This event is co-sponsored by Security in Context and the Middle East Policy Forum at The George Washington University.
Ties between the financial sector and the weapons industry are not new. The very first venture capital firm in the US was founded to profit from new technologies developed for use in WWII, and the role of military spending in turning Silicon Valley into a tech hub is well documented. But the rapid proliferation in the number of VC and private equity firms investing in weapons and intelligence technologies is a more recent phenomenon. Firms like Veritas Capital, Civitas Group, and Paladin Capital specialize in steering more private capital into weapons development and pushing tech start-ups to develop military applications for their products. And it isn’t just startups. Many large funds have divisions that combine the marquee names and government contacts of high-ranking military and national security retirees alongside asset managers who use their rolodexes of wealthy clients to raise capital for new defense-tech investments.
Will this surge of private investment in weapons technologies divert scarce resources from addressing other urgent problems? Will it fast track the development of high tech systems like robotic weapons controlled via artificial intelligence that pose serious risks of automated killing outside of human control? And will it cement an alliance between the Pentagon, arms makers, and Silicon Valley that could supersize the military-industrial complex and bring it unprecedented influence?
To address these questions and more, join us for a discussion featuring Shana Marshall, associate director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at The George Washington University, Edward Ongweso Jr, finance editor at Logic(s) magazine, Jonathan Guyer, senior foreign policy writer at Vox, and Madison Lipson, research analyst at Swaps Monitor Publications. William Hartung, senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute, will moderate.
The discussion will take place on Wednesday, September 27th from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT.