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Futures research as an opportunity for innovation in verification technologies

: Schulze, Joachim; Grüne, Matthias; John, Marcus; Neupert, Ulrik; Thorleuchter, Dirk


Niemeyer, Irmgard (Editor):
Nuclear non-proliferation and arms control verification : Innovative systems concepts
Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2020
ISBN: 978-3-030-29536-3 (Print)
ISBN: 978-3-030-29537-0 (Online)
Book Article
Fraunhofer INT ()

Over the last 40 years, the verification of compliance with disarmament treaties for Weapons of Mass Destruction has steadily evolved using several technological solutions. Today’s technological progress promises a variety of possible future and emerging technologies that may contribute to even better verification techniques. However, the latter might originate from technology areas far away from those usually monitored by the verification community. Scientifically-based futures research offers several validated approaches and methodologies that can provide orientation in this complex technology landscape and help to carve out the most probable technological future developments. We suggest to include a futures-research approach in the verification debate, complementing the expert community’s findings and improving the awareness of technology-based opportunities and threats. Four different methodological approaches are described, which require specialized futurists to be exercised. The classical approach to technology foresight systematically studies appropriate scientific literature, looking for “known” and “unknown unknowns” and considering the interdependencies of the “technology complex”. Bibliometrics can, although inherently retrospective, be used to characterise and forecast research topics and scientific networks. Modern text-mining tools can be used to extract unexpected information from the internet (“web mining”), potentially uncovering “unknown unknowns”. Solution assessment by serious gaming can help to structure multi-perspective discussions.