the possibility that a nation might be brought to economic ruin without physical death and destruction.

• Some military research is conducted in a classified environment.

A full investigation of ethical, legal, and societal issues associated with technology for military or national security purposes is beyond the scope of this report. To make its task more manageable, the committee explored three areas with respect to ERA technologies:

The conduct of research, which includes the selection of research areas, the design of particular research investigations (e.g., protocols, experiments), and the execution of those investigations. ELSI concerns relating to the conduct of research focus primarily on the effects of the research on parties other than those who are explicitly acknowledged as being research subjects, such as individuals living close to where the research is being performed, family members of research subjects, and so on. (ELSI concerns related to acknowledged research subjects are important, but there is today a well-developed infrastructure to address such concerns, and the adequacy of this infrastructure is not within the scope of this report.)

Research applications, which relate to capabilities intended to result from research on ERA technologies. ELSI concerns associated with specified applications fall into two categories: concerns about the intended effects or purposes of the application and concerns about undesired effects (sometimes known as side effects) that might occur in addition to the intended effects. Concerns about technologies that can be used for both military and civilian purposes fall into this category.

Unanticipated, unforeseen, or inadvertent ELSI consequences of either research or applications; such consequences are usually manifested by something going awry, as when research does not proceed as expected and thus causes harm outside the original bounds on the research or when unanticipated applications raise additional ELSI concerns.


For illustrative purposes, this report considers three foundational technologies (foundational sciences and technologies) that enable progress and applications in a variety of problem domains: information technology, synthetic biology, and neuroscience. In addition, four application domains associated with specific operational military problems are addressed: robotics, prosthetics and human enhancement, cyber weapons, and nonlethal weapons. These technologies and applications are examples of ERA technologies as defined above—a multitude of state and nonstate

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