We must govern emerging
technologies and guard
against existential risks.

We are at an especially fragile moment in history. The last decade has seen breathtaking advances in a range of emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence to nanotechnology and biotechnology. Technologies like these have the potential to broadly improve human health and well-being, but they also pose existential risks if not governed wisely.

Currently, our ability to misuse technology greatly exceeds our ability to govern it. RAND must address this asymmetry and help develop a robust method for governing during a time of transformational technological change.

Key themes for this priority


Previously unrealized economic, educational, social, health, and environmental benefits are imminent. At the same time, new technologies threaten to disrupt existing institutions and pose risks that are difficult to assess but potentially serious. Existing frameworks for understanding the implications and applications of new technologies no longer necessarily apply, and new ones are needed to assess risks and rewards.


Just as technology advancements continue to increase in size and scope, so do their impact on society. In Pardee RAND’s Tech + Narrative Lab, students, RAND researchers, and outside collaborators can apply new and emerging technologies to study policy problems, understand their consequences for communities and society, and create novel solutions.


Technological change is coming much faster than our ability to understand what opportunities these technologies afford. How do we regulate technology effectively given the speed of innovation? Proactive mechanisms are needed to positively shape and regulate the evolution of technology in ways that address any inequitable or harmful effects.


With advances in technology, threats to our lives and livelihoods are emerging from more and more sources. New tools can be used to create lethal pathogens, novel cyber weapons, or disinformation attacks on a massive scale. Robust methods are needed to detect new weapons, protect information, and guard against threats to national security.