Synthetic Biology / 21st Century Borders
The economic prosperity, security, and geopolitical stability of 21st century societies increasingly involve the effective monitoring and control of national, regional, and international borders. Such issues extend beyond physical borders to include boundaries and barriers defined by legal, regulatory, and cultural factors. Obviously these issues vary widely among countries. Since science and technology (S&T) are often critical to how effectively borders, boundaries, and barriers are monitored and controlled, it is essential to accurately determine how policy is influenced by these rapid S&T advances.
S&T advances now routinely originate throughout domestic and international research communities and pertain not only to existing S&T, but also to the emerging and “at-the-horizon” S&T being used in a wide range of circumstances and environments. While daunting, the challenges to both recognize short-term S&T opportunities and anticipate those emerging and at-the-horizon scientific achievements that foreshadow transformational advantages or risks (surprises) are now fundamental governmental responsibilities.
The effective use of S&T advances to secure physical borders, as well as effectively identify boundaries and barriers, relies on how accurately and timely the realistic opportunities and risks are communicated from the subject-matter experts worldwide to those societal and governmental leaders responsible for making major policy decisions. None of these S&T advances are more important than those that improve the monitoring and control of diseases, materials, and information.