Humanity has progressed from one epoch to the next on the basis of technological innovations. Every new technology impacted the contours of the world politics of its time. We are living in the age of the fourth Industrial Revolution. A wide array of technologies are being developed and utilised that have the potential to change the outlook of the contemporary world. Emerging technology can be defined as the one that has at least these five characteristics: 1) Radical novelty, 2) Relatively fast growth, 3) Coherence, 4) Prominent impact, and 5) Uncertainty and ambiguity.Daniele Rotolo, Diana Hicks, and Ben R. Martin, “What Is an Emerging Technology?,” Research Policy 44, no. 10 (December 1, 2015): 1827–43, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2015.06.006 These emerging technologies are Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D Printing, 5G Technology, nanotechnology, and hypersonic machines. These technologies are bringing a revolution in military affairs (RMA), being utilised in detection radars, communication networks, reconnaissance, and weapons.
The impact of these emerging technologies is not only limited to conventional strategy but also affects the nuclear strategy of the states. The intersection of emerging and nuclear technologies has brought a revolution in strategic thought. This effect is evident in the form of the Stuxnet cyber-attack on Iran, which was discovered in 2010 as a digital weapon that damaged nuclear centrifuges and Iran’s Nantz facility. This non-kinetic attack reveals the vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons in front of the emerging technologies. A threat to the security of nuclear weapons is advertently or inadvertently a threat to nuclear stability.
The use of emerging technologies as a tool to offset nuclear stability is problematic. China’s recent hypersonic missile test is one example of this. The test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle could trigger dangerous new arms races on the global scale, laying the ground for the development of weapons that can utilise Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Weapons, and other emerging technologies.
The impact of emerging technologies on nuclear stability can also be analysed in the case study of India-Pakistan nuclear relations. Both states have been in a strategic rivalry since their inception. They have fought four wars with each other. Both states tested nuclear weapons in May 1998 and joined the nuclear club. Whereas India denies that its nuclear weapons are Pakistan specific, the position reiterated by Pakistan is that their nuclear weapons are to deter Indian conventional military superiority.Bhumitra Chakma, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine and Command and Control System: Dilemmas of Small Nuclear Forces in the Second Atomic Age,” Security Challenges 2, no. 2 (2006): 115–33.
Nuclear weapons have been successful in deterring a large-scale conflict between India and Pakistan: case in point the recent post-Pulwama skirmishes between both states.Mansoor Ahmed and Maimuna Ashraf, “The Pulwama-Balakot Crisis:,” CISS Insight Journal 7, no. 1 (July 15, 2019): 01–24. However, the use of emerging technologies for military purposes can damage the current strategic stability between India and Pakistan. Emerging technologies have the potential to attack command and control (C2C) structure, early warning radar systems, and nuclear facilities. A non-kinetic attack in form of cyber attack, or a conventional attack by AI-augmented weapons have the potential to damage nuclear capabilities of a state, thus rendering a retaliatory strike useless. Both India and Pakistan are investing in these emerging technologies for military purposes. In January 2021, India displayed its swarm drones in an offensive role. A combination of 75 drones is utilised which includes surveillance and armed drones. Pakistan has also developed its own UCAVs, specifically the one named Burraq. Both countries are also acquiring unmanned aerial vehicles from their friendly states. Similarly, both India and Pakistan have declared their cyber policies outlining offensive and defensive measures. Also, Artificial intelligence centres are being set up by both states. The rapid development of these policies presents a challenge to the security of nuclear weapons of both states and in turn to the strategic stability between India and Pakistan.
In the face of these new challenges, a new dialogical approach such as the one advanced in the recently published report ‘The Nuclear Responsibilities Toolkit: A Practical Guide for Thinking, Talking and Writing,’ co-authored by Sebastian Brixey-Williams, Alice Spilman, and Nicholas J. Wheeler, can help states and decision-makers to mitigate the potential threats posed by emerging technologies to nuclear strategic stability. The Nuclear Responsibilities Toolkit is founded on the ‘Nuclear Responsibilities Approach,’ a new way to think and talk about nuclear weapons that shifts the focus away from asking who is behaving ‘responsibly’ or ‘irresponsibly’ in the global nuclear order, and instead focuses on what a given stakeholder’s responsibilities in relation to nuclear weapons are, how are they implemented in specific policies and practices, and how other actors in the international system might feel about such responsibilities, policies, and practices. Crucially, the Nuclear Responsibilities Approach is predicated on the assumption that ‘any stakeholder with the capacity to influence nuclear weapons futures has responsibilities around nuclear weapons and is therefore important to engage.’
The Nuclear Responsibilities Toolkit engenders a three-stage dialogical process designed to support officials, non-governmental experts, and other key stakeholders to better understand their own responsibilities and those of others in relation to nuclear weapons. These three stages are called ‘Familiarisation,’ ‘Collective Introspection’ and ‘Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue.’ The first and second steps are aimed at developing an understanding and clarity within the parties about their own responsibilities in relation to nuclear weapons. The third step aims to enable two or more different stakeholders to share, in an empathic dialogical setting, their conceptions of responsibilities with one another to build better understanding, encourage perspective-taking, and discuss opportunities to better fulfil reciprocal responsibilities.
The Nuclear Responsibilities Approach could help to mitigate the potential threats posed by emerging technologies because it does not focus on any single dimension of nuclear weapons. In this era of emerging technologies, a single dimension arms control treaty whether at a global level or regional level will not be adequate. The approach aims to develop a new culture of responsibility among states in the global nuclear order which includes a better understanding of the various threats that nuclear weapons could pose to the international system, including the potential de-stabilising effect of emerging technologies. Here, a ‘Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue’ can open up a space for different stakeholders to understand each other’s perceptions, aims, and fears; recasting enemy images and allowing a better emotional exchange between the stakeholders involved. They can communicate to one another their understanding of responsibilities and even reach a common understanding of their shared responsibilities.
By creating a culture of nuclear responsibilities, the approach can help states to develop a value-based normative order within which the utilisation of emerging technologies becomes even beneficial to the security of nuclear weapons. Emerging technologies are now in a phase of development and are rapidly evolving. Treaties and conventions can become outdated with the evolution of technology, but a culture of responsibility can inoculate long-lasting values like trust and empathy in stakeholders.
The impact of emerging technologies on nuclear weapons is multi-dimensional and a multi-dimensional framework such as the Nuclear Responsibilities approach can be particularly useful for states to grapple with the growing threats to nuclear stability. Moreover, the Nuclear Responsibilities Approach encourages stakeholders to exercise the ‘Security Dilemma Sensibility’ (SDS) – a form of empathy, theorised by Ken Booth and Nicholas Wheeler,Ken Booth and Nicholas J. Wheeler, Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation, and Trust in World Politics, First edition (Basingstoke England ; New York, N.Y: Red Globe Press, 2007). which helps decision-makers to put themselves into the shoes of their adversaries and understand their fears and security concerns. This could engender trust-building processes that can pave the way for cooperation, risk reduction, and even arms control agreements between nuclear adversaries. The focus on SDS and trust-building is just the way forward in this age of emerging technologies.
Adherence to old deterrence models has so far only fuelled further arms races between nuclear adversaries in an attempt to offset the advantage possessed by the adversary – the development of Anti-Ballistic Missile defence systems and Hypersonic glide vehicles are a case in point. States policies should not be caged by ‘Security Dilemma’Robert Jervis, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics 30, no. 2 (1978): 167–214, https://doi.org/10.2307/2009958. perceptions but guided by empathy and trust, which can help bridging differences and misperceptions. It is important for decision-makers to understand that their counterparts in adversarial states are also their fellow human beings. The ‘Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue’ can help in this development of inter-state empathy and trust because it is not focused on give-and-take negotiations, but on reaching mutual understanding. Such a type of dialogue can help stakeholders to create new images of their adversaries in which they will not cast them as their enemies but rather as their fellow human beings. Emerging technologies are further increasing the fog of war and uncertainty in the battlefield which makes it imperative for states to be emphatic towards one other and to trust each other.
Views expressed belong solely to the original author of the article and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of BASIC.
|↑1||Daniele Rotolo, Diana Hicks, and Ben R. Martin, “What Is an Emerging Technology?,” Research Policy 44, no. 10 (December 1, 2015): 1827–43, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2015.06.006|
|↑2||Bhumitra Chakma, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine and Command and Control System: Dilemmas of Small Nuclear Forces in the Second Atomic Age,” Security Challenges 2, no. 2 (2006): 115–33.|
|↑3||Mansoor Ahmed and Maimuna Ashraf, “The Pulwama-Balakot Crisis:,” CISS Insight Journal 7, no. 1 (July 15, 2019): 01–24.|
|↑4||Ken Booth and Nicholas J. Wheeler, Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation, and Trust in World Politics, First edition (Basingstoke England ; New York, N.Y: Red Globe Press, 2007).|
|↑5||Robert Jervis, “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics 30, no. 2 (1978): 167–214, https://doi.org/10.2307/2009958.|