The future of arms control, Internet governance, and geoengineering

On May 4 through May 6, the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings and the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) of Berlin will formally release three “Global Governance Futures 2025” research papers. Written by the 2015 Global Governance Futures (GGF) fellows, the 2015 papers focus on issues of global arms control, geo-engineering, and Internet governance.

Managed by the Global Public Policy Institute and supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Global Governance Futures program brings together young professionals from Germany, China, Japan, India and the United States each year to look ahead to future policy issues and propose recommendations for addressing a variety of global challenges. The fellows met four times over the course of 2014 and 2015 in working sessions a series of four sessions, entitled Global Governance Futures—Robert Bosch Foundation Multilateral Dialogues held around the globe.

During the dialogue sessions, the GGF fellows formed three working groups that explored a particular issue area of global governance. Using instruments from the field of futures research, the working groups produced scenarios for their respective issue areas, looking ahead to potential policy developments in the next 10 years. Based on their findings, the fellows will put together a range of publications, including the research papers being presented May 4-6 as well as commentaries that present concrete recommendations on how to foster effective, accountable governance.

Read this year’s GGF research papers:

The Future of Weaponized Unmanned Systems: Challenges and Opportunities
By Takaaki Asano, Abdulrahman El-Sayed, Krystle Kaul, Kevin Körner, Wei Lui, Swati Malik and Mio Nozoe (Members of the GFF working group on global arms control)
Human Intervention in the Earth’s Climate: The Governance of Geoengineering in 2025+
By Masahiko Haraguchi, Rongkun Liu, Jaseep Randhawa, Susanne Salz, Stefan Schäfer, Mudit Sharma, Susan Shifflett and Ying Yuan (Members of the GGF working group on geoengineering governance)
Shared Responsibility: Towards more Inclusive Internet Governance
By Aasim Khan, Seth Oppenheim, Julia Pohle, Runhui Lin, Parminder Sandhu and Taejun Shin GGF (Members of the GFF working group Internet governance)

The 2014-2015 GGF Working Groups

The Global Governance Futures program brings together young professionals to look 10 years ahead and recommend ways to address global policy challenges. GGF 2025 assembled 25 fellows who were divided up into three issue specific working groups:

Working Group 1: Internet Governance

Who should govern the internet? With the World Wide Web turning into one of the major economic, political and social forces of our time, global Internet governance has become increasingly contested. For a long time internet governance was a domain of experts participating in multi-stakeholder organizations, for example the California-based Internet Commission for Assigned Names and Numbers. In recent years, countries such as Russia and China have tried to wrestle away the control of the internet from multi-stakeholder fora to traditional intergovernmental bodies such as the International Telecommunication Union. Given these developments, what are the scenarios for the future governance of the Internet?

Working Group 2: Geoengineering Governance

With stalled efforts to seek international agreement on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, the search for alternatives in addressing the challenges of climate change is on. Technological innovation is fielding geoengineering as a quick and cheap solution. As human-made alterations to the global climate system, geoengineering technologies can potentially alleviate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on ecosystems and the people living in and off of them. Related concepts range from reflecting solar radiation back into space (Solar-Radiation-Management) to fertilizing the world’s oceans with iron to increase their capacity to absorb CO2 abound. The efficient nature of such technologies could tempt countries to deploy them unilaterally. This creates the global policy challenge to create a framework that provides guidelines and standards for their use. Although their effects might be promising, their side-effects remain largely unknown. How will geoengineering affect global policy efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions if it alleviates their burden? What would a global framework to administer the usage of such technologies look like? How will geoengineering modify climate change and redefine the human perception of nature? What kinds of social and political resistance will risky technologies face when they exclude those incapable of implementing them?

Working Group 3: Global Arms Control

Decades after nuclear non-proliferation became a global priority, a new challenge in global arms control is now on the rise: robotic and unmanned weapons. With the United States investing billions of dollars in the research and development of military robotics, and more than 70 other countries following suit, the proliferation of automated weapons is quickly becoming an unstoppable trend. Proponents of this development argue that accurately programmed robots can reduce the human cost of war by overcoming the fallible judgment of people, keeping real soldiers out of danger and more accurately avoiding civilian casualties. Furthermore, the development of robotics for peaceful and humanitarian ends offers compelling and tangible benefits. On the other hand, opponents argue that current artificial intelligence is simply not capable of sound, independent judgment, and technical errors can result in grave consequences. More importantly, by delegating decisions of life and death to machines, the use of automated weapons defuses the accountability and moral responsibility of human commanders. Looking ahead, are we facing a new arms race in military robotics? What challenges does the proliferation of unmanned weapons pose to global governance and arms control? Is it possible to balance the development of artificial intelligence for military versus peaceful ends? How do we address the technical, political, and ethical dilemmas of unmanned weapons?