Dual Use Deception: How Technology Shapes International Competition | Jane Vaynman and Tristan A. Volpe

Dual Use Deception: How Technology Shapes International Competition | Jane Vaynman and Tristan A. Volpe

Thursday, June 6, 2024
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

William J. Perry Conference Room

  • Jane Vaynman,
  • Tristan A. Volpe

About the Event: All technology is dual use to some degree: it has both civilian and military applications. This foundational feature often makes it hard to limit military competition. In a recent International Organization article, Jane Vaynman and Tristan Volpe reveal why this is the case. They argue that the duality of technology matters because it shapes the tension between detection and disclosure at the heart of arms control: agreements must provide enough information to detect violations, but not so much that they disclose deeper security vulnerabilities. They characterize technology along two dual use dimensions: (1) the ease of distinguishing military from civilian uses; (2) the degree of integration within military enterprises and the civilian economy. As these attributes vary, so do prospects for cooperation. The study introduces a new data set to assess both variables and their impact on competition across all modern armament technologies.

Unfortunately, many modern technologies at the crux of US-China competition today—from space systems and cyber capabilities to AI foundation models—fall in what Vaynman and Volpe identify as a "dead zone" for arms control. They show how the dual use features of these capabilities sharpen the tension between detection and disclosure, thereby dooming the prospects for cooperation. For AI models, however, it may be more productive to consider how this general-purpose technology will shape the dual use attributes of existing weapon platforms, which stand a better chance of being governed. 

About the Speakers:

Jane Vaynman (Ph.D.) is assistant professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Dr. Vaynman’s work focuses on security cooperation between adversarial states, the design of arms control agreements, and the effects of technology on patterns of international cooperation and competition. From 2022-2024 she served a senior advisor in the Bureau of Arms Control, Deterrence, and Stability at the U.S. Department of State.  Her prior academic appointments include the Department of Political Science at Temple University and the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Dr. Vaynman received her Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University and B.A. from in international relations from Stanford University, with honors from CISAC. 

Tristan A. Volpe (Ph.D.) is an assistant professor in the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School and a nonresident fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is the author of Leveraging Latency: How the Weak Compel the Strong with Nuclear Technology (Oxford University Press, 2023). His work has been published in academic and general policy journals such as International Organization, Security Studies, the Journal of Strategic StudiesForeign Affairs, and The Washington Quarterly. Prior to NPS and Carnegie, Dr. Volpe was a predoctoral fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He currently lives on the Monterey Peninsula in California.

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