On October 30 and 31, the first CNTR Tech Trend Lab took place at PRIF in Frankfurt. In four panels, scholars and practitioners discussed current developments in the natural and technical sciences and resulting challenges and opportunities for arms control.
The first panel, Current Trends in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, featured Dr. Jantje Silomon, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, and Dr. Thomas Reinhold, member of CNTR’s research group “Emerging Disruptive Technologies”. Chaired by Prof. Dr. Dr. Christian Reuter, co-leader of the same research group, current challenges in the field of AI were discussed, such as ethical issues in the use of AI in warfare, accountability issues of explainable AI, as well as changing behavior of large language models such as ChatGPT.
The second panel, The State of Play in Additive Manufacturing, brought together CNTR researcher Liska Suckau and Dr. Grant Christopher, Acting Co-Programme Director for Verification and Monitoring of the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) for a discussion moderated by CNTR Project Coordinator Frank Kuhn. In addition to technical introductions to various additive manufacturing processes as distinguished from conventional manufacturing methods, the panel discussed various military applications and debunked common myths about the technology’s risk and military potential, in particular with respect to the use of 3D printing by non-state actors such as terrorist groups.
The third panel, The Convergence of Chemistry and Biology – Is the International Community up to the Task?, opened with a presentation by Dr. Ralf Trapp, independent disarmament consultant in the field of chemical and biological weapons. Afterwards, participants discussed what challenges the convergence of chemistry and biology poses for existing chemical and biological weapons ban conventions. The panel was moderated by Prof. Dr. Peter R. Schreiner, PhD, co-leader of CNTR’s “Chemical and Biological Weapons Control” research group.
The workshop closed with the fourth panel, International Efforts to Deal with Emerging Technologies and Scientific Developments, which featured Isabel Sarasin, Deputy Head of Division OR 10 of the Federal Foreign Office, and Dr. Stefan Kordasch, Head of Division OR 12 of the Federal Foreign Office. The panel discussed current challenges for international control of both Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) and chemical and biological weapons, and was chaired by Dr. Una Jakob, Co-Head of CNTR’s “Chemical and Biological Weapons Control” research group.
The CNTR Tech Trend Labs are held annually at the locations of the Research and Transfer Cluster starting in 2023 and, in addition to exchange and networking, also serve in preparation of the CNTR Monitor.