“Need To Know” Exercise

As discussed, we are planning to have six main themes for this course: 1. nuclear weapons and warfare; 2. delivery systems for nuclear weapons (and other weapons of mass destruction); 3. nuclear energy and nuclear weapons proliferation; 4. nuclear and radiological terrorism; 5. biotechnology, biosecurity, and bioterrorism; and 6. cyberwarfare. For this exercise, we will divide up the class into groups (one for each theme) and have you brainstorm for up to 20 minutes on the following question:

What would you need to know to make technically informed judgments (and inform security and/or science policy) on this particular issue?

Answer in particular:

  • What are the underlying scientific disciplines and technical capabilities? In other words: What would you need to know to develop your own capability and/or assess the capability of an adversary?
  • What are the effects and consequences of use? How do you “measure” them?
  • Are there means to prevent, protect, and (perhaps) defend against use?
  • Given the opportunity: How would you control or ban (if applicable) development, deployment, and use of the technology? Could this be verified?

Depending on your topic, the emphasis of your discussion can be on a subset of these points. Afterwards, each group briefly reports back to the class.