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Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security

A Framework for Addressing Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues





Developments in science and technology for military and national security use have often raised a variety of ethical, legal, and societal issues (ELSI). These ELSI-related challenges are accentuated in a context of emerging and readily available technologies, that is, new technologies that are accessible at relatively low cost compared to more traditional militarily relevant technologies, such as nuclear weapons, and thus are within the reach of less technologically advanced nations, non-state actors, and even individuals. This is true because emerging and readily available technologies do not require construction of large engineered systems for their exploitation, and in some cases have the potential for doing harm to U.S. interests on a large scale.

In 2010, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency asked the National Academies to develop a framework for policy makers, institutions, and individual researchers to use in thinking through ethical, legal, and societal issues as they relate to research and development on emerging and readily available technologies with military or other national security relevance.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a discussion about these issues.