Ahead Of The Curve: Anticipating Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues Posed by Emerging Weapons Technologies
April 22-23, 2014

University of Notre Dame
Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom, Eck Hall of Law

Click here to see videos from the conference

NAS Conference image

"Ahead of the Curve" will provide a forum to discuss the "action-oriented" chapters of the soon-to-be-released National Academy of Science's report, "Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security." The report was commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in order to begin a discussion about the conduct and applications of research on military technology as well as their unforseen and inadvertant consequences. Speakers will include members of the NAS committee that wrote the report, along with distinguished experts on the ethics, law, and social impacts of new weapons technologies and representatives of agencies and organizations that are home to cutting-edge weapons research. Presentations will address the ethical, legal, and societal issues that policy makers, researchers, and industries need to anticipate as new technologies arise, specifically in fields such as robotics, autonomous systems, prosthetics and human enhancement, cyber weapons, information warfare technologies, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology. Our primary goal is to help government agencies, institutions, and researchers grow the expertise necessary for early and continuing engagement with the ethical, legal, and societal implications of new weapons technologies as they are planned and developed. We also aim to generate a broad public audience for the NAS report, this being an area in which public education is necessary, as is elevating the level of factually well-informed, public discourse.

Click here for the conference program.


Download the conference poster here.
Purchase or download for free the NAS report here.
E-mail us at aheadofthecurveND@gmail.com with any questions.

The conference is sponsored and hosted by Notre Dame’s Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, with co-sponsorship from the Notre Dame School of Law, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and the Notre Dame International Security Program.

Conference program

Monday Evening - April 21

Opening Reception (by invitation only)
Location: Morris Inn, Salon A

(All regular sessions will be held in the McCartan Courtroom in the Eck Hall of Law)

Tuesday - April 22



(Chair: Don Howard, Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, Notre Dame)


(Chair: Michael Desch, Notre Dame International Security Program and Department of Political Science) 

12:00 - 13:30: Lunch break

13:30: Panel of Committee Members and Report Consumers

(Moderator: Gerard Powers, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Notre Dame)

15:00: Synthetic Biology 

(Chair: Carolyn Nordstrom, Department of Anthropology, Notre Dame)

16:30: Cyberconflict

(Chair: Mary Ellen O’Connell, Law School, Notre Dame)

19:00 Banquet for invited conference participants and guests

Wednesday - April 23

9:00: Drones

(Chair: Charles Pence, History and Philosophy of Science, Notre Dame)


(Chair: Justin Biddle, School of Public Policy, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study)

12:00 - 13:30: Lunch break


(Chair: Melinda Gormley, Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, Notre Dame)

Cancelled due to travel issues. A discussion panel will take place during this time slot. 


(Chair: Edward Jurkowitz, Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, Notre Dame)


(Chair: Don Howard, Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, Notre Dame)

19:00: Informal dinner for invited conference participants
           Quinn Family Room, Morris Inn