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Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists

Accessible innovations in destructive force have long driven new patterns of political violence.  When Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the AK-47, each inadvertently spurred terrorist and insurgent movements that killed millions and upended the international system.

In her new book, Audrey Kurth Cronin argues that the twenty-first century “sharing economy” has already disrupted every institution, including the armed forces.  New “open” technologies are transforming access to the means of violence.  Just as importantly, higher-order functions that previously had been exclusively under state military control–mass mobilization, force projection, and systems integration–are being harnessed by non-state actors, including violent individuals, terrorists, insurgents, and private armies.

Power, in the form of lethal technology, is flowing to the people; but the same technologies that empower can imperil global security–unless we act strategically.

Professor Audrey Kurth Cronin of American University, Washington, DC, is one of the world’s leading experts on security and how conflicts end. She is also founding Director of the Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology at American University. Her career incorporates experience in both academic and policy positions, in the US and abroad. Prior to her current post she was faculty member and director of War and Statecraft at the US National War College. Before that she worked as a Specialist in Terrorism at the Congressional Research Service, advising Members of Congress in the aftermath of 9/11. She also held a number of positions in the US executive branch, including in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, and was Director of Studies for Oxford University’s Changing Character of War program. She has been Chairman of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum and a speaker at the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos. Her newest book is Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists (Oxford University Press, 2019).

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