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Sir John Sawers exclusive – view his lecture on technology and security


“Can we stop what happened in Paris happening in London – yes, most of the time”

Sir John Sawers, former Chief of MI6 and Nottingham alumnus, tackled a range of serious topics this week as part of his insightful Chancellor’s Lecture on the relationships between technology, security and freedom. As we face the most serious terrorist threat to date, crisis amongst nation states and an exponentially developing technological revolution, hear from one of Britain’s leading authorities on the realities we must face as modern societies. 

“Technologies that empower us also empower our enemies” 

Therein, noted Sir John as he spoke, lies one of the key challenges that security agencies and governments face in tackling the evolving threat of terrorism while working to guarantee the rights and freedoms of the citizens they protect. Terrorists are using technology to change their methods and targets, so we must change the way we defend ourselves. But how does this interact with the duel demands of citizens for maximum security and maximum privacy in their relationship with technology?  

Sir John shared his thoughts on the pressure placed on governments in dealing with these challenges, the crucial role technology companies have to play in world security, and the hard choices we must make as modern democracies.     

“I think the Iraq War was a case of overreach by the West”

Following his speech, Sir John reflected on a variety of topics and gave candid responses to questions from our alumni audience ranging from his opinion on the invasion of Iraq, how we should approach the current refugee crisis in Europe, being the first Briton to meet Nelson Mandela after his release from prison, and preparing Ralph Fiennes for his role in recent Bond film Spectre. 

Discover Sir John’s responses to these questions and hear his remarks on a range of security issues, legislation and the threats facing the world today by viewing his full lecture below. 

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Posted on Friday 27th November 2015

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