The Convergence - An Army Mad Scientist Podcast

By The Army Mad Scientist Initiative

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The Convergence is an Army Mad Scientist podcast with a distinct focus on divergent viewpoints, a challenging of assumptions, and insights from thought leaders and subject matter experts. The purpose of "The Convergence" is to explore technological, economic, and societal trends that disrupt the operational environment and to get a diversity of opinions on the character of warfare.

Episode Date
33. Going on the Offensive in the Fight for the Future with Hon. James "Hondo" Geurts and Dr. Zachary Davis

James F. “Hondo” Geurts was designated as performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy, effective February 4, 2021. In this position, he serves as the deputy and principal assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, as well as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Management Officer for the Department of the Navy. Additionally, he oversees intelligence activities, intelligence-related activities, special access programs, critical infrastructure, and sensitive activities within the department.  Secretary Geurts previously served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)), from December 2017 to January 2021, and as the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Acquisition Executive, at MacDill Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, where he was responsible for all special operations forces acquisition, technology and logistics. He has over 30 years of extensive Joint acquisition experience and served in all levels of acquisition leadership positions including Acquisition Executive, Program Executive Officer, and Program Manager of Major Defense Acquisition Programs.  Secretary Geurts penned the Foreword to Strategic Latency Unleashed: The Role of Technology in a Revisionist Global Order and the Implications for Special Operations Force.

Dr. Zachary S. Davis is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he teaches courses on counterproliferation. He has broad experience in intelligence and national security policy and has held senior positions in the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government. Dr. Davis began his career at the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress and has served with the State Department, congressional committees, and the National Security Council. Dr. Davis was group leader for proliferation networks in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Z Program and in 2007 was senior advisor at the National Counterproliferation Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He leads the project addressing the national security implications of advanced technologies, focusing on special operations forces; authored the Introduction to Strategic Latency Unleashed: The Role of Technology in a Revisionist Global Order and the Implications for Special Operations Force; and co-edited said document.

In today’s podcast, the Undersecretary of the Navy James F. “Hondo” Geurts and Dr. Zachary S. Davis discuss Strategic Latency Unleashed: The Role of Technology in a Revisionist Global Order and the Implications for Special Operations Force and how to think radically about the future, capitalize on talent, and unleash technological convergences to out-compete and defeat our adversaries.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with them:

  • The U.S. Army should identify emerging technologies with “strategic latency,” or technologies that will change the balance of power once fully developed and deployed. While many technologies could f
Apr 15, 2021
32. Top Attack: Lessons Learned from the 2nd Nagorno-Karabakh War

COL John Antal served 30 years in the Army and has commanded combat units from platoon through regiment and served on division, corps, and multinational staffs. He also served at the National Training Center and has extensive ex­perience in Korea, serving multiple tours on the DMZ.  After retiring from the Army, COL Antal was selected by Mi­crosoft Games Studio to help develop an interactive enter­tainment company in Texas. He then became the Executive Director for Gearbox Software with studios in Texas and Can­ada. He led teams to develop multiple AAA+ video games and is an innovator in the interactive gaming and learning industry.  As an author, COL Antal has published 16 books and hundreds of magazine articles. He has served as Editor of the Armchair General magazine, and appeared on TV and the radio to discuss leadership, historical, and national security issues. He is a freelance correspondent for Euro-based Military Tech­nology (Mönch Publishing Group) and Mittler Report Verlag.

In today’s podcast, COL Antal discusses the implications of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, the psychological effects of drone warfare, and the future of maneuver. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with him:

  • U.S. success in future conflicts depends on our ability to analyze the trends found in conflicts today. By examining the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war, the United States can gain valuable insights on the future of warfare, and better respond to threats in future conflicts.

Ten lessons learned from the Second Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are:

  1. Know Yourself, Know your Enemies.  The Azeris had reviewed the underlying causes of their previous defeat at hands of the Armenian armed forces, meticulously studied their current capabilities, and adapted/incorporated new ways of warfare, enabling them to decisively win this conflict in 44 days.  Better equipment, organization, training, preparation, and leadership are key.
  2. Set the Conditions for Success before you Fight.  The Azeris had cultivated strategic relationships with both Turkey and Israel — providing them with access to sophisticated ISR and strike UAS and loitering munitions.  They also induced hesitation with Armenia’s sponsor, Russia, causing them to equivocate whether the defense of the Nagorno-Karabakh region fell within the scope of the Armenian-Russian mutual defense agreement.

  3. Strike First. The innovative use of obsolete, remotely piloted air assets to probe and force Armenian air defense radars to “light up” enabled the Azeris to then fix, target, and destroy the Armenian layered air defenses using precision weapons, granting them first mover advant
Apr 01, 2021
31. The Metaverse: Blurring Reality and Digital Lives with Cathy Hackl

Cathy Hackl is a leading tech futurist and globally recognized business leader specializing in AR, VR, and spatial computing. Ms. Hackl hosts the Future Insiders podcast and has been designated as one of LinkedIn’s Top Tech Voices.  She founded and leads the Futures Intelligence Group, a futures research and consulting firm that works with clients in tech, fashion, media, government, and defense implementing innovation strategies, strategic foresight, and emerging technologies. BigThink named Cathy “one of the top 10 most influential women in tech in 2020” and she has been called the CEO’s business guide to the metaverse.  She was included in the 2021 prestigious Thinkers50 Radar list of the 30 management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led.

In today’s podcast, Ms. Hackl discusses forecasting, the metaverse, and women in tech. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with her:

  • The world is approaching a pivotal moment for VR/AR/MR. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated adoption of these technologies, as they allow for an elevated sense of presence in a distanced physical world.

  • AR/VR technologies have extremely diverse applications, from filters on social media to the treatment of PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease. Novel applications for these technologies are in constant development, particularly as wearables like “smart glasses” proliferate in the commercial sphere.

  • Although AR/VR are frequently associated with altered visuals, other senses are increasingly incorporated into these platforms. Currently in development is AR that would allow users to focus on a single conversation amidst significant background noise.

  • As the metaverse, a digital copy of the world available in real time, is developed, the way we engage with the physical world will change. Information available to VR/AR users in various “layers” could be manipulated or controlled by actors capable of altering the available data.

  • In order to recruit future generations to technology development, it will be essential to “meet them where they are.” By identifying online platforms, interests, and values of youth, recruiters will be able to present opportunities to create meaningful change in an attractive manner.

  • The federal government’s focus on artificial intelligence has de-prioritized AR/VR. However, AR/VR are innately American technologies, and increased focus on their development could allow the United States to maintain its current advantage in the field.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of “The Convergence,” featuring an interview with COL John Antal (USA-Ret.) discussing the implications for future conflict from the Second Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, the psychological effects of drone warfare, and the future of maneuver, on 1 April 2021.

Mar 18, 2021
30. The Future of Ground Warfare with COL Scott Shaw

COL Scott Shaw commands the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG), whose mission is to provide global operational advisory support to U.S. Army forces to rapidly transfer current threat based observations and solutions to tactical and operational commanders in order to defeat emerging asymmetric threats and enhance multi-domain effectiveness.

In today’s podcast, COL Shaw discusses the future of ground warfare and the realities of combat for tomorrow’s Soldiers. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with him:

Mar 04, 2021
29. The Policy and Law of Lethal Autonomy with Michael Meier and Shawn Steene

Michael Meier is the Special Assistant to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) for Law of War Matters at Headquarters, Department of the Army.  As such, Mr. Meier serves as the law of war subject matter expert for the U.S. Army JAG Corps, advising on policy issues involving the law of war.  Mr. Meier also reviews all proposed new U.S. Army weapons and weapons systems to ensure they are consistent with U.S. international law obligations.  Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, instructing courses on the Law of Armed Conflict.  Mr. Meier is a retired JAG officer, having served in the U.S. Army for 23 years.

Shawn Steene is the Senior Force Developer for Emerging Technologies, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, where his portfolio includes Emerging Technologies and S&T, including Autonomous Weapon Systems policy and Directed Energy Weapons policy.  Prior to joining OSD Strategy & Force Development, Mr. Steene worked in OSD Space Policy, where his portfolio included Space Support (launch, satellite control, orbital debris mitigation, and rendezvous and proximity operations), as well as strategic stability and all space-related issuances (Directives, Instructions, DTMs, etc.).   He is a proclaimed Mad Scientist, having presented and served as a discussion panelist in our Frameworks (Ethics & Policy) for Autonomy on the Future Battlefield, the final webinar in our Mad Scientist Robotics and Autonomy series of virtual events.

In today’s podcast, Messrs. Meier and Steene discuss the ground truth on regulations and directives regarding lethal autonomy and what the future of autonomy might mean in a complex threat environment.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with them:

  • Current law and policy do not specifically prohibit or restrict the use of autonomous weapons. However, these systems will need to operate within the law of armed conflict and Department of Defense (DoD) directives. These restrictions entail that autonomous systems will need to be capable of distinguishing between appropriate targets and non-combatants, maintain proportionality in attacks, and undertake feasible precautions to reduce risk to civilians and protected objects
  • Ultimately, operators and human supervisors will be held responsible under laws of conflict and U.S. policy. Thus, appropriate safeguards will need to be adopted to ensure appropriate human oversight of autonomous systems. DoD directives establish guidelines for this supervision and facilitate case by case reviews of systems with autonomous capabilities. 
  • The United States is concerned with and making efforts to addr
Feb 18, 2021
28. The Next Ten Years of Tech with Eli Dourado

Eli Dourado is a senior research fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity (CGO) at Utah State University. He focuses on the hard technology and innovation needed to drive large increases in economic growth — speeding up infrastructure deployment, eliminating barriers to entrepreneurs operating in the physical world, and getting the most out of federal technology research programs. He has worked on a wide range of technology policy issues, including aviation, Internet governance, and cryptocurrency. His popular writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy, among other outlets.

In today’s podcast, Mr. Dourado discusses technology opportunities in the next decade, the economic impact of shifting technology trends, and their impact on global security.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with him:

  • According to economic statistics, technological growth has stagnated since 2005. While some claim that the economy has fully matured and further growth will be limited, others argue that there is still room for growth, but U.S. culture and complacency has prevented further growth.
  • In the next two decades, geothermal energy will have the biggest impact on economic development. Cheap, unlimited geothermal energy will enable the use of more expensive materials like silicon carbide by significantly reducing the cost to create them, produce energy without carbon emissions thus mitigating the effects of climate change, and reduce food security concerns via indoor growing models.
  • The United States is now energy independent, which could incentivize a shift away from intervention in the Middle East. Conflict in the region could still significantly impact U.S. supply chains, given Asian reliance on Middle Eastern energy flows.
  • While genetic enhancements are still decades away, brain computer interfaces (BCI) could allow soldiers to command technology at the speed of thought in the next ten years. Related bioethical concerns, while important, may also be limiting the growth of beneficial technologies.
  • Decreasing launch costs are facilitating both commercial and governmental expansion in space. High resolution earth sensing technology could soon enable a “live Google Earth,” in which viewers could watch scenarios unfold in real time (e.g., Uyghur camps), impacting social movements.
  • Augmented reality will be widely adopted by the middle of the decade. However, systems will still require the development of ‘contextua
Feb 04, 2021
27. Hybrid Threats and Liminal Warfare with Dr. David Kilcullen

David Kilcullen is Professor of Practice at the Center on the Future of War and the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University, a Senior Fellow at New America, and an author, strategist, and counterinsurgency expert. He served 25 years as an officer in the Australian Army, diplomat and policy advisor for the Australian and United States Governments, in command and operational missions (including peacekeeping, counterinsurgency and foreign internal defense) across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe.  In the United States, he was Chief Strategist in the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, and served in Iraq as Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor to General David Petraeus, before becoming Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is the author of a number of influential books including The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big OneCounterinsurgency, Out of the Mountains, and Blood Year: The Unraveling of Western Counterterrorism — based on an essay that received the Walkley Award, the Australian version of the Pulitzer Prize.  His newest book is The Dragons and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West.

In today’s podcast, Dr. Kilcullen discusses the future of conflict, changing concepts of victory, and achieving decisive advantages. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with him:

  • Different actors (state and non-state) are converging on a set of tactics:  small teams, modular, urban, use of cyber kinetics.
  • This convergence is an adaptation to US and Western dominance in a small sub-set of warfare characterized by high tech, connected, exquisite systems of systems. We describe this as conventional or regular warfare because we are the best in the world at this type of conflict.
  • These different actors are the Dragons (states) and Snakes (non-state actors). Dragons are back, but acting more like Snakes. Snakes are more capable due to the democratization of technology which makes them more lethal and capable of operating regionally and globally.
  • The War on Terror is not over, but the period of large occupations has ended. Simultaneously, the possible resurgence of Great Power Conflict means the US must be capable of fighting both near peer competitors and capable non-state actors.
  • The defining characteristics of future warfare include:
  • Liminal Warfare – Our adversaries will seek to operate below the West’s response threshold, executing covert operations that may be detected, but whose sponsorship remains cloaked and unattributed; and ambiguous actions, where both the operation and sponsor may be suspected, but remains unproven.
  • Tactical Concepts employing small teams, modular, swarming, empowered by advanced communications and (in the future) artificial intel
Jan 21, 2021
26. Changing Mindsets for the Future with Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos is the Science and Technology subject matter expert at the U.S. Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM’s) Joint Special Operations University where she is working on developing technology related education for the Special Operations Force Professional.  Previously, she was a Strategy and Innovation Advisor conducting forecasting work on technology and the future operating environment for the J5 at USSOCOM. She has addressed the United Nations member states at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts (CCW GGE) meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) and participates in NATO Science for Peace projects. Check out her website at and follow her on Twitter at

In today’s podcast, Dr. Kostopoulos discusses the future of competition and conflict and steps the Army can take in preparing for it.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with her:

  • I think about the future from a point of tech abundancy.  If you think about the availability, accessibility, and benefits of emerging technologies, you can study the flip side of this to identify the associated threats. Examples include the use of technologies by protestors or the use of drones and loitering munitions in small conflicts like Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • There is no shared reality of what competition and conflict is or will look like. In a recent speech, LTG (R) McMaster said that we needed “more strategic empathy” and “less strategic narcissism.” This isn’t about preparing for the war we want to fight because our adversaries will probably not provide us that opportunity.
  • You see this difference in the view of future warfare by studying the growing role of the cyber threat spaceOur adversaries seek to influence and attain their objectives in the competition and crisis phases via Information Operations. They are more focused on limiting our C4ISR and less on big platform conflict.
  • This threat to our C4ISR capabilities and the speed of the future battlefield means we will have to find ways to preserve decision space for our political and military leaders.
  • We need to focus on gaining a competitive advantage in situational understanding and rapidly conveying this i
Jan 07, 2021
25. Reading and Leading in the Future with Joe Byerly

In this episode of “The Convergence,” we discuss reading and its implications on leadership and forecasting, the future of command selection, and cultivating effective communicators and thinkers in the future force with LTC Joe Byerly, an active duty armor officer in the U.S. Army who has served in both conventional military and Joint assignments. In 2013, LTC Byerly started From the Green Notebook to share this thoughts on self-development — “I’m passionate about leader development and want to help others to lead with the best version of themselves. I created this site to provide a platform for leaders to help each other by sharing lessons learned. Lessons that come from our own green notebooks.”

The following bullet points highlight key insights on leadership and reading from our interview with LTC Byerly:

  • Leaders can learn and prepare for the future by reading and understanding how we got to where we are, studying economics and the social sciences, and focusing on what the classics tell us about human behavior.
  • Reading science fiction as part of our personal study program serves as a mental laboratory to push our thought and help us break from linear projection (now) into the future.
  • To understand the possibilities of the future, you have to connect disparate things and bring them together. Reading broadly and connecting these dots improves strategic thinking.
  • Ideal Soldiers in the future will love to learn, demonstrate empathy, and have the ability to fight and win.
  • Communication is a key skill for the future to describe vision and intent. A favorite quote – If the people can’t see your vision, then it is a hallucination.”
  • Talking to future Soldiers, we must convince them to own their personal development.
  • The tech that scares me the most in the future? Altering bio and genetic engineering – really, anything that makes me wear a mask for seven hours at Disney World.” [Editor’s Note: this response is similar from those of Soldiers from the 1980s when confronted with the daunting prospect of having to fight buttoned up in MOPP IV for prolonged periods of time!]

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of “The Convergence,” featuring Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos, Science and Technology (Emergent Tech) subject matter expert at the Joint Special Operations University, U.S. Special Operations Command, on 7 January 2021!


If you enjoyed this post, check out:

The Convergence: The Future of Talent and Soldiers with MAJ Delaney Brown, CPT Jay Long, and 1LT Richard Kuzma and the associated podcast

Fight Club Prepares Lt Col Maddie Novák for Cross-Dimension Manoeuvre, by proclaimed Mad Scientists LTC Arnel David, U.S. Army, and Major Aaron Moore, British Army; Dec 17, 2020

24. Bringing AI to the Joint Force with Ms. Jacqueline Tame, Ms. Alka Patel, and Dr. Jane Pinelis of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center

The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) is the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Artificial Intelligence (AI) Center of Excellence that provides a critical mass of expertise to help the Department harness the game-changing power of AI. To help operationally prepare the Department for AI, the JAIC integrates technology development with the requisite policies, knowledge, processes, and relationships to ensure long term success and scalability.

The mission of the JAIC is to transform the DoD by accelerating the delivery and adoption of AI to achieve mission impact at scale. The goal is to use AI to solve large and complex problem sets that span multiple services, then ensure the Services and Components have real-time access to ever-improving libraries of data sets and tools.

In this episode of “The Convergence” we discuss how the JAIC is bringing AI to the Joint Force (and the associated challenges!) with the following panel members:

  • Jacqueline Tame, Acting Deputy Director, Chief Performance Officer
  • Alka Patel, Head of AI Ethics Policy
  • Jane Pinelis, Chief, Testing and Evaluation, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML).

The following bullet points highlight the key insights from our interview:

Dec 03, 2020
23. Disinformation, Revisionism, and China with Doowan Lee

Today’s episode of “The Convergencepodcast features a conversation with Mr. Doowan Lee, Senior Director from Zignal Labs.  Mr. Lee is a National Security expert in influence intelligence, disinformation analysis, data analytics, network visualization, and great power competition. Before joining Zignal Labs, Mr. Lee served as a professor and principal investigator at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he executed federally funded projects on collaborative information systems, network analysis, and disinformation analysis. His article, entitled The United States Isn’t Doomed to Lose the Information Wars, explores Russian and Chinese disinformation campaigns and was featured in Foreign Policy last month.

The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with Mr. Lee:

  • Our adversaries see disinformation as just an effective tool that provides strategic and global reach. We see it as irregular warfare when it is anything but irregular.
  • Disinformation, or the historical term propaganda, has been around forever.  COVID-19 has accentuated this threat vector or surface.
  • The Chinese government outlined their national information operations policy in “The Communiqué on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere” (also known as Document #9):

–    Nations talking about the spread of open societies are attempting to undermine the CCP.

-     The CCP will maintain positive control of all media.

-    The CCP will professionalize information operations.

This policy resulted in the development of the “Great Firewall,” the “Golden Shield“ project, and the PLA’s Strategic Support Forces.

  • The CCP and the Kremlin are increasing their coordination on national security activities and, in some cases, are increasing their collaboration. This resulted in a recent joint statement that stated the two governments would work together to undermine disinformation that seeks to destabilize the Russian and Chinese governments.
  • How is our Great Competition strategy working to prevent Chinese and Russian collaboration?
  • Slaughtering the “Golden Calf”
  • Information Operations are not irregular DROP THE ADJECTIVE! There is nothing irregular about these operations and they are probably the most regular or everyday form of competition we face.


  • Embrace our doctrine. We are not using our tools such as international or bilateral exercises for advantage, while our adversaries are using these exercises, oftentimes in the same contested space, to their information advantage.
  • Stop trying to make perfect decisions. Instead, work t
Nov 12, 2020
22. The Future of Software with Maj. Rob Slaughter

In today’s podcast, Major Rob Slaughter discusses Platform One (P1), an official DoD DevSecOps Enterprise Services team.  P1’s vision is to create an innovative, collaborative, and unified Defense Department that delivers freedom through continuous software integration and deployments.  Its mission is to guide, empower, equip, and accelerate DoD program offices and weapon systems through their DevSecOps journeys by:

  • Helping to deploy mission code to the Warfighter quickly and securely.
  • Accelerating deployment capabilities by providing an 85% solution to jump start coding.
  • Providing a common code base for reusability.
  • Creating a collaborative environment to break down silos and enable government-wide cross-functionality.

The following are highlights from our interview with Major Slaughter:

  • Platform One solves two simultaneous DoD problems, usually seen as polar opposites:

– DoD systems are not secure enough.

– DoD struggles to quickly deliver software capabilities.

  • The current limitation on software is the age of our systems. The average USAF aircraft is older than our airmen.
  • The future is “everything software,” but to realize this future, we will need new hardware. An AI beat an F-16 pilot in air-to-air combat, but that same F-16 could not incorporate that AI onboard without major hardware upgrades.
  • The “everything software” future means every Soldier and Civilian should be able to write software wherever they are. The greatest immediate potential is with the new Space Force, as 100% of their fight will be through a console.
  • Mobility is an enabling trend — being able to access the necessary software tools and work with agility in any environment.
  • In this future, the #1 risk to combat systems is software.  Rapid software development and accreditation, and sharing what works across the force is critical to mission success. Platform One can be the “Easy button”– using a trusted process to mitigate risk.
  • DoD has over 100,000 software developers, which makes it one of the largest “software companies” in the world.  With all of this capability, we still have the reputation of not being able to produce fast and secure products.
  • Use of open source produced software offers a way to bring the most secure solutions to DoD.  Thousands of contributors on a software solution will always beat 50 contributors on a black box project.
  • Not all open source code is created equal.  A tipping point occurs when an open source product is not well supported or is primarily supported by known adversaries.
  • The software advantage is a future competition which will equate to battlefield advantage. We are missing a key trend — a dearth of Mandarin language proficiency could lead to an AI disadvantage for Western AI scientists who cannot keep abreast of Chinese scientific progress and breakthroughs.


Oct 29, 2020
21. The Future of Talent and Soldiers with MAJ Delaney Brown, CPT Jay Long, and 1LT Richard Kuzma

In today’s podcast, the following Army officers discuss Soldiering and talent management in the future force:

MAJ Delaney Brown is a strategist with the Army Talent Management Task Force. She has deployed in a variety of roles ranging from intelligence platoon leader to regional foreign aid coordinator and served as an Assistant Professor of American Politics in West Point’s Department of Social Sciences. MAJ Delaney holds a Bachelor of Science in Comparative Politics and Systems Engineering from the United States Military Academy and a Master of International Development Policy from Georgetown University where she used quantitative methods to evaluate the efficacy of government policies. She is currently a term member at the Council of Foreign Relations and active with the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Program.

CPT James “Jay” Long is an Army Reservist serving as an innovation officer at Joint Special Operations Command. Previously, he served in various infantry assignments on active duty and was a National Security Innovation Network Startup Innovation Fellow. He is based in Washington, DC.

1LT Richard Kuzma is a data scientist and technical program manager at the Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force, where he applies machine learning to Army problems and helps the Army build its digital workforce. Richard is an alum of the Defense Innovation Unit and the Harvard Kennedy School, where he wrote his thesis on structural changes needed to facilitate AI adoption within the Department of Defense. He is a member of the Military Writers Guild and writes about the DoD’s machine learning transformation in War on the Rocks, The U.S. Naval Institute, and The Strategy Bridge.

The following are highlights from the Podcast’s panel discussion:

  • At a fundamental level, the Army is still looking for the same future leaders:  People who find fulfillment in service, enjoy working on hard problems, learn fast, and like to work hard.
  • Future Soldiers need to be capable of learning fast; possess the emotional intelligence to rapidly build, lead, and be assimilated into effective mission-oriented teams; and have the curiosity to continually learn.
  • The Army cannot focus on specific technical knowledge. We cannot predict the tech in five years, but we know which tech competencies will be important.
  • We need to re-weight the importance of physical and intellectual skills. Culturally accepting that technical fluency might outweigh the importance of a Ranger tab is difficult.
  • Before the Army can realize the benefits of Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), we will need Commanders that understand networks, data, and workflows.
  • To paraphrase Napoleon Bonaparte — Amateurs talk tactics, masters talk logistics, and the leaders of the future will need to talk ecosystems.
  • We are facing a war for talent as the Army seeks similar technical skills as the civilian sector.
  • The Army is not effectively communicating the value proposition of serving in uniform versus working in Silicon Valley. We are not communicating what our hard problems are and allowing the talent to serve at a level where they can solve them.
  • Elite talent will leave the force if they cannot work on these hard problems and are not provided the tools (e.g., AI, big data, networks) available to them in the civilian sector.
  • The Army’s force structure management and human resources policies should allow technical and cultural experts direct entry to Army service at middle management and senior leader levels. Why shouldn’t an Amazon warehouse manager be able enter the Army as a logistics Ma
Oct 15, 2020
20. Strategic Foresight and Shifting Paradigms with Dr. Amy Zalman

Dr. Zalman is a global futurist who helps leaders and organizations explore the implications of critical global trends and prepare their organizations for transformative change. She is a part-time professor of Strategic Foresight at Georgetown University and the CEO of the foresight consultancy Prescient, LLC, which she founded in 2017 after over a decade of hands-on experience accelerating change in public, private, and non-profit organizations.  In today’s podcast, Dr. Zalman discusses forecasting and strategic foresight, paradigm shifts in thinking, and the nature versus the character of warfare:

  • Strategic foresight is a way of thinking to develop an effective strategy that is appropriate for the moment.
  • How to think like a futurist — If you can tell a compelling story that engages someone else in a shared aspiration (e.g., the American Dream), then you have a higher probability of realizing that vision.
  • The point of foresight is to avoid being surprised.  The key to marrying foresight and strategy is maintaining global situational awareness – remaining constantly vigilant and attuned to trends and events occurring around the world – and then using this knowledge to shape and affect strategically advantageous decisions.
  • Avoiding surprise is a central tenet in the Army — so why do we feel surprised after an event like COVID? Because unpredictable events with major effects are either not taken seriously or are willfully ignored; consequently, they are not factored into institutional planning.
  • Organizational culture must be receptive to discussing strategic foresight ideas that run counter to mainstream thought.
  • What are the Army and DoD missing regarding the future?  The power of the individual.  Even in Great Power Conflict, individuals are able to wield inordinate influence and shape events via their phones, cameras, drones, and global social media platforms.
  • All institutions are involved in national security, including the relationships between companies and their people.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast addressing The Future of Talent and Soldiers with CPT Jay Long, Richard Kuzma, and MAJ Delaney Brown, on 15 October 2020!

Oct 01, 2020
19. The Psychology of Terrorism and Disinformation with Dr. Aleks Nesic

In today’s podcast, Dr. Nesic discusses how humans remain at the center of great power competition — “everything else are simply mechanisms being used to influence the human element” — and how we must understand the human domain and synchronize social science in the non-kinetic, non-lethal space if we are to successfully out-compete our adversaries:

  • The Global War on Terror (GWOT) is far from over.  In the hybrid / asymmetric space, anything can be an instrument of war. We have to be realistic and understand the human element, which we do not yet fully grasp or comprehend.
  • We tend to look at technology as a problem, not at the people using the technology [with evil intent] as the problem. Advances in technology have allowed our adversaries to become disruptive anytime, anywhere. The so-called ‘technological disruption’ should be accepted as the new status quo, as a modus operandi, and no longer be viewed as something extraordinary.
  • Anthropology describes, but does not explain, the cultural lenses in the way that psychology does. Understanding the “why” of how people and groups act is important for operationalizing influence.
  • How do populations change over time? Look at the brain, the most complex organ that is still not fully understood. The brain is wired for resilience and trained for adaptation. We need to invest in the brains of our target audiences and use knowledge to build resilience against our adversaries’ bad influences.
Sep 17, 2020
18. The Art of the Future with Dr. Claire Nelson

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Dr. Claire Nelson, the Founder and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS). Per Forbes, Dr. Nelson “is a strategic thinker, change agent, keynote speaker and innovator,” and is listed among that publication’s 50 Leading Female Futurists. Dr. Nelson is also Ideation Leader of The Futures Forum and Sagient Futures LLC, which provides strategic foresight and development futures consulting. She is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the World Futures Review and The Journal of Futures Studies, and is an emerging voice as a Black Futurist.

In today’s podcast, Dr. Nelson discusses a smart futures approach to forecasting, technologies and science in small island nations, and positive impacts on the future:

  • Everything is a system. National challenges can be viewed from a systems approach by breaking them down to the sum of the parts and then adding them back up. You have to pick the right tool for the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Future technology is often presented as utopian. But we need to filter that idea through the smart futures lens. What happens when the technology fails, is compromised, or hacked? There must be forethought about the legal and ethical systems and processes. All of these aspects must be part of the framework.
  • Our brains oftentimes can’t negotiate many and varying opposing forces as mathematical equations. But if we translate engineering and mathematical concepts into a story, our minds can more readily assimilate, accept, and understand these complex concepts. Similarly, if we break complex and interconnected systems of systems down into characters in a story, we’re better able to connect with them and solve their related and intricate problems.
  • We shouldn’t blindly gather metrics for metrics’ sake. Metrics should specifically address the nature of the problems we’re trying to solve and should be tailored to the specific system that they’re measuring. The language of the transportation system will be different from the language of the military system, and they don’t necessarily cross over or translate proportionally.
  • Space is humanity’s common heritage, but there are very few concrete laws and policies in place. Access, equity, and awareness will be paramount to the future of sustainable development. Smaller and island nations will need to access this domain to monitor climate change, forecast weather, manage disasters, and ensure food and water security.
  • Small island nations can serve as a laboratory or testbed for pilot projects to showcase efficient resource and infrastructure management. With indigenous populations and significant bio-diversity, small island nations offer considerable untapped knowledge, such as thousands of years of seafaring experience from Pacific island nations or access to unique flora and fauna for pharmaceutical research.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast with Dr

Sep 03, 2020
17. Bias, Behavior, and Baseball with Keith Law

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Keith Law, Senior Baseball Writer at The Athletic, which he joined in January 2020 after spending thirteen and a half years at ESPN. Before joining in June 2006, Keith spent just over four years as the Special Assistant to the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, and prior to that had written for Baseball Prospectus. Keith Law is the author of Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball, published in April 2017; and The Inside Game: Bad Calls, Strange Moves, and What Baseball Behavior Teaches Us About Ourselves, published in April of this year.

In today’s podcast, Keith Law discusses the parallels between baseball and the Information Environment, how stats skew our thinking, and the implications of anchoring bias:

  • The brain develops cognitive biases to manage extensive information. These biases lead information consumers to draw false conclusions and ignore conflicting data.
  • Anchoring bias occurs when the brain latches onto the first piece of information, even if it is irrelevant to what you are working on.
  • Creating radical change in a large, traditional organization, like the Army or a sports team, is best done through an individualized grassroots effort. Radical change, especially from people new to the organization, does not usually “win hearts and minds.”
  • Information environments are full of persistent yet harmful beliefs. These need to be addressed, as those with these beliefs are often more aggressive about promoting their viewpoints.
  • “Credibly foolish beliefs” benefit from a "first mover" advantage. These irrational narratives are rarely challenged by peers. Once these fallacies are adopted, they are difficult to let go.
  • Data collection tools are becoming democratized, leading to individuals having more agency over information.
  • To become a better writer, future analysts should work to become better readers, especially when it comes to reading books and articles outside the genre they write in. For people with a STEM background, being able to write well provides a personal competitive advantage for future employment.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast with proclaimed Mad Scientist Dr. Claire Nelson, futurist, engineer, and activist, discussing a smart futures approach to forecasting, technologies and science in small island nations, and positive impacts on the future on 3 Sep 2020!

Aug 20, 2020
16. Political Tribalism and Cultural Disinformation with Samantha North

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Samantha North, cyber investigator and consultant, who is completing her final year of a PhD in computational social science at the University of Bath. Ms. North’s research focuses on understanding the drivers of tribalism in online political behavior, using data science methods to analyze large data sets and behavioral psychology theory to guide the interpretation. She also explores the factors that make social media users more susceptible to disinformation. Her objective is to understand what drives tribalism in online political behavior, using a mix of data science and behavioral psychology.

In today’s podcast, Samantha North discusses political tribalism online and our susceptibility to disinformation:

  • People divide themselves into groups based on their similarities. Loyalties to these tribes increases self-esteem, and requires the designation and mistreatment of an outgroup. Disinformation targets these tribal divisions and attempts to amplify them. 
  • Despite the rise of fact-checking and counter-disinformation efforts, disinformation is still extremely effective, exposing the ease with which adversaries can exploit human cognitive biases
  • Disinformation tactics mirror digital marketing strategies. Thus, marketers and psychologists will be essential to understanding and combatting disinformation
  • Conspiracy theories, like those created in local, private Facebook groups, pose a bigger dangerthan individual fake news stories, as they create real-world grassroots action
  • Incentives for social media platforms to regulate disinformation based on tribalism are growing, especially as these trends are contributing to real-world actions. 
  • The future of disinformationwill probably include rises in “disinformation for money,” deepfakes, and malinformation (true information manipulated for nefarious or misdirecting purposes). 
  • The DoD and campaigns to counter political tribalism cannot only fixate on foreign actors because there are homegrown groups also looking to inflame divisions. There must also be more of a focus on how conspiracy theories form over time, especially in small regional groups which have large grassroots impacts.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast with proclaimed Mad Scientist Keith Law, author and Senior Baseball Writer with The Athletic, discussing the parallels between baseball and the Information Environment, how stats skew our thinking, and the implications of anchoring bias on 20 Aug 2020!

Aug 06, 2020
15. U.K. Fight Club: Gaming the Future Army with LTC Arnel David and Major Aaron Moore

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with guest bloggers LTC Arnel David, U.S. Army, and Major Aaron Moore, British Army, who recently penned Fight Club Prepares Lt Col Maddie Novák for Cross-Dimension Manoeuvre — describing the nascent revolution in Professional Military Education (PME) wrought by the convergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital assistants, gaming, and Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR). Using storytelling and backcasting, LTC David and Maj Moore vividly described how Leaders will seek out and leverage these technologies to hone their warfighting skills across all dimensions, enabling them to “think, fight, learn, repeat” and enhance their versatility as innovators on the battlefield.

In today’s podcast, LTC David and Major Moore further discuss the convergence of technology and wargaming that resulted in Fight Club and how it is transforming Leader development: 

  • Fight Club designs realistic wargames to remove hierarchies and encourage players to attempt innovative solutions, while also creating a safe environment to fail repeatedly and learn from mistakes.
  • These games replicate expensive training through a virtual setting, and harness younger generations’ aptitude for technology and virtual networking. The virtual setting also allows Fight Club to better connect players of different backgrounds, making the gaming more available and accessible.
  • The DoD should implement more gaming in training. Wargaming can be effective in more frequent, smaller-scale games to increase Service members’ exposure to these types of decision making.
  • Wargaming helps the Army and its international partners increase interoperability without having to run large-scale, time-compressed exercises.
  • Gaming will allow the military to push innovation and will continue to attract younger generations who thrive in interactive environments. The competitive nature of gaming can inspire action and push people to develop more creative and effective solutions.
Jul 23, 2020
14. The Next Iteration of Warfare with Lisa Kaplan

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Lisa Kaplan, who founded Alethea Group to help organizations navigate the new digital reality and protect themselves against disinformation. Ms. Kaplan served as digital director for Senator Angus King’s 2018 campaign, where she designed and executed a strategy to identify, understand, and respond to disinformation. She is one of the few people who has firsthand experience combating disinformation on the campaign trail. Ms. Kaplan has also briefed US, NATO, EU, and G-7 policy makers and officials on disinformation. Previously, she consulted with PwC for the U.S. State Department, and served as a U.S. Senate aide.

In this episode, we talk with Ms. Kaplan about weaponized information as a national security problem, algorithmic silos created by social media, and disinformation as the next iteration of warfare. Some of the highlights from our interview include the following:

  • Disinformation is a national security problem manifesting itself in politics. Open source information can be leveraged to create effective digital strategies to counter this rapidly-proliferating threat.
  • Social media algorithms create algorithmic silos: personal echo chambers that create individual realities for users. This method of platform retention is creating more polarized information spaces. Algorithms will continue to get stronger over time, increasing the impact of this problem.
  • Disinformation will become the next iteration of warfare, as it is comparatively inexpensive and easy to use. Bad actors can leverage algorithmic silos to target their disinformation to vulnerable populations. As a result, the government should identify vulnerable populations and develop support plans.
  • The proliferation of fringe and conspiracy media outlets will make it difficult to know which information to trust. We should begin examining the long term impacts for children growing up in this environment, particularly in relation to their feelings towards U.S. competitors.
  • We are all targets of disinformation, so we can all combat it. Thinking before you share, reading critically, searching for the right sources/authors, and avoiding sensationalized media can reduce the impact of disinformation. Remember, you are likely a trusted source to those around you.
  • Conversations about disinformation trends are an important part of combating this threat. The U.S. Government has unmatched capacity to address disinformation, but needs to work towards legislation that will allow it to act in this space.

 Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast with LTC Arnel David, U.S. Army, and Maj Aaron Moore, British Army, as they discuss Fight Club, the current revolution in Professional Military Education, and the role of Artificial Intelligence in future military operations on 23 July 2020!

Jul 09, 2020
13. Innovating Innovation with Molly Cain

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Molly Cain, founder of GovCity, the Nation’s first disruption and culture accelerator focused on government, civic, and culture change. Molly works at the intersection of technology and cultural disruption with broad ranging expertise in industry, startups, and helping the Federal Government tap into innovation with greater ambition and more visibility.

In this episode, we talk with Ms. Cain about leadership, barriers to youth in government service, and rewarding disruption. Some of the highlights from our interview include the following:

  • GovCity is a hackathon-style think tank that promotes collaboration, innovation, and disruptive thinking through 48-hour events. These events give people a safe space to share innovative ideas and have disruptive conversations.
  • Government leaders should trust themselves in uncomfortable situations, and allow their teammates to make mistakes as they strive for innovation.
  • There are lots of similarities between the government and private sectors. DoD can better harness this relationship by focusing more on learning about the local business ecosystem and collaboration with their partners. Private companies hoping to work with DoD should use sources like LinkedIn and Twitter to start conversations on departmental innovation.
  • People who communicate and cross-index well are valuable in every workspace.
  • Government employees should constantly send internship and job opportunities to young applicants, and eschew government jargon to make jobs more appealing to the next generation of innovators. Young people should seek to find the right boss, as well as the right job, so they can fully participate in their work.
  • The government should innovate their promotion process by promoting more leaders who have made difficult or disruptive decisions rather than those who have “toed the line.”

 Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast with Lisa Kaplan, founder of the Alethea Group, addressing weaponized information as a national security problem, algorithmic silos created by social media, and disinformation as the next iteration of warfare on 9 July 2020!

Jun 25, 2020
12. True Lies: The Fight Against Disinformation with Cindy Otis

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Cindy Otis, a disinformation expert specializing in election security, digital investigations, and messaging. She is a non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Prior to joining the private sector, she spent a decade as a CIA officer, serving as an intelligence analyst, briefer, and manager. Her regional expertise includes Europe and the Middle East. Ms. Otis is the author of the forthcoming book True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News, to be published on July 28, 2020 by Macmillan Publishers.

In this episode, we discuss the role of technology in accelerating the spread of disinformation; its increasing use by state, non-state, and commercial actors; and the vital role an educated population has in implementing effective intervention tactics and counter-measures. Some of the highlights from our interview include the following:

• Disinformation and propaganda have been a part of the information landscape for a long time, but the current news focus sometimes creates a misconception that it is a new phenomenon. The tools and tactics that organizations use might change with the creation of new media, but the patterns and messages are the same throughout the historical context.

• Because fake news and disinformation are not new phenomena, there are actions that can be taken to defend against it and people can be armed against it. People should feel hopeful that there are actions they themselves can take to become a first line of defense against fake news.

• People should also have a feeling of responsibility that they are part of the solution in being more conscientious about what information they consume and what they share.

• The number of players involved in creating, disseminating, and amplifying disinformation will keep increasing as countries and groups see how effective and successful others currently are at using disinformation as a tool or weapon.

• More foreign governments will be getting involved, but commercial entities will also move into the space as “disinformation-for-hire” with troll farms and black PR firms.

• Most organizations, from DoD to non-profits, are similar in that they do not have a deep enough capability to look at the issue of disinformation. There need to be far more people trained in disinformation investigation and analysis.

• Disinformation investigation often looks for the same trends and patterns from previous years, while disinformation actors have learned from those trends and become ever more sophisticated.

• We need to pay more attention to the actual solutions of how we minimize the risk of disinformation with different intervention tactics, instead of only looking for current threat actors and trends.

• Education plays a huge role in defending against disinformation, especially with organizations providing training to both consumers and journalists to consider information and use OSINT tools.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next podcast with Molly Cain (founder of GovCity, former DHS Director of Venture, and entrepreneurship expert) addressing talent management, leadership, and innovation on 25 June 2020!

Jun 11, 2020
11. AI Across the Enterprise with Rob Albritton

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Rob Albritton, Senior Director and AI Practice Lead at Octo Consulting Group. A former U.S. Army Geospatial Research Lab Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer at MITRE, Rob spent several years growing NVIDIA’s public sector team alongside the world’s foremost thought leaders on high-performance computing, AI, and deep learning. Rob now leads Octo’s oLabs AI Center of Excellence, where he guides and shapes Octo’s AI capability, strategy, and vision.

In this episode, we discuss a realistic vision of the future of AI, its integration into the DoD, and what the Government can learn from the private sector. Some of the highlights include the following:

  • Academics and industry tend to overestimate the readiness of effective AI, although real progress may occur at a rate faster than we expect.
  • DoD can learn data best practices from industry and apply it to unique DoD practices. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, but each AI challenge should still be tackled in a unique way.
  • AI publications have slowed, although we are not necessarily nearing an “AI winter.” Innovative applications for deep learning are still being discovered, and there is still significant academic interest in AI and profit to be made in the field.
  • DoD focuses on the tech industry as a hub for AI talent, but this rhetoric may actually deter talent from working with the DoD. The military should consider a “greening” process to encourage young talent to connect with the military on AI applications.
  • The DoD should promote its relationship with the AI industry by emphasizing transparency in its AI development and its use of “AI for good.”
  • S. Soldiers are likely to encounter fully autonomous weapons systems on the battlefield. DoD should research ways to jam or deceive these systems, rather than compete in autonomous weapons, since U.S. ethical regulations are likely to continue to limit the development and use of fully autonomous lethal systems.
  • Current rhetoric emphasizes AI competition with adversaries, particularly in relation to competition with China. While the United States’ adversaries are developing AI, the United States maintains the most creative and innovative culture with regard to AI development.

 Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory, as our next podcast with Cindy Otis, former CIA officer, national security commentator, disinformation and cybersecurity expert, and author of TRUE OR FALSE: A CIA ANALYST’S GUIDE TO SPOTTING FAKE NEWS, will be posted on 11 June 2020!

May 28, 2020
10. Beyond Space with Kara Cunzeman

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Kara Cunzeman, Lead Futurist for Strategic Foresight, with the Center for Space Policy and Strategy, at The Aerospace Corporation. In this role, Ms. Cunzeman is focused on cultivating a formalized approach to futures thinking through the strategic foresight Corporate Strategic Initiative (CSI), helping the enterprise adequately prepare its organizations and capabilities to proactively shape the future through innovative approaches across strategy, acquisition, science and technology portfolio management, policy, and operations.

In this episode, we discuss strategic foresight, the future of space research, public-private partnerships, and advice for the next generation of engineers. Some of the highlights include:

  • How we must conceptualize the use of space is rapidly evolving and it requires dynamic and innovative thinking to keep up with an expanding range of possibilities and competition in space.
  • Strategic foresight practitioners aren’t usually valued until something unusual happens that mainstream thinking hadn’t considered. We can’t predict, but we can prepare, and having foresight helps us alleviate pains and tensions in society when something unexpected happens.
  • We try to keep pace with strategic competitors in space, which is hard to do in the gray zone of modern warfare. Speed will be our security, requiring us to modularize technical efforts and eliminate bureaucracy and red tape.
  • The phrase “keeping at pace” sounds reactionary. The real question is how do we develop and execute our own vision while precluding our competitors from dictating our agenda?
  • While it may seem counter-intuitive, the Government can actually take risks where private industry cannot. Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the National Security community need to engage with each other more. This collaboration will yield the greatest possible outcome.

If you enjoyed this post and podcast, check out:

May 14, 2020
9. COVID-19 and the Future of Bio-Security with Dr. James Giordano

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Dr. James Giordano, of the Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Giordano is the author of over 300 papers, 7 books, 21 book chapters, and 20 government white papers on brain science, national defense and ethics.

In this episode, we break down the COVID-19 virus, the effect this pandemic has on the Nation, the impact on national security, and the potential implications on future bio-security. Highlights from the conversation include:

  • This is an interesting virus in its evolution. It adapted from a mammalian species, a bat, to an intermediate species, to a human as many viruses will tend to do. I think what’s important to make available and understandable to the listening audience is that there is the likelihood that this will continue to occur and occur with some increasing frequency.
  • On Ecological Intrusion - Humans are spreading into a variety of different niches that heretofore were primarily simply occupied by animal species and the extent of human-animal interaction is increasing. As well, environmental factors such as global warming and climate change may also precipitate the shift from animal interactions with humans to more direct interactions and may also cultivate the generation and perhaps evolution of a variety of different microbial species.
  • On state and non-state actors using bio-weapons in the future….But one of the things that keeps coming up over and again irrespective of whether there’s a neurological function or there’s a non-neurological target, is the increasing ease at which organisms might modifiable through the use of currently available and developing gene-editing techniques.
  • If I were an actor, or if I were working for a nation state, and I really didn’t care what I created, as long as I created something that might be disruptive, well then what happens there is you’re stacking the deck. So what we’re trying to use CRISPR for, and these other gene editing tools and techniques, is again directed or intentional modification towards n products of organisms that we understand what they’re going to be, what they’re going to do, and we’re trying to modify them in selective ways towards particular trajectories of structure and function.
  • But if what I’m really trying to do is just create an organism that would be more infectious, transmissible, pathogenic… I really necessarily wouldn’t care what it is I created, only that I created something that had the necessary characteristics that I was then looking to implement.
  • One of the things that we’re suggesting and the drum that we’re proverbially beating is that these types of gene editing techniques, not only taken alone, but in concert with other viable techniques and tools of the bio and life sciences are something of a game changer when it comes to the viability or possibility of developing novel or new biological organisms that may have pathological features that could be leveraged as agents of disruption and/or destruction. In other words, weaopnizing those things.
  • We’re not really existing in a uniform environment of ethical universality. Different cultures have different histories, different philosophies, different needs, different values, and as a consequence, different ethics. Ethics is always about the effort or about the enterprise or about the environment in which it’s going to be used.
  • For years there has been very explicit talk of bio-security gaps and or inadequacies at a number of levels within the various chains of structure and function across the levels of government and that this represented if not an Achilles heel, certainly a point of en
Apr 30, 2020
8. Gen Z and the OE with William and Mary PIPS Part 2

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we continue our discussions with research fellows from The College of William and Mary’s Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS). PIPS is one of the premier undergraduate think tanks in the country. Based at W&M’s Global Research Institute, PIPS is designed to bridge the gap between the academic and foreign policy communities in the area of undergraduate education. PIPS research fellows identify emerging international security issues and develop original policy recommendations to address those challenges. Undergraduate fellows have the chance to work with practitioners in the military and intelligence communities, and they present their work to policy officials and scholars at a year-end symposium in Washington, DC.

In this episode, we discuss how our adversaries are employing technology-enabled disinformation campaigns, what China’s strategic export of its surveillance state means for the future of the internet, and the challenges posed by weaponized deepfakes with Lincoln Zaleski, Michaela Flemming, and Megan Hogan. Highlights from the conversation include:

  • Liberal democracies are vulnerable to information warfare, and our adversaries are leveraging technological advances to more precisely target us via multiple axes. The U.S. should learn how Russia strategizes and executes its disinformation campaigns, and in turn target their vulnerabilities to raise the social and political costs for engaging us in that sphere.
  • China is exporting its surveillance state, and cultivating client states that support its concept of cyber sovereignty — the right to control and police the internet according to its own laws. This digital authoritarianism represents a challenge to liberal democratic states, as the world becomes increasingly polarized between a China-centric bloc of digital authoritarian-influenced countries and a US-centric bloc of nations supporting a free and open internet.
  • The proliferation of weaponized deepfakes will result in more intense and convincing disinformation campaigns targeting the US. Algorithms generating deepfakes are continuously evolving and learning how to replicate the appearance of reality, challenging detection teams that are constantly “playing catch-up” with their new permutations.

If you enjoyed this post and podcast, check out our GEN Z and the OE event page on the Mad Scientist APAN site to read each of the PIPS research fellows’ abstracts…

… watch Panel 1 and Panel 2 as they discuss the ramifications of their research on the OE and the changing character of warfare…

… and listen to Part 1 of this podcast here.

Apr 16, 2020
7. Gen Z and the OE with William and Mary PIPS Part 1

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk to research fellows from The College of William and Mary’s Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS). PIPS is one of the premier undergraduate think tanks in the country. Based at W&M’s Global Research Institute, PIPS is designed to bridge the gap between the academic and foreign policy communities in the area of undergraduate education. PIPS research fellows identify emerging international security issues and develop original policy recommendations to address those challenges. Undergraduate fellows have the chance to work with practitioners in the military and intelligence communities, and they present their work to policy officials and scholars at a year-end symposium in Washington, DC.

In this episode, we discuss biotechnology, artificial intelligence in the DoD, and authoritarianism affecting the U.S. with Marie Murphy, Clara Waterman, Caroline Duckworth, and Katherine Armstrong. Highlights from the conversation include:

  • The US can be outcompeted in certain biotechnologies and become dependent on other countries for their access. States with different ethical standards and regulations compared to the United States could more quickly pursue and adopt these technologies, possibly resulting in novel bioweapons. Eventually, bioweapons will be able to target people based on their genetic code. Biotechnology is becoming a democratized technology.
  • Data is the most critical component of artificial intelligence. However, much of the DoD’s data is inaccessible in stovepiped repositories, while that which is accessible has not been vetted — you don’t really know who’s had it or where it’s coming from. There is also a huge gap between those who are technically informed and those who are technically literate.
  • Transnational authoritarianism is the targeting of co-ethnics and co-nationals; for the United States, these co-ethnic and co-national targets are US citizens and residents. The U.S. government and the public need to recognize this phenomenon, which has often been overlooked as isolated incidents, as cybercrime, as a civil society issue, and as infighting between outsiders.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory, as we will be releasing Part 2 of this podcast with the PIPS research fellows next week!

If you enjoyed this post and podcast, check out our GEN Z and the OE event page on the Mad Scientist APAN site to read each of the PIPS research fellows’ abstracts…

… and watch Panel 1 and Panel 2 as they discuss the ramifications of their research on the OE and the changing character of warfare.

Apr 09, 2020
6. Intelligent Battlefield of the Future with Dr. Alexander Kott

In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk to Dr. Alexander Kott, Chief Scientist for the Army Research Lab (ARL). In this role, he provides leadership in development of ARL’s technical strategy, maintaining the technical quality of ARL research, and representing ARL to the external technical community.

In this episode, we discuss the Internet of Battlefield Things and modernizing the Army.

Highlights from the conversation include:

  • The battlefield is becoming saturated with devices that can do computation, some kind of thinking, and can communicate. These are not just things the Army owns.
  • Complexity can actually be a good thing. Being able to “hide” on the battlefield is a good thing and we can hide in the complexity of the Internet of Battlefield Things.
  • The battlefield of the future will be populated by multiple intelligent species. Humans will be very important but just one among them. How do humans co-exist with those intelligent species? We humans are not known for working and living well with other species, not even ourselves.
  • The Army (and larger Department of Defense) has a collaborative relationship with industry that is actually beneficial. It is not just a competition for talent but rather a relationship that is a strength. A rising tide lifts all our boats.
  • Every war has seen greater and greater ranges in magnitudes from the Civil War up to the Global War on Terrorism. In the future we may see an Army missile that could be intercontinental. We could see artillery “spanning a fraction of the globe.” This leads to global ground warfare and changes the battlefield calculus. Such a shift in warfare could change the Army’s relationship with other services and actualize the reality of multi-domain operations even more.
  • Regimes that are unethical, immoral, and authoritarian lose the technological edge in the long run because as they run out of ways to use technologies they have developed for unethical and immoral purposes, they do not have thorough investment in other technology areas where the United States is excelling.
  • Long-range, intelligent, precision fires may be a major threat to our Homeland in the future. The Homeland may not be as defensible as it has been for centuries.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory as we will be releasing a new podcast every other week with exciting and impactful guests — next up:  The College of William and Mary’s Project for International Peace and Security Fellows!

Mar 26, 2020
5. Deterrence and the New Intelligence with Zachery Tyson Brown

In the fifth episode of “The Convergence” we talk to Zachery Tyson Brown, who is an Army veteran, analyst, consultant for the DoD, and Security fellow at the Truman National Security Project. Zach is a career intelligence officer now working at the intersection of emerging technologies, organizational structures, and strategic competition. Zach is most recently a graduate of the National Intelligence University, where his thesis, Adaptive Intelligence for an Age of Uncertainty, was awarded the LTC Michael D. Kuszewski Award for Outstanding Thesis on Operations-Intelligence Partnership.

In this episode, we discuss conflict and competition, how to create intelligence from the onslaught of data, and structural and process changes to the Intelligence Community (IC).

Highlights from the conversation:

We have all this data that the IC collects. We spend billions of dollars on it every year, and a lot of it is left on the cutting room floor.

We have a clog in the system that gets worse as the amount of information out there keeps increasing and we still have this outdated mechanism of deliverywe can’t keep pace with the volume of information that’s growing out there every day.

The amount of data out there is going to very rapidly, probably already has, eclipse the ability of un-augmented humans to keep up with it.

I really think we have to disaggregate that whole system. Move about to a federated sort of network architecture. Push autonomy down to the units at the forward edge of the battle area.

We’re not focusing on that competition aspect involving the whole of government to use another buzzword. The commerce, treasury, state department. Because that information space is where the competition is happening today and it’s not just information it’s manipulation of public awareness and psychology.

Now we have ISIS propagandists, the guys on Twitter that are like recruiting or spreading messages, and those guys are targets of kinetic strikes now because they’re considered to be combatants in that information space.

One of the reasons, again, where I think we have to rethink this whole structure of the way we do interagency coordination, decision making at the national level, [is] because it’s too slow to keep up with the pace of emergent threats today.

I really believe we are living through a revolutionary era and we have to question all the assumptions we’ve kind of inherited from the past couple hundred years.

Mar 12, 2020
4. The Language of AI with Michael Kanaan

In this episode, we talk with Michael Kanaan, Director of Operations for U.S. Air Force and MIT Artificial Intelligence. Following his graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy he was the Officer in Charge of a $75 million hyperspectral mission at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, and then the Assistant Director of Operations for the 417-member Geospatial Intelligence Squadron. Prior to his current role, Michael was the National Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise Lead for an 1,800-member enterprise responsible for data discovery, intelligence analysis, and targeting development against ISIS, and most recently the Co-Chair of Artificial Intelligence for the U.S. Air Force.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the impact of AI on the armed forces, how we identify and cultivate talent, and the challenges that arise.

Highlights from the conversation:

AI is multidisciplinary. I’m not a computer scientist. The barriers to education have never been lower. You can teach yourself these kinds of things. And it’s what you do with AI that’s the real question. But make no mistake, I think the future rock stars in the AI sphere are most certainly sociologists and psychologists.

Why don’t we treat programming languages as the equivalence to as the equivalent to foreign language aptitude and proficiency? We have a long history of doing this in the DoD. In fact if you bring that skillset into the DoD, we cherish it, we try to cultivate it the best we can. Well, why aren’t we doing that with computer languages?

We need to team the techniques of the old with the ideas of the new. Experience is not dictated by age any longer. You can’t fall back and say, ‘well because I’ve done this for so long, I know about AI.’

It’s not supervising. We want to do this all transparently, very openly. So we published the Air Force AI strategy unclassified. So why we did it in principles was it’s not supervision. It’s not telling you how to get there, it’s providing and environment to get there. That’s the kind of flip in the digital age.

Feb 27, 2020
3. Modernizing the Future Army with LTG Eric Wesley

In this latest episode, we talk to LTG Eric Wesley, who is currently serving as the Director of the Futures and Concepts Center in Army Futures Command at Fort Eustis, VA. General Wesley has served in numerous operational units throughout his 34 year career and served as a staff officer and director at the Pentagon and White House. Prior to taking over the Futures and Concepts Center, General Wesley was the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia. We talked to General Wesley in this episode about multi-domain operations, modernization, and the future Army.

Feb 13, 2020
Margarita Konaev

The second episode of The Convergence features Dr. Margarita Konaev, Research Fellow at Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET).  Dr. Konaev is an expert in Russian military innovation in emerging technologies and her research on international security, armed conflict, non-state actors and urban warfare in the Middle East, Russia, and Eurasia has been published by the Journal of Global Security Studies, Conflict Management and Peace Science, the French Institute of International Relations, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Lawfare, War on the Rocks, Modern War Institute, Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a range of other outlets.

Previously, she was a Non-Resident Fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point, a post-doctoral fellow at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. Before joining CSET, Dr. Konaev worked as a Senior Principal in the Marketing and Communication practice at Gartner. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University, and a B.A. from Brandeis University. In this episode. Dr. Konaev provides her opinions on the role of technology in warfare, autonomous systems in the military, the ethical questions that arise, and the importance of diversity. 

Jan 30, 2020
Sean McFate

The first episode of The Convergence features Dr. Sean McFate, foreign policy expert, author, and novelist. Dr. McFate is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank, and a professor of strategy at the National Defense University and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Additionally, he serves as an Advisor to Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. Dr. McFate's newest book is The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder, which was picked by The Economist as one of their best books of 2019. On the episode, Dr. McFate provides his opinions on the changing character of warfare, the rise of private military contractors, information warfare, and the effects these trends will have on the operational environment.

Jan 15, 2020