The Outlook Of Emerging Technologies - by Lt Kol Dr. Nizlan bin Mohamed

-31st May 2021-


The emerging technologies have certainly given a diverse paradigm in defence and security issues within regional and across the global arena. As a result of the uncertainties at the regional and global challenges, the international strategic landscape is intertwining including emerging technologies are becoming more complex and unpredictable. Emerging Technologies include a diversity of technologies such as information and educational technologies, nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, the internet of things (IoT), cyber security, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and others. The development of these technologies has the potential to undermine regional stability and global peace in the long run. However, despite these challenges in the security environment, emerging technologies have also provided Malaysia with a unique perspective to seek opportunities in enhancing ASEAN centrality and beyond the Asia Pacific region.


The significance of conceptualising and governing the linkage between human security implications and emerging technologies towards the defence and security issues is essential. The focus of this article will be on the attributes of the cyber security field, artificial intelligence and other disruptions of information security which are eminent especially concerning the defence, security and safety of a nation and the region. The nexus between human security, cyber security realms and artificial intelligence certainly poses major concern with regards to defence implications and how this reflects towards the ASEAN community and beyond.

As such, no one in the field of cyber security and environmental has suggested that cyber security is an important tool for economic development, but at the same time, the target of cyber threats to critical infrastructure from defence perspectives has become extra critical given the harsh environmental conditions and vast distances.
This implies the need to create a plan at the intersection between emerging technologies such as cyber security, artificial intelligence and harsh environmental conditions. In this new way of thinking, the environment, cyber security and critical infrastructure interact with social and human security determinants. Cyber security needs to be reconceptualised from the green perspectives that link it to environmental considerations to ensuring sustainability regarding both environmental and human security issues as well as a healthy, stable global ecosystem.

Both the concept of sustainable development and environmental law principles can offer research areas to analyse the cyber security of critical infrastructures exposed to environmental conditions. The connection between sustainability and emerging technologies is based on the need for social and economic progress and sustainable defence development in civil society.

The attributes of cyber-attacks are certainly formidable. Cyber-attack is asymmetric warfare from the military perspective. The ability of cyber-attacks to reach the desired targets in the defence structure without the need for mass deployment of troops, delivery vehicles or weapons, or foreign bases, coupled with its sheer velocity represents a new dimension to military warfare that could dramatically increase the need for immediate and possibly risky decision making by governments under attack.

Digital and computer-induced failures of national infrastructures could cause massive physical damage, intricate scourge and economic disruption. The military strength of a nation ultimately depends on its economic vitality, so cyber vulnerabilities could erode both the nation’s military effectiveness and its competitiveness in the global economy if the attacks are pervasive and persistent.

From Malaysia's standpoint, the enormous impact of cyber-attacks on the military may cause the exploitation of vulnerabilities in military cyber systems that could result in weapons blueprint, operational plans and surveillance data being compromised, which could seriously undermine national security.

Another aspect of emerging technologies, as mentioned above is, AI which is a trend enabling and boosting further development within many technology fields, significantly those involving various degrees of automated intelligence assessments. Advancements in AI can greatly benefit areas such as predictive analytics, autonomous systems, or the quest for electromagnetic dominance in all time frames. Moreover, AI technology will provide a bridging function between other technologies, widening their area of applicability. Much the same applies to topics such as autonomous systems, sensors and quantum technologies.

Progressions here could end up greatly increasing the speed at which other areas develop, with major potential for innovation and radical change in interaction. To illustrate, autonomous swarms of unmanned systems, provided with new sensor technology and artificial intelligence (machine learning) support for guidance and analysis of large amounts of data, could grant an actor vastly superior real-time situational awareness in a future operating environment.

Undoubtedly, from my perspective, it is observed that there is no consensus to better understand the emerging technologies through an interdisciplinary study of how best to coordinate these systems and integrate with the environmental and human security threats, especially from the defence perspectives. The application of risk assessment that focuses on human and information security is certainly lacking.


A legal framework of the emerging technologies in the ASEAN community and the Asia Pacific needs to be enunciated because of its crucial role in the development of economic, military and security issues. These developments have a strong influence and interconnectedness towards understanding the concept of defence and security implications. Thus, the law and policy framework should be formulated to enable comprehensive emerging technologies measures undertaken within its realm.

It is suggested that the Armed Forces within regional can consider synergizing and collaborating with other government departments/agencies, NGO’s and the private sector (including defence contractors) to enable a whole-of-nation cyber security strategy in tandem with the environment and human security perspectives. This can be done by embarking in the following areas:
⦁ Cyber Security Governance and Practices
⦁ Cyber Security and Cyber Attacks in Research, Training and Awareness Program
⦁ Cyber Security Implementation Programme

Another significant aspect of the emergence of technology development is convergence. In the context of defence and security, convergence refers to the synergistic combination of two or more technology trends, each of which in its development may be progressing at a considerable rate, thus reinforcing each other to expand the applicability of their specific technologies and change the military operations set up. Thus, from the aspect of the ASEAN and the Asia Pacific region, this mechanism is not visible to be associated and may further be explored from the strategic ASEAN platform forum.

The unprecedented threats such as COVID-19 require drastic actions by the government to mitigate the environmental and human security threats. Consequently, these challenges can be translated into human security threats once there is a failure or disruption in the health, defence, economic and education system to operate effectively. Thorough research and continuous empirical studies need to be conducted within this perimeter and shared among ASEAN countries and the Asia Pacific region.

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