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Given the complexity of the current nuclear age and the absence of work on deterrence under true multipolarity, interdisciplinary models can provide new perspectives on tailored deterrence. Drawing from recent findings in the life sciences, this article offers a cultural neuroscience approach to deterrence decision-making, with special attention given to the ways in which culture interacts with cognition and the security environment to shape behavioral outcomes during conflict. Since North Korea remains largely a “black box” in international relations, a cultural neuroscience perspective can provide valuable insight into the effects of cultural conditioning on perception and cognition within the context of nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula. Through an analysis of the bureaucratic and military structures, leadership characteristics, and institutional landscapes shaping North Korean strategic culture, this article examines the influences of historical memory and cultural values, such as collectivism, honor, and face-saving, on political decision-making in Pyongyang.
The chemical and biological nonproliferation regime stands at a watershed moment, when failure seems a real possibility. After the unsuccessful outcome of the 2016 Eighth Review Conference, the future of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention is uncertain. As the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) approaches its Fourth Review Conference in 2018, it has almost completed removing the huge stocks of chemical weapons, but it now faces the difficult organizational task of moving its focus to preventing the reemergence of chemical weapons at a time when the international security situation appears to be increasingly more difficult and dangerous. In this article, we assess the current and near-term state (5–10 years) and impact of three related areas of science and technology that could be of dual-use concern: targeted delivery of agents to the central nervous system (CNS), particularly by means of nanotechnology; direct impact of nanomaterials on synaptic functions in the CNS; and neuronal circuits in the brain that might be targeted by those with hostile intent. We attempt to assess the implications of our findings, particularly for the consideration of the problem of state-level interest in so-called nonlethal incapacitating chemical agents for law enforcement at the CWC Review Conference in 2018, but also more generally for the longer-term future of the chemical and biological nonproliferation regime.
This article discusses the contingencies and complexities of CRISPR. It outlines key problems regarding off-target effects and replication of experimental work that are important to consider in light of CRISPR's touted ease of use and diffusion. In light of literature on the sociotechnical dimensions of the life sciences and biotechnology and literature on former bioweapons programs, this article argues that we need more detailed empirical case studies of the social and technical factors shaping CRISPR and related gene-editing techniques in order to better understand how they may be different from other advances in biotechnology—or whether similar features remain. This information will be critical to better inform intelligence practitioners and policymakers about the security implications of new gene-editing techniques.
Salmon farming is a key industry in Norway, with firsthand value of more than 60 billion Norwegian crowns in 2017. The salmon industry is a driving force for biotechnological applications in the marine sector. The recent release of the Atlantic salmon reference genome offers new opportunities to solve major aquaculture bottlenecks that currently limit expansion of the industry. One major bottleneck is the genetic impact of escaped farmed salmon on wild populations. To solve this problem, the industry can use sterile salmon in production. As shown byWargelius et al., sterile salmon can be made by preventing the formation of germ cells through genome editing using the CRISPR-Cas9 method. This approach solves problems of genetic introgression and precocious maturation. However, genome editing of animals, especially for human consumption, raises ethical as well as safety and legal questions. These social and ethical aspects can have tremendous impact in analyzing the final result of salmon farming (e.g., consumer acceptability of a fresh or frozen filet or similar salmon product) but also can be examined “upstream” by describing and assessing the research communities that promote and carry out the science that underpins the salmon industry. Who produces the scientific “facts” that govern the Norwegian aquaculture industry? How do these scientific communities work together? What are the societal impacts of this science? This article uses ethnographical observation and interviews to describe the state-of-the-art of CRISPR gene-editing procedures currently employed in the science and industry collaboration in Norway.
A new paradigm has emerged in which both genetic and environmental factors are cited as possible influences on sociopolitical attitudes. Despite the increasing acceptance of this paradigm, several aspects of the approach remain underdeveloped. Specifically, limitations arise from a reliance on a twins-only design, and all previous studies have used self-reports only. There are also questions about the extent to which existing findings generalize cross-culturally. To address those issues, this study examined individual differences in liberalism/conservatism in a German sample that included twins, their parents, and their spouses and incorporated both self- and peer reports. The self-report findings from this extended twin family design were largely consistent with previous research that used that rater perspective, but they provided higher estimates of heritability, shared parental environmental influences, assortative mating, and genotype-environment correlation than the results from peer reports. The implications of these findings for the measurement and understanding of sociopolitical attitudes are explored.
In May 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released the report “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects,” summarizing scientific consensus on genetically engineered crops and their implications. NASEM reports aim to give the public and policymakers information on socially relevant science issues. Their impact, however, is not well understood. This analysis combines national pre- and post-report survey data with a large-scale content analysis of Twitter discussion to examine the report's effect on public perceptions of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We find that the report's release corresponded with reduced negativity in Twitter discourse and increased ambivalence in public risk and benefit perceptions of GMOs, mirroring the NASEM report's conclusions. Surprisingly, this change was most likely for individuals least trusting of scientific studies or university scientists. Our findings indicate that NASEM consensus reports can help shape public discourse, even in, or perhaps because of, the complex information landscape of traditional and social media.
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