How digital technology is reshaping espionage and intelligence-gathering | The TechTank Podcast

A general view of the International Spy Museum

Intelligence gathering has long been shrouded in mystery from the early days to our current digital era. Such mystique has transformed it into a topic of collective fascination, memorialized in wildly popular novels and movie franchises such as James Bond, Mission Impossible, and more. These stories generate mass appeal not just because of their action sequences and dramatic love stories, but also because of the multitude of gadgets and technologies showcased that push the realm of human imagination. And in real life, both the field of intelligence itself and its use of technology have evolved greatly over the years, with algorithms and emerging technologies now playing a major role in the daily functioning of intelligence agencies. Yet, this also brings forth interesting questions concerning how the area has changed and what it means for national security and economic competitiveness.

To discuss these important questions, Center for Technology Innovation Senior Fellow Darrell West is joined by Dr. Amy Zegart. She is the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and the author of a new book published by Princeton University Press entitled Spies, Lies, and Algorithms: The History and Future of American Intelligence. They discuss how digital technology is transforming espionage and why America needs to move towards more open-source data gathering.

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TechTank is a biweekly podcast from The Brookings Institution exploring the most consequential technology issues of our time. From artificial intelligence and racial bias in algorithms, to Big Tech, the future of work, and the digital divide, TechTank takes abstract ideas and makes them accessible. Moderators Dr. Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West speak with leading technology experts and policymakers to share new data, ideas, and policy solutions to address the challenges of our new digital world.