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Innovation, Dual Use, and Security

Innovation, Dual Use, and Security. Edited by Jona­than B. Tucker. The MIT Press.; 352 pages, $27.

Assessing the security risks of emerging technologies is no easy task. Compounding the issue is a paradox that many of the things created to benefit human health and welfare are the very things that—without proper safeguards—can be used for hostile intent. One example is that the same synthetic DNA used in life-saving drugs can also be used to make deadly viral agents targeted for biological warfare and terrorism. This dual-use dilemma, which is the heart of the book, poses unique challenges for security professionals.

The systematic approach detailed in Innovation, Dual Use, and Security is well presented through a framework of more than a dozen case stud­ies. While these studies, as well as historical overviews of the development of nerve agents and LSD, are interesting, they are also complex in nature and scope. Complex topics such as synthetic genomics, DNA shuffling, and immunological modulation significantly narrow the audience within the security field that will find this material on target.

In addition, suggestions for practical security measures or safeguards that could protect against misuse of these dual-use elements are notably absent. While this does not reduce the value of the book, it effectively limits the audience to security professionals within the scientific community.

Reviewer: Terry L. Wettig, CPP, is director of international security audits for Brink’s, Incorporated. A retired U.S. Air Force chief master sergeant, he is a member of ASIS International.