Cyber & Technology

The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones---Confronting a New Age of Threat

By Benjamin Wittes, Gabriella Blum
Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 10:51 AM

We're thrilled to announce the publication today of our new book, The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones—---Confronting A New Age of Threat.

The book takes on what we think is a pretty big question: How do you govern a world in which anyone can attack anyone from anywhere?

Technologies of attack have proliferated remarkably far, and the rate of spread is accelerating, not slowing down. It's not just cybersecurity problems associated with networked computers. It's also biotechnology, robotics, hybrids of all three, and technologies we haven't even imagined yet. The result is that individuals have incredible power---even as they have unprecedented vulnerability to attack. Borders no longer define the parameters of either state vulnerability or state authority. Governments are no longer solely responsible for nations' security. And the relationship between the state and the individual is changing, as are relations between states, and the basic human understanding of the complicated interactions between liberty, security, privacy, and surveillance.

The world of many-to-many threats and defenses---as we term it---is a world that challenges the philosophical foundations of the liberal state, which was predicated by the Enlightenment political theorists on the notion that surrendering some portion of our liberty to an entity capable of protecting us would make our residual liberty meaningful. What if that premise is no longer true---or is on its way to technological obsolescence? What if the spread of technologies of mass empowerment leaves the Leviathan toothless in a sea of super-empowered smaller fishes?

These are some of the questions we explore in the book, which we'll be discussing tomorrow---Wednesday, March 11th at 1:30 pm---at our launch event at the Brookings Institution. The panel will include both of us, and well as noted political theorist William Galston of Brookings, and Benjamin Wizner of the ACLU.

You can RSVP here for the event. And please pick up a copy of the book at the event or online.