Posted: 18th March 2019
Greetings from Austin, Texas, where ICAN is at South by Southwest (SXSW) trying to get some of the most creative minds in tech to commit to not using their skills and knowledge to aid the production, modernisation and deployment of nuclear weapons. Why? Because without the support of technology innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and academics to build and maintain these inhumane weapons, nuclear weapons would not exist.Do you work in tech or in any other STEM field? Get involved
This week some of the leaders and brightest minds in technology from all over the world are converging in Austin to attend the technology film and music festival SXSW, and we came down to meet them. We’re not the only ones here, of course, the US Department of Defense makes no secret that it’s here to recruit the best & brightest. However, this year we’ve seen leaders and employees in the tech sector be more open than ever to discuss the ethical implications of their work. So we’re here to ask the tech sector – and everybody in science, engineering and math – to draw the line at nuclear weapons.
We’re also asking the experts to help us map out how developments in the field, such as the rise of AI, cyber-warfare and automation, will affect the likelihood of nuclear conflict or even accidental use.
These questions are more urgent than ever. So far in 2019, we’ve seen the second summit between Trump and Kim-Jong Un collapse without any real progress towards denuclearisation, nuclear-weapon personnel in India and Pakistan being summonedduring the escalating conflict between the two countries, and the overtures to a new Cold War. Not only are the US and Russia walking away from the INF-Treaty but they have also begun rolling out the first updated missiles from their costly modernisation programs.
This is not a new thing. Nuclear-weapons states are projected to spend more than 2 trillion USD modernising their existing nuclear arsenals, and these investments suggest that nuclear weapons might remain in the global security landscape through the 2050s, no matter what other challenges emerging technologies will bring.
That is why it is time to end nuclear weapons altogether. And we’ve had lots of great news on that front this year. In January, Cambodia became the 70th country to sign the Treaty. Just two weeks ago, South Africa – a country that used to have a nuclear weapons programme of its own but chose to dismantle it in the early 90s - ratified the Nuclear Ban Treaty. The Treaty now has 22 States Parties, we are nearly halfwayto its entry into force. So at ICAN, we are giving it everything to reach that 50 state mark this year. And to do that, we need to change the narrative, we need to get everybody informed, and involved. So this week, we’re calling on everybody in STEM to step up and join us.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
P.S. I wrote about disrupting nuclear weapons in TechCrunch. Check it out.