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Executive Summary

Speakers were of the view that Emerging technologies are still in development and evolution phase; thus, it is very difficult to ascertain their full implications at this stage. The debate about emerging technologies is futuristic. It is hard to put all emerging technologies in one cohesive group but they fall under one single category because of their cost, high barriers to entry and long development timelines, from fundamental research to usable capability in military terms. Any other typology of emerging technology must otherwise rest on the objectives and means of any given country. Emerging technologies does not mean same thing for an emerging or frontier market economy aspiring to be a regional or middle power than it does for the world technology’s leaders or for the states that have strategic reach in global systems. Certain emerging technologies are dubbed as “disruptive technologies” because of their potential to pose serious challenges to survivability of offensive strategic forces, nuclear command, control, communications and intelligence systems. These technologies accelerate or escalate the crisis instability by increasing the uncertainty. Innovative combinations of mature and widely available civilian technologies for military purposes signifies that emerging technologies are not just about the “what” but also the “how” and the “when” of the innovation. In last two decades the triangle between technology, economy and defense has tightened under the effects of genuine technological innovations but also because of the strategic competition primarily between the US and China and because of the coalition of willing. Such coalition allows these alliances to tap deep into global capital pools and determines which companies and countries would take the lead. States go beyond dual use technologies to acquire purpose made technologies for national security purposes only, even when such technologies with security first objective are pursued they are complemented by the secondary civilian applications for purposes of economic cost sharing, deception or ambiguity. Nuclear technology although old technology in itself is still relatively new to South Asia 25 years on. Discussion of nuclear-armed submarines, maneuverable reentry vehicles or ballistic missile defense are reflective of emerging technologies back in 1970’s in the US-Russia-China context, it is still an issue and competitive domain for India and Pakistan. In case of Pakistan and India national security drives the process of learning and relearning rather than emerging technologies. For defense and security outlook for emerging technologies in South Asia, sufficiency and affordability are paramount. In next decade some of the focus in the South Asia will be on space-based capabilities and uses, which will be led by the India. But much of the Pakistan-India strategic deterrence and operations will hinge on more traditional air and sea power especially with developments in nuclear deterrence in the maritime domain. Promises to perpetuate defense capabilities and doctrine asymmetries, with emerging technologies being both party of a problem but also part of a solution particularly for India, the temptation to simply raise the salience of nuclear weapons as a simplistic response to emerging technologies induced other complexities, and is not a real world policy option. AI displacing the human factor in nuclear weapons related decision making in South Asia for quite some years is not possible. But AI and deep fakes could play a negative role in distorting the perceptions of escalation in future crises. Moreover, it is not possible that countries would change their nuclear doctrines in haste as a result, especially in South Asia. More research is needed in to the data and facts of emerging technologies related capabilities in South and Southern Asia. Also what is the role of these technologies in shaping current and future threat perceptions and also how they combine to enhance and undermine stability and therefore conventional and nuclear strategy?