Where do you personally take more risk than necessary?
Everywhere (laughs)! I’m going to Bangladesh tomorrow, which is quite risky in the current situation.
I tend to underestimate the risks of doing things I’m familiar with, like eating, drinking and smoking, while I exaggerate the risks of doing things I’m not used to.
Myriam Dunn Cavelty
: As someone doing research in cybersecurity, I know the risks of online activities. But I still use social media and shop online. Having insurance makes this risk more acceptable.
What do we actually mean by security?
Security is always related to something that’s threatened. If there were no threat, we wouldn’t have to think about security. As a political scientist, I investigate what collective values are threatened when we talk about security and how different actors interpret those threats.
Giovanni, as an engineer, do you define security differently?
Not differently, but I would add that security implies protection from possible losses if something goes wrong. So there’s an element of risk and uncertainty involved too.
How has the notion of security changed since the end of the Cold War?
During the Cold War, we believed we knew what threats we had to defend ourselves against. That has changed. We’re now a lot more uncertain about what the most important threats are. In addition, before 1989, the idea that national borders could protect us against threats from outside was more widespread; the aim of security policy was to protect and defend. Since then, the world has become more interdependent, complex and uncertain. We now focus more on risk management and critical infrastructure. We’ve had to accept that we can never fully protect ourselves against all risks. The concept of resilience has taken centre stage.
The notion of security has broadened since the end of the Cold War. We no longer confine it to military security; it also encompasses economic, social and environmental aspects. As a result, in providing security, the state depends on the cooperation of the private sector, civil society, international partners and organisations. Just think about climate change, terrorism or cybersecurity. The most important threats cannot be resolved unilaterally by any single country. International cooperation is crucial here, but increasingly difficult to sustain in a more fragmented world.