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Dual-use technologies

Dual-use technologies – the main points

Dual-use technologies are technologies that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. These are technologies that have the potential to be used in a wide range of industries, such as medicine, agriculture, energy, transportation and communications, as well as for military purposes.

Dual-use technology transfer works in both directions; technologies can be transferred from military to civilian applications and vice versa, and civilian developments can be useful for military purposes.

There are several technological areas whose products most often fall into the class of dual-use technologies. These areas have a significant impact on both civilian and military applications. 

Most often, dual-use technologies appear in the following areas:

Artificial intelligence (AI): Artificial intelligence technologies are increasingly used in many industries, including healthcare, transportation, finance, and defence. However, AI can also be used for a variety of military purposes, such as autonomous weapons, surveillance, and other military applications.

Advanced materials: Advanced materials include nanotechnology, graphene, and other materials with unique properties that have potential in a wide range of applications. At the same time, the same materials can be used for military purposes, such as the development of new weapons and defence systems.

Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity technologies are used to protect computer systems and networks from unauthorized access, theft, and damage. These technologies are essential for ensuring the safety and security of confidential information, but are also actively used for cyber espionage, cyberattacks and other malicious activities.

Biotechnology: Biotechnology includes genetic engineering, synthetic biology, and other methods for manipulating biological organisms or systems. These technologies have the potential to improve medicine, agriculture, and environmental sustainability, but can also be used for bioterrorism, biological warfare, and other means of harm.

Space technologies: Space technology includes many different types of satellites that can be used for communication and navigation, as well as for intelligence and defence. While space technology brings many benefits for civilian use, it is also critical for military surveillance, reconnaissance and communications.

Nuclear technologies: Nuclear technology is used for both peaceful purposes, such as energy production and medical applications, and for military purposes, such as nuclear weapons.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): UAVs are used for a variety of civilian purposes, such as crop monitoring, mapping, and delivery of goods. However, they can also be used for military purposes, such as reconnaissance and precision strikes.

The use of dual-use technologies raises important ethical and security issues. Governments and organizations should carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits of these technologies and implement appropriate rules and safeguards to minimize the risks of misuse or unintended consequences.

Dual-use goods are subject to stricter export controls, and most states develop special export rules and conditions for such goods.

Sources of the European Commission on dual-use technologies

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