The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
Mark Gubrud is a physicist and adjunct professor in the Peace, War, and Defense curriculum at the University of North Carolina. He did his doctoral work in low-temperature and nanoscale experimental physics at the University of Maryland, and was a postdoctoral research associate in Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security.
Hypersonic missile technology, if it ever matures, will enable quick strikes over long distances. But critics say that hypersonics are destabilizing—for example, they could be used to attack nuclear installations or could be mistaken for nuclear-armed missiles.
The author argues that hypersonic missiles, if they are deployed, would poison international relations, escalate an arms race, and increase the risk of war—but all of that could be avoided if a hypersonic test ban were instituted.
The Defense Department's policy for autonomy in weapon systems may appear to reflect caution, but it allows the Pentagon to fund, test, buy, and use technology that could target and kill by machine decision.