February 9, 2023

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The Legal System

Science and technology as a tool of power: An appraisal

Science and technology as a tool of power: An appraisal

This Perspective examines the UK Government’s ambition to use science and technology (S&T) as a tool of power and an integral part of the national security strategy, as stated in the 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The commentary highlights the authors’ reflections on critical enablers for a successful realisation of this ambition, including conceptual, practical and financial levers.

First, this commentary considers how, from a conceptual perspective, the objectives and boundaries surrounding the concept of ‘S&T superpower’ will need to be fleshed out to give the term a unified meaning that can bring together relevant stakeholders and guide implementation. Second, the authors reflect on the fact that, from a practical perspective, the UK government will need to marshal a cohesive S&T strategy and put in place effective policy levers to deliver it. Third, the authors argue that, from a financial perspective, and given its finite resources, the UK government will need to rely on an integrated approach to S&T investments that coheres public and private actors, and nurtures collaborative international partnerships in pursuit of scientific excellence and technological capability, despite barriers to cooperation.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Europe.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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