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American Military-Technological Superiority in the Age of Cyber Espionage, Globalization and of the Rise of China



Andrea Gilli, CISAC

Date and Time

March 23, 2017 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Encina Hall, 2nd floor

Abstract: How easily and quickly can states rise in the military domain? Do industrial espionage and in particular cyber-espionage facilitate and accelerate this process? In other words, are there empirical and theoretical reasons to believe that other states can easily imitate U.S. advanced weapon systems and thus erode American military- technological superiority? Drawing from the literature in economic history, economics, management and sociology, we maintain that the dramatic increase in the complexity of military technology that has taken place over the past 150 years has led to a change in the system of production, which in turn has made the imitation and the replication of the performance of military technology more difficult - despite globalization and advances in communications. As a result, developing advanced weapon systems has become significantly more challenging. We test our theory on a set of crucial case studies addressing possible cofounders. The available evidence supports our account. Our findings reassure about the threat of cyber-espionage, the role of globalization in armaments production and rise of China for American military-technological superiority. 

About the Speaker: Dr. Andrea Gilli is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. He holds a PhD in Social and Political Science from the European University Institute (EUI) in Fiesole, and in 2015 he was awarded the European Defence Agency and Egmont Institute’s bi-annual prize for the best dissertation on European defense, security and strategy. Andrea’s research focuses on change in military technology and its implications for international security. At CISAC, he is working on the consequences of the robotics revolutions for American military primacy. In the past, Andrea provided consulting services to both private and public organizations, and worked or was associated with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Preparatory Commission for the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the NATO Defense College, the Royal United Services Institute, the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University, the European Union Institute for Security Studies, the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies at the Columbia University in New York and the Center for Security Studies at Metropolitan University Prague. Andrea has published articles on suicide terrorism, the diffusion of drone warfare and defense policy more in general in Security Studies, The RUSI Journal, and Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, among others.

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