Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation Is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Oct 2, 2019 - Diffusion of innovations - 432 pages
Never have so many possessed the means to be so lethal. The diffusion of modern technology (robotics, cyber weapons, 3-D printing, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence) to ordinary people has given them access to weapons of mass violence previously monopolized by the state. In recent years, states have attempted to stem the flow of such weapons to individuals and non-state groups, but their efforts are failing.

As Audrey Kurth Cronin explains in Power to the People, what we are seeing now is an exacerbation of an age-old trend. Over the centuries, the most surprising developments in warfare have occurred because of advances in technologies combined with changes in who can use them. Indeed, accessible innovations in destructive force have long driven new patterns of political violence. When Nobel invented dynamite and Kalashnikov designed the AK-47, each inadvertently spurred terrorist and insurgent movements that killed millions and upended the international system.

That history illuminates our own situation, in which emerging technologies are altering society and redistributing power. 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. Cronin closes by focusing on how to respond so that we both preserve the benefits of emerging technologies yet reduce the risks. 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.



The Age of Lethal Empowerment
Shaped by the Nuclear Revolution
When and How Violent Individuals and Groups Innovate
3 Dynamite and the Birth of Modern Terrorism
4 How Dynamite Diffused
5 The Kalashnikov and the Global Wave of Insurgencies
6 How the Kalashnikov Diffused
Social Media and Conquering Digital Terrain
Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence
Strategy for Democracies in an Age of Lethal Empowerment
Detailed Contents
Books Cited

From AK47s to Drones Robots Smartphones and 3D Printing

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2019)

Audrey Kurth Cronin, one of the world's leading experts on security and terrorism, is currently Professor of International Security and the Founding Director of the Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology at American University. Previously, 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 executive branch, including in the office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. She is the author of several books, including How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns.

Bibliographic information