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Emerging technologies could facilitate the production and use of biological weapons. Advances in 3D printing, artificial intelligence and robotics could increase the possibilities for the development, production and use of biological weapons, warns a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“The increased use of robots in laboratories could lead to significant gains in productivity during the design-build-test cycle of biological weapons, while artificial intelligence could be used to find new ways to optimize the transmissibility or virulence of a biological agent,” says Dr Vincent Boulanin, Senior Researcher at SIPRI on emerging technologies.

All three technologies are difficult to control, particularly due to their digitization and their dual-use nature.


The existing biological arms control and non-proliferation governance framework needs to be adapted to address these security risks. “A key challenge for effective biological arms control is that treaty structures and the institutional arrangements in ministries and government agencies do not correspond to today’s technical realities,” says Dr Sibylle Bauer, Director of the SIPRI Armament and Disarmament program.

The report recommends that, in order to tackle the governance issues presented by emerging technologies, national governments need to monitor and assess developments in science and technology on a more systematic basis, according to prnewswire.com. They should also strengthen international efforts to foster responsible science and biosecurity awareness. In addition, the report suggests that the private sector should reinforce self-regulation and compliance standards.