The Influence Of Emerging And Disruptive Technologies On Export Controls

Conquer the complexity
What Are Emerging And Disruptive Technologies (EDTs)?

Emerging technologies are those in the early stages of development. They have the potential to significantly impact industries or society by delivering substantial enhancements in the performance and efficiency of systems and processes. These technologies may not be fully realized or widely adopted yet, but they show promise for future applications. For instance, the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) has empowered businesses to analyze vast datasets at unprecedented speeds, transforming decision-making processes. Edge computing has brought computation and data storage closer to the source of data generation (e.g., IoT devices) rather than relying on a centralized cloud-based system.

On the other hand, disruptive technologies are more impactful. They significantly alter an existing market, displacing established technologies and business models. They often introduce a new way of doing things that can render existing products or services obsolete.

Both emerging and disruptive technologies are often at the center of regulators’ attention as they impact society, security, and economic considerations. For instance, the EU recently published a list of technology areas considered highly likely to present the most sensitive and immediate risks related to technology security and leakage. They comprise a total of 10 categories, each with precise examples.

Technology Area

Advanced Semiconductors Technologies

Examples of Technology
  • ​Microelectronics, including processors
  • Photonics (including high energy laser) technologies
  • High frequency chips
  • Semiconductor manufacturing equipment at very advanced node sizes

Artificial Intelligence Technologies

  • High-Performance Computing
  • Cloud and edge computing
  • Data analytics technologies
  • Computer vision, language processing, object recognition

Quantum Technologies

  • Quantum computing
  • Quantum cryptography
  • Quantum communications
  • Quantum sensing and radar


  • Techniques of genetic modification
  • New genomic techniques
  • Gene-drive Synthetic biology

Advanced Connectivity, Navigation And Digital Technologies

  • Secure digital communications and connectivity, such as RAN & Open RAN (Radio Access Network) and 6G
  • Cyber security technologies incl. cybersurveillance, security and intrusion systems, digital forensics
  • Internet of Things and Virtual Reality
  • Distributed ledger and digital identity technologies
  • Guidance, navigation and control technologies, including avionics and marine positioning

Advanced Sensing Technologies

  • Electro-optical, radar, chemical, biological, radiation and distributed sensing
  • Magnetometers, magnetic gradiometers
  • Underwater electric field sensors
  • Gravity meters and gradiometers

Space & Propulsion Technologies

  • Dedicated space-focused technologies, ranging from component to system level
  • Space surveillance and Earth observation technologies
  • Space positioning, navigation and timing (PNT)
  • Secure communications including Low Earth Orbit (LEO) connectivity
  • Propulsion technologies, including hypersonics and components for military use

Energy Technologies

  • Nuclear fusion technologies, reactors and power generation, radiological conversion/enrichment/recycling technologies
  • Hydrogen and new fuels
  • Net-zero technologies, including photovoltaics
  • Smart grids and energy storage, batteries

Robotics And Autonomous Systems

  • Drones and vehicles (air, land, surface and underwater)
  • Robots and robot-controlled precision systems
  • Exoskeletons
  • AI-enabled systems

Advanced Materials, Manufacturing And Recycling Technologies

  • Technologies for nanomaterials, smart materials, advanced ceramic materials, stealth materials, safe and sustainable by design materials
  • Additive manufacturing, including in the field
  • Digital controlled micro-precision manufacturing and small-scale laser machining/welding
  • Technologies for extraction, processing and recycling of critical raw materials (including hydrometallurgical extraction, bioleaching, nanotechnology-based filtration, electrochemical processing and black mass)
The Impact Of Emerging Technologies On Export Controls

As mentioned at the beginning, one of the attributes of EDTs is the provision of substantial enhancements in the performance and efficiency of systems and processes. These enhancements are critical for export controls, as the regulations heavily rely on the technical characteristics of a product to determine its suitability for controls. The descriptions of dual-use codes can sometimes go into incredible detail to mitigate diversion risks or potential human rights violations more efficiently.

Given the EDT’s potential to advance civil and military domains, there are more and more risks for civil and military fusion. In practice, it will make the product classification process more complex and technical. In this realm, 3D printing stands out as a compelling example. As 3D printers become increasingly adept at manufacturing critical components, such as those found in airplane engines, a pertinent question arises in export control: does the production method influence the classification of a product? Consider, for instance, the classification of drones—would a traditionally manufactured drone and its 3D-printed counterpart fall under the same classification code?

This raises intriguing considerations for export control regulations. The advent of advanced manufacturing technologies, mainly 3D printing, introduces complexity in the classification process. Traditional and 3D-printed versions of the same product may differ in their physical attributes and the precision of their production methods. The question then becomes whether such distinctions should be considered when determining the appropriate export control classification.

Furthermore, with 3D printing and additive manufacturing, items that were once mass-produced and easily categorized may now have unique specifications that make their classification and control more nuanced.

What Can Be Done About It On The Regulatory Side?

Identification and monitoring of these technologies would be the first step. Based on the list of technologies shared by the EU, one can identify those not yet covered by the export control lists or covered only partially, particularly at the component level. Detecting these technologies is complex, as each section of the control lists would require a technical expert in the field.

Then, the items not yet covered need to undergo an assessment by regulators, especially concerning their complexity, flexibility, and overall exposure to export control risks. Based on the conclusions reached, lawmakers can review their export control lists or adapt their export control regulations. In addition to considering risk exposure, this process is likely to assess states’ strategic interests and national security concerns.

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