On October 13th, Dr. Seth Baum, the executive director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, will lead a seminar on deterrence theory and global catastrophic risk reduction at FHI.
Abstract: To deter is, in most general terms, to prevent another entity from taking some undesired action by making the action seem undesirable to them. In what is perhaps the best known form of deterrence, states deter adversary states from attacking by threatening devastating retaliation, in particular with nuclear weapons. This talk will review deterrence theory and discuss its applicability to global catastrophic risk (GCR) reduction. Deterrence theory has figured prominently in military strategy and international politics since the beginning of the atomic age. Deterrence theory is now being revised and extended in response to new threats from nonstate terrorist organizations and from cyber weapons. Deterrence theory can most readily be applied to GCRs involving violent attacks, e.g. nuclear and biological weapons. Deterrence theory can also be applied to GCRs involving nonviolent emerging technology development, e.g. synthetic biology and artificial general intelligence. Deterrence is not perfect, and it raises some significant controversies and dilemmas. However, it can contribute significantly to the suite of tools available for GCR reduction.