About the Institute for Security and Technology

Outpacing Emerging Global Security Risks

The Institute for Security and Technology builds solutions to enhance the security of the global commons. Our goal is to provide the tools and insights needed for companies and governments to outpace emerging global security threats. Our non-traditional approach has a bias towards action, as we build trust across domains, provide unprecedented access, and deliver and implement solutions. Our portfolio consists of three pillars that offer an integrated approach to solving them: the Policy Lab, the Tech Works, and the Network for Global Security.

In the Policy Lab, cutting edge research and analysis produces policy recommendations and implementation strategies on emerging global security issues – with a bias towards action all the way through. From cybersecurity and information warfare; the impact of technology on democracy and human security; nuclear security; to the role that machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies play in shaping national security policy – we examine, analyze, and provide recommendations to both policy makers and technology leaders by understanding the intricacies of the intersection between tech and the national security community. 

Through our Tech Works, we create tangible solutions out of the analysis and recommendations from the Policy Lab, by actually bringing both the national security and technology community together to prototype, ideate, and spin out technical solutions to solve these complex challenges. 

None of this works without the extensive networks we rely on and bring to the table – and that is why our third pillar is the Network for Global Security. We exist to force disparate communities to engage. We convene the different and oh so similar national security and technology communities in order to provide physical, virtual, and trustworthy spaces to come together to solve these wicked challenges.

Vision

The innovation ecosystem is effectively empowered to promote global security

Mission

To solve emerging security threats by creating a bridge between technology and policy leaders

Values

  • Transparency and Honesty
  • Passion and Perseverance
  • Diversity and Risk
  • Trust and Accountability

  • So often the solutions already exist, it is just that the policy and technical experts don’t connect. That’s where we come in. We know everybody. And if something new is needed – we can make that happen, too.”

    Philip Reiner Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Security and Technology
  • IST creates the space to convene the best of the best across industry, government, and civil society.”

    Alexa Wehsener Research and Operations Manager, Institute for Security and Technology
  • IST is a place where policy, technologists, venture capitalists, and civil society can come together in one space and solve wicked national security problems.”

    Vera Zakem Senior Technology and Policy Advisor
  • IST has allowed me to research at the cutting edge of emerging defense technologies. The team, projects, and partnerships here are the reasons that such great research can be done.”

    Leah Walker Defense Technology Associate

IST Timeline

The Journey

A group of business leaders in the Bay Area who believe in citizen-driven change grow tired of attending meetings, hearing about global risk, writing checks, and seeing nothing change. These original founders of IST decide to reduce global security risks through more effective engagement with technology leaders. Little did we know how extensive the problem really was.

2015 / An Idea

These Bay Area leaders conceive of an organization committed to four principles: 1) deriving bottom-up and citizen-driven solutions; 2) focusing deeply on a broad range of technical and security challenges; 3) inspiring a new generation of tech-savvy national security professionals, and 4) collaborating with international partners. Technology for Global Security is born.

2016 / Inception

The founders engage international, Capitol Hill, and tech leadership, armed only with a fervent desire to bridge technologists and national security policymakers, a 501(c)3 status, and the willingness to pound the pavement and take risks.

2016 / Initiation

The founders are inspired to focus initial efforts on crowd-sourced solutions to nuclear weapons testing verification, decreasing the risks of nuclear terrorism, and understanding the national security risks posed by deep learning. We embrace failing fast – while we learn, shift gears, and grow stronger from it.

2017 / Gardening

The first projects highlighting the intrinsic value of the Tech4GS approach take root, expanding from nuclear weapons to focus more broadly on artificial intelligence (with a16z and Cooley support) and cybersecurity.

2017 / Vision

The vision comes clear: companies and governments need a trusted interlocutor that understands the tech and the right players in both worlds. We begin to tackle challenges through efforts to combat threats like DDoS and identifying areas for greater public-private collaboration. Efforts continue to engage the local community on nuclear risks and raise awareness.

2018 / Building

Our convictions bear fruit: we see the need to build bridges between the AI and national security worlds, convene network security operators to examine problems we can help solve, and also identify how these risks converge. How, for example, could deep learning make nuclear competition less stable and increase the risk of nuclear war? Did you think social media could spark a nuclear war? Neither did we.

2019 / Impact

With a new multi-year strategic plan in hand, our efforts begin to show impact. The four star Commander of U.S. Strategic Command takes part. Former Secretaries of State. We establish a new baseline for understanding the risks of emerging technology for nuclear command and control systems.

2019 / Maturing

Tapping into extensive networks in Silicon Valley and Washington D.C., the team delves deeper into how deep learning could play out on the battlefield, brings together policy makers and cyber professionals for multiple wargames, and continues to delve into how cyber risks undermine critical national systems.

2020 / Problems

Technological innovation once drove policy, but that reality has flipped. Disruption creates unanticipated risks. We work with partners to identify Future Digital Threats to Democracy and spin up the beginnings of a “technology works” with the CATALINK secure communications system to keep outpacing the algorithms.

2020 / The Institute for Security and Technology

The world is being remade right in front of our eyes. Technological developments continue to move faster than policymakers and bureaucracies. Pandemics rip across borders, while data play a growing role in everything from warfare to policing to racial bias in national security. The Institute for Security and Technology is born.