March 18, 2021

Future Technology and Terrorism

Dr. Audrey Cronin

There are few things in the Western public imaginaire more associated with terrorism than explosions—suicide bombings, IEDs, car bombs—and the AK-47. These symbols are so associated with public-political disruption due to what Dr. Cronin calls the “Open Technological Revolution.” This access to technological information—first made widespread through 20th-century journals and put into hyperspeed by the internet—blurs the line between professional manufacturers and capable, amateur tinkerers. What was once only possible through state-sponsored ventures, individual actors and non-state groups are increasingly pursuing their political goals by manufacturing and customizing 2nd/3rd generation technologies and using them against state forces. This trend only continues as more and more advanced technologies become public-internet domain.

Dr. Audrey Cronin offers insight into the historical and developing context of global terrorism. She argues that there are two types of innovative systems: open development and closed technological development. She believes that we are now in a system of open development which enables non-state actors to have access to any sort of information that is accessible, and this is dangerous because it introduces a downside of innovation. To best counter this danger, as a society, we should be introducing public regulation, global agreements, increased education, and counter measures to things already in use. She believes the open technological systems are dangerous and perpetuated by the rise of the internet and globalization and we must tread carefully in the future: not necessarily stopping innovation but maintaining caution and foresight as we continue to innovate and create.

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