July 1, 2021
Reid Pauly was recently invited to join the inaugural Schmidt Futures International Strategy Fellowship Class of 2020, which aims to elevate and connect rising leaders in global affairs and to equip them to tackle the most pressing challenges of the next few decades.
In 1945, for the first time, our survival as a species was called into question—nuclear weapons threatened rapid civilizational ruin. Some called for their abolition. Others pointed to the stabilizing properties of mutual fear and to the abundant clean energy that nuclear technology offered. Weighing these tradeoffs, leaders decided that nuclear technology was not a problem to be solved so much as managed indefinitely. To balance deterrence and survival, proliferation and energy, nations implemented arms control treaties, verification regimes, and export controls; all enforced by coercion, cooperation, and intelligence collection. We rose to the challenge of managing "dual-use" technology through political institutions.
Today, our future will be shaped again by dual-use technologies with existential risk—artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, synthetic biology, and nuclear weapons. These challenges are more urgent than ever, as leaders have begun rejecting the nuclear nonproliferation regime itself—withdrawing from arms control treaties, lab-to-lab cooperation, and verification regimes.
As a scholar of nuclear strategy and proliferation, Reid Pauly has been invited to join the inaugural Schmidt Futures International Strategy Forum fellowship Class of 2020 to help ensure that these technologies do not set back our civilizational clock. (Last year’s convening was postponed due to the pandemic.) Pauly will be a member of an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners who aim to repair and update the political safety-nets that spare us from the worst consequences of technology run amok.
The Schmidt Futures International Strategy Forum was founded in recognition that no single discipline can solve the problems facing the world today. In this sense, it mirrors the Watson Institute’s mission as an interdisciplinary research center with a public policy focus. Schmidt fellows come from academia, law, philanthropy, industry, government, and technology.