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Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances
Recommendation 1: The Defense Intelligence Agency Technology Warning Division, together with the related intelligence community components that focus on technology warning, should establish an ongoing collaborative relationship with the scientific and technical communities in the industrial and academic sectors.
The National Academies, through the National Research Council, provide both a window into these communities and an appropriate institutional mechanism that could assist in this endeavor. This ad hoc committee, which will be disbanded with the publication of the present report, believes that a standing committee could more effectively support the needs of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The short-term effort of this committee was hampered by the lack of time to build a shared understanding of the Technology Warning Division’s operating environment and to establish the collaborations necessary to adequately leverage the additional expertise readily accessible via the National Academies through the National Research Council. The establishment of a standing committee would help overcome these impediments and provide the foundation for an ongoing collaborative relationship.
INDICATORS RELATING TO GLOBALIZATION AND COMMERCIALIZATION
The forces of globalization and commercialization that are altering the world in terms of the potential for “technology surprise” require new approaches to the identification of indicators for providing technology warning. Throughout this report the committee focused largely on observables derived from open sources, but other potentially valuable sources exist (e.g., confidential discussions with industrial and academic researchers that may yield valuable insights for the technology warning community while protecting proprietary information). Although a diverse array of potential sources is identified in the preceding chapters, the individual sources were not vetted and the committee did not conduct a disciplined evaluation of the completeness of the array, nor did it make any effort to deconflict its sources with those already in use by the community.
Finding 2: New intelligence indicators are likely to be needed to provide technology warning for the diverse spectrum of evolving technologies that are being driven by commercial forces in the global marketplace.
Traditionally, the United States has assumed that it leads the world in science and technology. This perspective leads the technology warning community to look for indications that external actors are trying to “catch up,” or to exploit known technologies in new ways. Projected future trends suggest that it should no longer be automatically assumed that the United States will lead in all relevant technologies. This revised perspective imposes a new burden on the technology warning community, generating the need for it to search in different places and in different ways to be able to warn against technological surprise.
Recommendation 2: The Defense Intelligence Agency Technology Warning Division, in collaboration with the related intelligence community components that focus on technology warning, should establish, maintain, and systematically analyze a comprehensive array of indicators pertaining to globalization and commercialization of science and technology to complement and focus intelligence collection and analysis.