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Audrey Kurth Cronin - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Audrey Kurth Cronin

Trustees Professor of Security and Technology Director, Carnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology | Carnegie Mellon University


Audrey Kurth Cronin's research explores how governments and private actors use accessible technologies.


Audrey Kurth Cronin is the Trustees Professor of Security and Technology Director of the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology. She is the award-winning author of Power to the People (Oxford University Press, 2020) and How Terrorism Ends (Princeton University Press 2009). Her research explores how governments and private actors use accessible technologies such as robotics, cyber weapons, additive manufacturing (“3-D printing”), synthetic biology, autonomous systems, and various forms of artificial intelligence. She analyzes why some lethal technologies spread (and others do not), which ones to focus on, and how to prevent individuals and private groups from adapting them for malevolent ends. She also focuses on military technological innovation, especially the contrast between 20th century military innovation and the far more rapid innovation and diffusion driven by commercial actors today.

Areas of Expertise (4)

National and International Security

Technology and Security



Media Appearances (9)

Open Source Technology and Public-Private Innovation are the Key to Ukraine's Strategic Resilience | Commentary

War on the Rocks  online


Ukraine’s rapid public-private technological innovation under fire has been the most remarkable characteristic of the war and a key reason for the country’s survival. Ukrainians were well prepared before the war to resist Russian psychological warfare and employ accessible technologies in novel ways. The Ukrainian government’s strength has been its ability to mobilize all of Ukrainian society and much of the world, then fight asymmetrically with superior public will, supported by fast-moving private technology companies and open source innovation.

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Audrey Kurth Cronin To Lead Carnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology

Carnegie Mellon University  online


“I am excited and honored to be directing this major university initiative, building on Carnegie Mellon University’s strengths in emerging technologies, and tying them to in-depth analyses of their wise use in national and international security,” Cronin said. “Our goal is to focus on building cross-disciplinary bridges — to reduce risks, maximize benefits and make our brilliant technologies a force for good in the world.”

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United States and China are taking opposite approaches to AI | Opinion

Fox News  online


China and the United States are taking opposite approaches to governing artificial intelligence, and the contrast has big implications for both their global competition and the safety of their citizens.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene's Antifa Plan Trashed by Counter-Terrorism Experts

Newsweek  online


Professor Audrey Kurth Cronin, an expert in international security at Carnegie Mellon University, made a similar point. "There is no legal mechanism for designating a US-based domestic group as 'terrorist.' There are many mechanisms for labeling foreign groups and actors but none for US domestic groups," Cronin told Newsweek.

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War in the Digital Age, With Audrey Kurth Cronin

Council on Foreign Relations  online


Audrey Kurth Cronin, distinguished professor at American University’s School of International Service and founding director of the Center for Security, Innovation and New Technology, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how technology, innovation, and social media are shaping Russia’s war in Ukraine and what it might mean for the future.

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Could Ukraine become Neutral Like Switzerland? Five things to know. Neutral Countries Today are Nonaligned—and Well-Armed | Analysis

The Washington Post  online


The Russian invasion of Ukraine has countless pathways for escalation. The humanitarian situation deteriorates hourly, and Russian military challenges, including low morale, are likely to make the conflict worse. Are there any possible off-ramps?

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The great realignment: Russia’s invasion leaves few sitting on the fence | Opinion

The Hill  online


A month ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping proclaimed a “new era” in international relations. Their joint statement declared a “no limits” Sino-Russian entente would be at the vanguard of global realignment. They never anticipated such rapid change would follow, mostly at their expense.

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The Nashville Bombing and Threats to Critical Infrastructure: We Saw this Coming

War on the Rocks  online


If fear of 5G technology proves to be the motive for the Christmas-Day bombing in Nashville, Tennessee, no one should be surprised. The pandemic has accelerated awareness of digital technologies and given individuals, groups, and state proxies room to agitate. One result is a heightened link between violence and technology — both attacks against technology (e.g., anti-5G, anti-vaccination, anarcho-primitivism) and attacks exploiting technology (e.g., armed quadcopters, additive manufacturing, the ‘Internet of Things’). Regardless of how the Nashville bombing comes out, authorities need to strengthen their ability to meet anti-technology attacks on our vulnerable critical infrastructure, especially by looking close to home.

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We are living in an age of lethal empowerment | Opinion

The Globe and Mail  online


In February, 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen killed 10 people in a mass shooting in Hanau, Germany. It was an attack that demonstrated how online platforms join up neo-Nazis, incels (“involuntary celibates”), racists, xenophobes and conspiracy theorists into a global movement that appeals to weak-minded individuals. Mr. Rathjen left behind paranoid texts, a website, and an English-language YouTube video espousing white supremacism, calling for genocide and claiming secret mind-readers were controlling him.

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CMU Experts: Audrey Cronin November 11, 2019: Audrey Kurth Cronin Audrey Kurth Cronin: Counterterrorism Won’t Work Against ISIS 20210324 Full Committee Hearing: “Extremism in the Armed Forces”



Industry Expertise (4)



International Affairs

Government Relations

Accomplishments (3)

Neave Book Prize, Airey Neave Trust (professional)


Finalist, Lionel Gelber Award (professional)


Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research, Creative Activity and Other Professional Contributions, School of International Service, American University (professional)


Education (3)

Oxford University (Marshall Scholar): D.Phil., International Relations

Oxford University: M.Phil., International Relations

Princeton University: A.B., Public and International Affairs

Affiliations (9)

  • The Council on Foreign Relations : Lifetime Member
  • American Historical Association : Member
  • The American Political Science Association : Member
  • The International Institute for Strategic Studies : Member
  • The International Studies Association : Member
  • Political Studies Association (UK) : Member
  • Phi Beta Kappa : Member
  • Society for the History of Technology : Member
  • Women in International Security : Member

Event Appearances (2)

The Future of War Conference

(2022)  Amsterdam

The Causes and Consequences of War: A Conversation with Professor Hew Strachan –

(2022) Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology and Hudson Institute  

Articles (3)

How Private Tech Companies Are Reshaping Great Power Competition

The Kissinger Center Papers

2023 Big Tech is changing great power competition and may well decide the outcome. Yet many observers treat the role of large technology companies as if it were an afterthought to the military contest between China, Russia, and the United States. Major tech companies such as Alibaba, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, and Tencent are geopolitical actors with more resources and power than most nation-states. Even with post-pandemic cutbacks, commercial tech companies are altering who succeeds and who fails in conflict, in the war in Ukraine and beyond.

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US Counter-terrorism: Moving Beyond Global Counter-insurgency to Strongpoint Defence

Global Politics and Strategy

2021 What should the future of US counter-terrorism policy be? This article reviews American strategic successes and mistakes of the past 20 years, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drifting objectives, public intolerance of risk and a misguided counter-insurgency approach to counter-terrorism all yielded an undifferentiated global campaign of attrition that the United States could never win. As the years passed, tactics eclipsed strategic thinking altogether. Meanwhile, the impact of digital technology, a resurgent right-wing threat and rising major powers such as Russia and China altered the global context and required new thinking.

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Technology and Strategic Surprise: Adapting to an Era of Open Innovation


2020 Technological revolutions affecting state power are either open or closed. The precursor to the digital age is not the twentieth century, with state-controlled programs yielding nuclear weapons, but the late nineteenth century, when tinkerers invented the radio, airplane, and high explosives—all crucial to subsequent wars. To avoid strategic surprise, the US government must take a broader view of how today’s open innovation is changing society and adapt.

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