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Nuclear and New Technologies

The ELN’s core mission is to reduce existential nuclear risk. New and emerging technologies present a complexity challenge for nuclear decision making – especially in crisis – that is not only unprecedented and quantitatively different from anything that has gone before, but that is also qualitatively different.

At the heart of that qualitative difference is complexity. The complexity in and of itself is a risk, independent of the precise mix of technologies that might be impacting any given crisis. To mitigate the risks, the ELN is putting to the test through an open-ended, multi-year, multi-partner programme that has four strands:

Strand 1 is a baselining exercise to examine what the open source literature in English, Russian and, in due course, Chinese has to offer on this complexity problem. We are conducting this exercise with Brad Roberts and his team at Lawrence Livermore, Professor Andrew Futter at the University and Vladimir Kozin at MGIMO’s Center for Pol-Mil Studies.

Strand 2 brings experienced nuclear practitioners, including ELN network members, together iteratively with nuke-new tech scenarios based on big data analysis of emerging technologies. We are partnering with The Oracle Partnership, a strategic foresight and AI company. The aim is to generate practical insights for current nuclear decision makers.

Strand 3 is to look at methodologies for nuclear decision making that could help deal with complexity. We are partnering with the Council of Strategic Risks (Christine Parthemore) and several very interesting individuals at, for example, Kings College London, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks at Cambridge University and the Alan Turing Institute.

Strand 4 is looking at mitigations, including possible “arms control”. We are partnering primarily with the Arms Control Association and are adding a number of Russian institutions and individuals. We’re getting this strand and the interplay with the other three strands underway in a workshop for the German Foreign Ministry next month under the umbrella of their Capturing Technology programme.



For more information on the Nuclear and New Technologies project, please contact Project Lead Katarzyna Kubiak