Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and National Intelligence University convened a group of business experts to examine parallels between S&T competition in the marketplace and science and technology intelligence (S&TI). The experts identified the centrality of people — individuals and connected groups — to the successful development and application of latent S&T capabilities. People may indeed be more important to recognizing S&T potential than deep knowledge of any particular technology. This report explores the significance of this key insight for S&TI.
To more clearly understand trends, potential, and ultimate realization of emerging strategic threats from rapidly evolving, expanding, and globalized science and technology (S&T), one must more deeply study the people who are driving rapid S&T innovation. These entrepreneurial leaders shape the business environment for emerging S&T and assemble the components that are essential to the transformation of promising technical ideas to fully realized technological capabilities. An identifiable cadre of individuals from across the globe share certain characteristics, foremost of which is that they are typically driven by a ruthless vision to accomplishment. They are generally known to one another and are fierce competitors — and like-minded collaborators. They are central to the selection of “winning” S&T that ultimately is developed through commercialization. They make things happen and are driven to success.
Technological evolution is accelerating at breakneck speed. Even futurists struggle to keep pace with the unprecedented rate of scientific discoveries and technological innovation. As a result, the political, military, and economic consequences of new technology no longer plod along familiar pathways of development but are instead blazing new byways leading to unknown destinations.
Tremendous technological power is increasingly in the hands of everyman, leaving established theories, policies, and institutions behind. Once distinct fields of inquiry—chemistry, biology, physics, computer science—are merging to produce new technologies that are latent with potential to help and hurt mankind, yet remain ungoverned by any legitimate authority.
Will we be able to detect the emergence of strategically important technologies, some of which could pose grave dangers? If so, are we prepared to act?