New technology trends and innovations occur on a surprisingly regular basis. While many such advancements benefit the defense and Homeland Security sectors, they can also come with significant risks. Here’s a look at some emerging technologies and their impact.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is generally used to refer to computer systems capable of human-level cognition, divided into narrow AI, general AI, and artificial superintelligence. Narrow AI is currently being used in various military applications by a wide range of nations, including for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, logistics, and cyber operations. Further, it can reduce workloads on government employees and military members by supporting automation and introducing capabilities for autonomous vehicle operation, swarming, and other strategies that provide advantages.

While it’s often beneficial to the organizations using it, narrow AI isn’t without its flaws. For example, algorithmic biases may lead to poor results. Additionally, its increasingly widespread use means US agencies must remain aware of how others potentially leverage it.

General AI systems and artificial superintelligence don’t exist yet, but their potential development leads to potential benefits and various concerns. General AI could perform a wide range of tasks outside of its original scope, while superintelligence could exceed the cognitive abilities of people. As a result, it’s difficult to determine the exact risks that may come with the benefits of such capabilities.


Biotechnology is a life sciences discipline that may impact national security. Technologies like gene editing allow organizations to alter life forms on the DNA level. As a result, it could potentially lead to technologies that could augment or restrict military personnel performance.

Synthetic biology – where entirely new entities are created – could introduce risks in the realm of chemical and biological warfare. Additionally, it has the potential to develop technologies like adaptive camouflage, self-healing armor, and more.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is an emerging technology with significant implications in the realms of cybersecurity and stealth technology. It could lead to developments that create communication pathways that aren’t decryptable. Additionally, it can simplify the decryption of secured files using more current encryption technologies, primarily because quantum computers can perform the necessary calculations incredibly rapidly.

Potentially, quantum technology could improve submarine detection, mainly through what’s referred to as quantum sensing. Quantum sensing also has potential in the worlds of navigation, mission timing, and positioning, including when traditional technologies like GPS fail.

Advanced Weapon Systems

Lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) are able to engage with targets independently, using onboard weapons without direct guidance from a human operator. Hypersonic weapons don’t exhibit traditional ballistic trajectories, making them harder to counter. Directed energy (DE) weapons could have far-reaching implications since they rely on electromagnetic energy instead of kinetic.

Ultimately, the various emerging technologies come with benefits as well as ample risks. As a result, they’re altering the landscape for the DOD and Homeland Security.

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