Thoughts on LLNL Strategic Latency Report

By Jon Lindsay

This new publication from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Global Security Research (CSGR) just came to my attention.

The traditional yet complex problem of nuclear latency concerns the logistics and perhaps intention of moving from nuclear power to nuclear weapons (we debated many different definitions of “latency” today at a conference at the Wilson Center–there seem to be almost as many ways to define it as there are of what counts as a “domain”!). LLNL CSGR’s new volume looks at the more general problem of strategic latency, which is the potential to convert cutting edge developments in S&T into potentially game changing military applications. It includes chapters on lasers, 3d printing, and robotics–which provides some useful variation outside of the space and cyber areas we have been investigating in more detail–as well as some national case studies. Many of these developments are interesting in that they are happening outside of state laboratories in the private sector, meaning disruptive innovation is more democratized than ever before (i.e., think Google Labs rather than Manhattan Project). They thus represent the emergence of new capabilities, linkages, and actors, or greater complexity in CDD. Whether this complexity portends more or less stability is one of the foundational questions in our project.

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