Heather Williams discusses the impact of emerging technologies on nuclear escalation and arms control


On February 28th the Oxford Centre for Technology and Global Affairs welcomed Dr. Heather Williams to discuss “From ICBMs to Instagram: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Nuclear Escalation and Arms Control” as part of our Lunchtime Seminar Series. Williams is a Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department and the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London, where she is a co-convenor of the Master’s Programme on Arms Control and International Security.

Williams began her presentation by critically reviewing the traditional US interpretation of strategic stability in a nuclear context, contrasting this posture with different potential interpretations. While ‘Western’ countries have historically viewed stability through a relatively narrow lens focused on nuclear forces, other nations, such as Russia and China, have taken a broader view. These other countries include conventional as well as nuclear forces in their understanding of strategic stability, which complicates U.S. attempts to engage them in arms control talks.

Williams then addressed the question of how emerging technologies such as cyber weapons and social media may reduce crisis stability, including in the nuclear domain.