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Beyond WMDs: Mason professor tells UN Security Council about dangers of emerging technologies

August 25, 2016   /   by Buzz McClain

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (left) with Gregory Koblentz, director of Mason's Biodefense Graduate Programs, at the United Nations. Photo provided.

George Mason University professor Gregory Koblentz this week warned the United Nations Security Council of the rise of several new technologies that may make it easier for terrorists such as ISIS to acquire and deliver weapons of mass destruction that could devastate large populations around the world.

Following a briefing by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Koblentz detailed chilling emerging technologies and how terrorists could exploit them for their own malicious purposes. Koblentz, who is director of the Biodefense Graduate Programs at George Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government near Washington, D.C., told the council that unmanned aerial vehicles, 3-D printers and the encrypted Dark Web portion of the Internet represent new tools that terrorists could use to launch chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.

Gene editing also represents a new and significant danger, Koblentz said.

“Instead of [altered genes] being used to eliminate disease, they could be used to introduce new diseases into plant or animal populations,” he said.

Malicious software could be used to launch a cyberattack on a nuclear facility, he suggested, adding, “We should not be just one click of the mouse away from a cyber Chernobyl.”

Secretary General Ban told the member states that emerging technologies “require closer examination and action…The stakes are simply too high to ignore.”