capabilities. Because highly-enriched uranium can only be produced with enrichment technology and weapons-usable plutonium can only be produced with reprocessing capabilities, these are the technologies of concern for WMD proliferation. Of these two sensitive stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, one must be implemented for the successful acquisition of a nuclear bomb.

    The exception to that is the case where a fabricated nuclear bomb is stolen, however this risk is not heightened with the advent of advanced manufacturing technologies. Enrichment capabilities are used to increase the fissile content of natural or low-enriched uranium to weapons-grade uranium. The most current case of uranium enrichment for WMD-seeking purposes is Iran.

    Based on publicly available data, Iran reportedly had upwards of 19, gas centrifuges of the IR-1 to IR-8 models. The models all have similar dimensional orders in terms of eights and diameters, no more than 0. Components that require the smallest resolution in a gas centrifuge, e. A major problem with centrifuges is that they require highly corrosive-resistant materials. Uranium hexafluoride, the form of the uranium in the centrifuge, is highly corrosive to most metals. Maraging steel or strong aluminum alloys is required for rotating components to avoid corrosion; neither of these materials are used extensively outside sophisticated laboratories.

    If an NSG country wanted to disregard the agreement, it could do so without any consideration or use of AM technology. In addition to these technical limitations, logistical limitations also exist. The theoretical time required to additively manufacture, assemble, and arrange hundreds or thousands of centrifuges would render it impractical. AM have solely been proven effective, disregarding economics, for small-scale production or prototyping. Khan network. Such a facility could likely be detected through surveillance methods, as was the case with the Natanz facility in Iran.

    Reprocessing capabilities, on the other hand, were developed to chemically separate uranium from plutonium in spent nuclear fuel. Reprocessing technology has been the preferred route for several proliferating countries, including the ostensibly-proliferated countries of India, Pakistan, and Israel. The main ingredient in nuclear reprocessing is already-used nuclear fuel.

    Many processes exist to separate plutonium, but the most widely used is the Purex plutonium uranium extraction process. Purex is a solvent extraction method that uses nitric acid to separate plutonium and uranium by their oxidation states. Nuclear fuel to be reprocessed will be at high levels of radioactivity, therefore advanced hot cells are a necessary technology. Criticality safety experts are needs to ensure subcritical, and therefore nonexplosive, results of the process. Radiation shielding materials, such as concrete, are also required to limit dose to workers at the facility.

    These materials and expertise are the main barriers to constructing a reprocessing plant with enough throughput to fabricate a plutonium weapon. Slabs of concrete and the complicated, large components for hot cells needed to handle nuclear fuel are not feasible hurdles for AM to surmount. Traditional manufacturing methods have the advantage in this regard; AM would not be worth the financial and knowledge investment to develop a reprocessing facility. This excludes the assumption that an actor has access to a significant quantity of fissile material and therefore must bypass current nonproliferation efforts.

    Table 1 shows the risk associated with each sensitive nuclear technology and summarizes the previous few paragraphs into a qualitative chart. It notes that AM adds no risk in obtaining radiological or nuclear material itself. Most technologies fall under the low risk category due to handling of toxic gases or the need to constrain materials in vacuum. The simplest pieces of equipment end caps, casing, etc.

    The relative utility of making these pieces with AM has the potential to be marginal, but the flexibility of the machine to make these pieces can increase in the future with suggested improvements in material properties. One could easily produce casing and end caps for centrifuges, as they fit within size constraints, should advance metal AM techniques like laser sintering become commercially available and cost effective. The Chemical Weapons Convention identifies three main classes, called Schedules, of controlled substances. Chemical weapons are traditionally difficult to produce due to highly toxic and corrosive chemicals, and their sophistication can vary as evidence of production by the United States, the former Soviet Union, and Iraq.

    Sulfur mustard production requires large amounts to be militarily effective. Even if produced in a small quantity, it is difficult to store and transport. It also possesses a relatively low casualty rate, and medical care has developed to ensure increased recovery rates. Its production historically involves ethylene oxide and hydrogen sulfide, 91 both of which are gases at room temperature and therefore difficult to fathom production with AM. The intermediary product between these two chemicals and sulfur mustard is thiodiglycol, which is a common liquid solvent used in ballpoint pen ink and other plastics.

    It is of interest to private corporations, including Hewlett Packard, who cited it as a functional material in its patent for 3D printing technology in Without its direct application, exploration of similar chemicals with 3D printing could generate publicly or commercially available knowledge with utilizing it. Therefore, thiodiglycol is a medium risk in the long term, indicated in Table 2. Thiodiglycol requires hydrogen sulfide to produce the sulfur mustard, therefore proliferators need additional anti-corrosive equipment not aided with the use of 3D printing.

    The tabun nerve agent poses a similar challenge as the required hydrogen cyanide reagent is necessary. The AM community would need to experiment more with corrosive reactions on mostly metal materials to ensure advantages over steel pipes and containers. Therefore, materials associated with nerve agent production pose a minimal threat. Table 2 shows the relatively small threat that chemical weapons alone pose.

    It is therefore possible that AM could be used to create equipment originally intended for a chemical plant that is eventually converted to a chemical weapons facility. An article has proposed effects of current AM technology on the chemical industry to include surgical preparation and drug delivery devices, 96 although both are only projected and have not been demonstrated outside of an experimental setting. Many 3D printing applications for chemical application cross into the biomedical and biotechnology arena.

    Biological weapons have overlaps with the production of chemical weapons with a few exceptions. One hypothetically needs to produce a significantly smaller amount of harmful biological material to create the same number of casualties as a chemical weapon. They typically fall into two categories, microbial pathogens or toxins. Most research requires technologically sophisticated facilities capable of examining living organisms at the cell level.

    Because of this fact, additive manufacturing adds little to a direct threat from biological weapons. Microbial pathogens such as anthrax, brucellosis, and tularemia, must grow in a controlled environment. Producers of these weapons must ensure sufficient protection of the workers to not infect their own population. Bioprinters are typically designed to work with biocompatible material to make pieces to be inserted in or on the human body. Additive manufacturing adds little to the picture if a sophisticated facility with highly trained experts is required to understand the phenomena itself let alone the fabrication of a weapon.

    Building up to a larger set of facilities to acquire an operational capability is not facilitated with additive manufacturing. Openly-published literature about bioprinting is important. Greater transparency in the capability reduces the security dilemma of biological research. Research on development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria does not intersect with advances in additive manufacturing.

    Current methods to grow biological weapons material with microorganisms involves a seed culture that is fermented. Although advances could improve on growth of microorganism communities, they are not a substitute for the organic material itself. Fermenters for organic culture growth, typically called bioreactors, are complicated machines that are made of stainless steel. Smaller sizes have potential to be manufactured with AM, yet supplemental pieces will also be required. This information on AM threats to biological weapons is included with the chemical weapons in Table 2.

    Acquiring the 3D printer capable of missile component production would be difficult. It can be assumed that a missile needs to be manufactured out of high-strength, versatile metals. Even the most advanced equipment has trouble creating these ideal metals. Porosity remains an issue for these researchers as they are still trying to understand the science of metal vapor in the process. The scale of their implementation is small, at the millimeter level. The only institutions capable this far of producing some objects for advanced technological systems are the large American corporations.

    As mentioned earlier, Raytheon 3D printed a missile, but printing spare parts for the satellites is still on the horizon. SpaceX has recently 3D printed a full SuperDraco rocket engine through laser sintering.

    Technological Innovation and National Security - Foreign Policy Research Institute

    However, the material used was a superalloy of Inconel, which is several times more expensive than stainless steel. Obtaining access for strong materials necessary for a well-designed weapon remains a hurdle, but one could claim that a state or sub-state actor only needs a crude weapon to successfully set off a WMD. It will still need to invest in an additive manufacturing system to meet that goal. Because additive manufacturing is a technology in its early stages of development, it is unlikely that a proliferator will want to pursue two challenging technologies of which they lack expertise if a cheaper alternative to the same or superior to what they could produce technology is available.

    That increases the uncertainty of success as well as the time to acquire the technology. Some ballistic missiles even use solid fuel, but it is not likely that a proliferator would attempt to make fuel with a 3D printer even if the materials were available because solid fuel adds more technical and practical knowledge to understand how to manage it. Liquid fuel is almost always preferred, and 3D printing has no advantage with liquids.

    Some alarmists of the threat of additive manufacturing continue to understate the importance of tacit knowledge in AM, often conceding that some of it is necessary but then assuming that once a piece is finished, it is ready to be used.

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    It is important to note that 3D-printed objects require a fair amount of post-processing. Casting and molding the piece may be irrelevant, but objects are rough coming off of a 3D printer. A delivery system such as a missile or aircraft needs to be finished properly for aerodynamic considerations. Grinding, sanding, and polishing would be skills required to bring the object to its intended use. Expertise in that area is still being developed.

    This is not to say that finishing a 3D printed object requires a significant amount of effort, but it is important for sensitive weapons systems. Welding is another skill that is necessary for AM applications. If a nation wanted to 3D-print a missile, they are most likely going to have to weld materials together. It is unlikely a nation to indigenously manufacture a 3D printer of that quality or to buy it from the United States. Nuclear weapons have an extensive history of proliferation through spread of tacit knowledge as well as technology. The AQ Khan network remains the most infamous nuclear proliferation networks, which contributed to the nuclear weapons acquisition of North Korea.

    The adoption of 3D printing technology is not simply a matter of detailing scientific or engineering advances to a new process. A prominent example includes safety precautions in order to prevent harm to operators; it is challenging to know problems without having operated the equipment before. Safety concerns are of little importance to 3D printers, but economic considerations are important to ensure functionality of a machine with little technical support for proliferators.

    Communal tacit knowledge by a small group or larger scientific community may not transfer well to a proliferator that can obtain a sophisticated 3D printer. Tacit knowledge highlights the actualization of weapons-usable material after technological acquisition. Equating the two is an invalid assumption.

    Spread of sensitive nuclear technologies is not possible with the technology in the near future. Delivery systems are more worrisome, yet their actualization probability remains low. Additive manufacturing overall poses a miniscule threat of WMD acquisition. Delivery systems remain the most prevalent opportunity for proliferators to use AM; small yet complex objects like casing or bodies of these systems are ideal candidates for AM pieces.

    It is important as well to view weapons acquisition with AM through the lens of relative gains compared to traditional manufacturing methods or other means of technological acquisition; proliferators could look to AM or other similar technologies as covert, innovative, and cost-effective ways to increase their power and leverage. While additive manufacturing is not on the brink of threatening international stability, it would be wise to monitor its progress in the near future.

    Although 3D-printed missiles or aircraft capable of delivering WMD may not be used next year, the industry is growing rapidly. Currently, there is not a strong need to strictly limit the technology, but with more advances in sensitive areas, AM should be viewed as a dual-use technology. Although detection will be challenging, export controls will need to be enacted to ensure proper end use of the technology.

    Due to the potential transferability of files, cybersecurity should be strengthened of organizations, such as defense contractors, that may use this technology for military applications. Understanding of computer design programs is more widespread, and it would be easier for a relatively unskilled actor to print the 3D file.

    It would also be wise to limit the domestic use of AM for sensitive technologies or to split into multiple files. Saving a 3D file for a centrifuge, for example, is too risky to maintain on a single file. Even if an actor could not 3D print the piece, insight can be gained from the file itself, e. It is possible to entertain the idea of making some of the manufacturing techniques confidential so as the spread of this eventual dual-use technology is curtailed. This action could also aid the U. An undesired implication of AM is that decreasing transparency of production can potentially worsen the security dilemma.

    If states do not have a clear picture of what types of materials different states are using to build different types of equipment, it makes it harder to discern whether the produced equipment is inherently defensive or offensive in nature. While this most likely will not be a concern at first since AM is primarily focused on repairs and limited amounts of small munitions, this could become worse as the ability of AM expands to more offensive weapons and military systems.

    Further research could be pursued to identify how this decrease in transparency could affect the security dilemma. Even though the material inputs are slightly more standardized for 3D printed parts, there are still some specialized materials that must go into the production of weapons systems. Identifying those materials and how they can be tracked should be a priority in the context of understanding the implications of additive manufacturing on U.

    Machine learning leverages large computational power to quickly analyze large amounts of data to produce useful information. While the theory and approaches are decades old, only in more recent years has sufficient computer power become available to make it useful to solve large and complex problems. In the ensuing year, the algorithms were updated, and more computational power was added; Deep Blue won the series that came down to the final match.

    The field of machine learning has matured in parallel to increased computation capabilities. Such systems have proven able to solve very complex problems at speeds orders of magnitude faster than humans. The effective use of machine learning in a military context is not science fiction.

    The Swedish defense department used machine learning to analyze submarine incursions into its territorial waters in Given the limited data set and the varying reliability of reports, their goals were modest but useful for predicting future events:. Prediction rules with a probability and an accuracy such as these should be very useful if they can be approached in practice.

    Contrast this to the earlier application of selecting a chess move, especially near the end of the game when few pieces remain. Further, the evaluation criteria win by checkmate while avoiding being checkmated first are clear and constant. In security applications, machine learning will have to process incomplete information of various and unknown accuracy and validity.

    Its predictions of behavior will not be deterministic, and even the desired outcomes may sometimes be in doubt. The underlying models may be limited or unknown. This is a very different problem, and expectations must be tempered accordingly.



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