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Technology & National Security

This edition is a collection of papers commissioned for the 2018 Aspen Strategy Group Summer Workshop, a bipartisan meeting of national security experts, academics, private sector leaders, and technologists. The chapters in this volume evaluate the disruptive nature of technological change on the US military, economic power, and democratic governance. They highlight possible avenues for US defense modernization, the impact of disinformation tactics and hybrid warfare on democratic institutions, and the need for a reinvigorated innovation triangle comprised of the US government, academia, and private corporations. The executive summary offers practical recommendations to meet the daunting challenges this technological era imposes.

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Background

In August 2018, the Aspen Strategy Group convened its 34th annual meeting of the Summer Workshop. ASG members and invited experts discussed the effects of dramatic technological change on American national security. Our conversations covered a wide breadth of emerging technologies – artificial intelligence, digital technologies, quantum computing, and biotechnology – and the unrelenting changes these advancements pose to America’s military, the intelligence community, economic power, and democratic institutions.

The group grappled with a central dilemma of how the US government can harness these technologies – developed primarily in the private sector and research labs – to compete with both state and non-state rivals. The rapid pace of technological change will continue to impact key pillars of American power, including its defense structure, economy and workforce, and democratic governance.