The pros and cons of dual-use technology
There’s a big moral dilemma when you’re interested in inventing solutions which benefit mankind. If you make something which has peaceful intentions and has the function to greatly benefit civilians or society. You run the risk of it being used for Military purposes.
You are then faced with the decision, do I want to continue down this route and release something which can be potentially weaponised?
This technology is commonly known as Dual Use Technology.
What exactly is Dual Use Technology?
Dual use goods are products and technologies normally used for civilian purposes but which may have military applications.
SOURCE : Wikipedia – Dual Use Technology
What is the problem?
If I could sum it all up in one word, it would be people. Humanity is the problem. War is one of the biggest problems going around. It’s also one of the largest money makers. Until people learn change. We will always have this problem. Not everyone in the world is good, not everyone in the world is bad. Until the world has good intentions and aims to seek peace however, we will always be at risk of another nutjob causing war or hurting people.
What is the safest way to guard against Dual Use Technology?
The simplest way is either never to make it, never release it, never disclose it or patent it.
After all, once there’s awareness and it’s in the public domain. The information becomes accessible to other people. Your technology is then liable to be confiscated, stolen or duplicated.
There’s no point putting a patent on your Technology. A patent is nothing more than something which allows you to sue others using your invention. A patent does not stop someone building their own product for their own. It simply gives you proof that they stole your invention.
After all. To patent something, you have to legally release the information into the Public domain. It’s then accessible to anyone and everyone.
China are a common nation that have been known to “knock-off” technology and products as their own versions and seem to regularly bypass any legal ramifications.
If you live in the UK / USA, or most parts of the world your Technology can be confiscated if it’s considered a threat to national security. Or in general if you invent something which the Government feels can be a benefit to them, you can damn be sure that it would be confiscated.
Have you heard of the Wassenger Agreement? Take a look at the list of items and their sub-categories that are monitored as part of dual use technology. You can see how broad the range is that allows technology to be confiscated if it fits in line with military objectives.
It’s even worse in places like the USA. They have the “Invention Secrecy Act“. Basically it’s a generic catch all that allows them to confiscate anything which falls in line with military objectives or threats to national security as it’s worded. One of the heaviest there is cryptography. If you invent or design something, you can guarantee a knock at your door. Especially if it involves new levels of encryption, breaking encryption.
Although it has now been declassified, the ECHELON project was a massive surveillance program initially design for military use. Now it’s thought of more as industrial espionage, after all. Why worry about stealing technology when you can just spy on people, then patent it before they do. You hold the rights to it due to first patent, and you already know how it works due to spying. This is why the Military are so shit-hot when it comes to Cyrptography and classifying it as a “national secret”.
Most companies to prevent espionage are using Cryptography. Imagine if the Military couldn’t hack into these communications. You could have sensitive information being transmitted (a bit OTT, but nuclear launch codes for example). Or normal information (something like a solar cell that’s 90% efficient). Both of these would be situations where the military would want to make sure they can break into and intercept communications. One good and one bad.
Is Dual Use Technology bad?
No, until it’s used for bad purposes. One of the most common known dual use technologies was GPS (Global Positioning System). This system is used for targeting missiles, but was also used for saving lives. A commonly known modern application of this was the What3Words design. It utilises GPS, it has a database of words. However your mobile phone needs to find out your current location to link it to the database. This is done through GPS. Without the release of this dual use technology we would have never benefitted from it.
What about me, do I invent or study?
Yes, every project I build I think of the consequences or benefits of the Technology and how it has the potential to be weaponised, or how it could be used for military purposes. When I invent and study, I only have one goal in mind to benefit mankind and increase my knowledge. Once I have the information, I plan on destroying inventions. I’d rather the information i’ve learned stays in my head so it can never be obtained.
You sound like a conspiracy theorist/anti-government
To some degree. I am. I don’t trust the government’s of any nation. They always act in their own interests, or in the interests of war. Just because you’re not making “military” weapons, doesn’t mean it can’t be used. Actions always have consequences
I just happen to be a person who sees both the positives and negatives to everything. I don’t have a clouded vision.
You have to weigh up the positives and negatives. Then determine if the information can be released, or if it would be a greater benefit to stay classified.
What are my personal goals?
For me. Setup a Business where I can make/sell products which can’t be utilised for any negative reasons so I can focus full time on my projects. Then focus on my projects. Study and learn. For me it’s about proof of concept. I have no interest in using the Technologies. Once I have my proof of concept. Destroy them.