In 2016, the US President stated that the danger of a terrorist group obtaining and using a nuclear weapon was “one of the greatest threats to global security”. This briefing provides an overview of the key threats to nuclear security, and of UK and international initiatives that seek to address them.
The UK space industry had a turnover of £11.8bn in 2012/13.1 By 2030, the UK Government and industry want this to grow to £40bn. In December 2015 the Government published the UK’s first National Space Policy, which sets out its vision for achieving growth. This POSTnote describes the UK space industry and potential barriers to growth.
Automated technology is increasingly used in military activities such as intelligence gathering, navigation and weapons delivery. The most widespread use of automated technology to date has been remotely piloted air systems. However, each of the main military domains – air, land and sea – make use of automation. This POSTnote outlines current and potential future applications of automation in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and in combat. It then summarises debate over legal, ethical and societal issues, including debate over whether a pre-emptive ban is needed on future lethal autonomous weapons systems.
This note focuses on policy drivers leading towards 2020 and beyond. It looks at the relationship between UK policy and the following drivers: people (demographics), technological change, climate change, resource security and sustainability, inequality, and governance issues.
A very small proportion of websites use sophisticated anonymity systems, which allow their operators to conceal their identity if they wish to. This part of the web is commonly referred to as the darknet. The darknet helps citizens to protect their security and privacy and to circumvent censorship. It also facilitate organised crime, such as the billion dollar drug market known as Silk Road. This POSTnote discusses the challenge of preventing such crimes without compromising the other uses of anonymity technologies.
Population projections inform policy formulation across a wide range of areas. While short-term projections are generally reliable, longer-term figures are subject to ever greater uncertainties. This POSTnote examines the sources of these uncertainties and explores projection methods which aim to take them into account.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) underpin many aspects of modern living, so for the 10 million disabled people in the UK access to ICT is an important factor in their quality of life. This POSTnote summarises the issues that disabled people face in using ICT and looks at progress towards achieving equivalent access to services for disabled and non-disabled users.
In the last 10 years, over 500,000 people have lost their lives and around 1.5 billion people have been adversely affected due to rapid-onset natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunami, floods and tropical storms. This briefing discusses the potential for science and technology to enhance resilience to such hazards in developing nations.
The internet has transformed the nature of scientific research, opening up new ways to collect, use and disseminate scientific information. This has led to increased demand for access to such information. Open Access (OA) to scientific journal publications means making them freely available online, rather than charging readers to view them. OA to research data means making research data more widely available for re-use by others to support research, innovation and wider public use.
Solar power has the potential to provide low carbon electricity and to generate employment. This POSTnote discusses the development of solar power in the UK and summarises debate over feed-in tariffs - financial support policies introduced in 2010 to stimulate take-up.
Cyber security refers to defences against electronic attacks launched via computer systems. This POSTnote looks at approaches to cyber security in the context of large-scale attacks, with a focus on national infrastructure.