Press Release

New American Academy of Arts and Sciences Publication Examines Governance Structures for Reducing Risks Posed by Dual-Use Technologies


White Paper Explores Legal Frameworks for Regulation of Nuclear, Biological, and Cyber Technologies

CAMBRIDGE, MA | May 10, 2016 — The term dual-use characterizes technologies that can have both military and civilian applications. What is the state of current efforts to control the spread of these powerful technologies—nuclear, biological, cyber—that can simultaneously advance social and economic well-being and also be harnessed for hostile purposes? What have previous efforts to govern, for example, nuclear and biological weapons taught us about the potential for the control of these dual-use technologies? What are the implications for governance when the range of actors who could cause harm with these technologies include not just national governments but also non-state actors like terrorists?

These are some of the questions addressed by Governance of Dual-Use Technologies: Theory and Practice, the new publication released today by the Global Nuclear Future Initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The publication’s editor is Elisa D. Harris, Senior Research Scholar, Center for International Security Studies, University of Maryland School of Public Affairs.

Governance of Dual-Use Technologies examines the similarities and differences between the strategies used for the control of nuclear technologies and those proposed for biotechnology and information technology. The publication makes clear the challenges concomitant with dual-use governance. For example, general agreement exists internationally on the need to restrict access to technologies enabling the development of nuclear weapons. However, no similar consensus exists in the bio and information technology domains. The publication also explores the limitations of military measures like deterrence, defense, and reprisal in preventing globally available biological and information technologies from being misused.

Some of the other questions explored by the publication include: What types of governance measures for these dual-use technologies have already been adopted? What objectives have those measures sought to achieve? How have the technical characteristics of the technology affected governance prospects? What have been the primary obstacles to effective governance, and what gaps exist in the current governance regime? Are further governance measures feasible?

In addition to a preface from Global Nuclear Future Initiative Co-Director Robert Rosner (University of Chicago) and an introduction and conclusion from Elisa Harris, Governance of Dual-Use Technologies includes:

  • On the Regulation of Dual-Use Nuclear Technology by James M. Acton (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

  • Dual-Use Threats: The Case of Biotechnology by Elisa D. Harris (University of Maryland)

  • Governance of Information Technology and Cyber Weapons by Herbert Lin (Stanford University)

To download a copy of Governance of Dual-Use Technologies: Theory and Practice, please visit

About the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Current Academy research focuses on higher education, the humanities, and the arts; science and technology policy; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good. The Academy’s work is advanced by its elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.

About the Global Nuclear Future Initiative
Governance of Dual-Use Technologies is part of the American Academy’s Global Nuclear Future (GNF) Initiative. GNF is a comprehensive interdisciplinary, multi institutional, and multi-national project that seeks to identify paths that permit the peaceful use of nuclear power to meet the growing demand for energy, while minimizing the potential adverse consequences of the spread of inherently risky nuclear technology. This initiative brings together diverse communities, including leading experts from academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, and the nuclear industry. By engaging with key constituencies—particularly in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East where choices and behavior will have a significant impact on the character of the international nuclear order—GNF identifies and promotes best practices to minimize the security and non-proliferation concerns associated with the spread of nuclear energy. The Global Nuclear Future Initiative is supported by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Flora Family Foundation, and The Kavli Foundation.



Dave Nuscher
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Chief Communications Officer
Twitter: @americanacad






Global Nuclear Future

Steven E. Miller, Robert Rosner, and Scott D. Sagan