Dr. Audrey Cronin - "U.S. Military Innovation for the Digital Age"

Dr. Audrey Cronin -

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[Music] today's seminar i'm taylor fravil known i think to everyone in this room as the director of the program it's my real honor and pleasure today to introduce audrey cronin who comes to us from the school of international service where she's taught since uh 2016 and has been honored as a distinguished professor there in 2021 she's the founding director of the center for security innovation and new technology at american university and she's had a sort of a wonderful career that's combined with academic positions as well as work in government um she previously taught at the national war college where she was a sort of the director of the core course on war and statecraft before that she's the academic director of studies uh over in oxford at the changing character of war program that's associated with netfield college and is well known to many of us here previous prior to that she was a specialist in terrorism at the congressional research service uh responsible for advising members of congress uh in the aftermath of 9 11. which is also served in the executive branch including in the office of the secretary of defense of her policy but beyond all of that she's also an author of many books um her best known book is how terrorism ends understanding uh the decline and demise of terrorist campaigns which was published by princeton university press in 2017. the new yorker called it a landmark study and her most recent book power to the people how open technological innovation is arming tomorrow's terrorists was published by oxford university press last year and it won uh the airy neve international prize for the most significant original relevant and uh practically valuable contribution understanding of terrorism and so i'm really delighted to welcome you audrey and she's going to speak to us today on u.s military innovation in the digital

age welcome thank you i'm going to take this off speaking to our diaper um right i guess you know this is the first time i will have spoken in person it's a little bit of feedback all right uh in a long time and you know i haven't been to cambridge in a while so i thought why not it's so beautiful this time i'm here so here i am in the middle of a gale and happy to be here so i am going to be talking to you about innovation but also about some of the themes from my last book so those of you who have read the book will recognize is there something i need to do differently because it's definitely doing some feedback okay maybe it's just me making it crazy is that better for you how's that right i think that's a lot better okay it's still a little feedback but um yeah well i'll let you worry about it um but i'm sorry um so anyway i was going to say this is going to draw on some of the themes from my book but it'll be less focused on terrorism than it is on the innovation part so if you've read the book it has basically as i was saying to taylor three different parts and the first part is more theoretical it's about innovation the second part is case studies i'll skip over those very quickly um and then that's where all the data is so you know if you're data geek and you want to hear about that we can talk about in the q a and then the third part is about conflict today and how it's changing and what our innovations both popular and also military innovations um have to say about that why it's changing in the ways that i think i'll describe to you so um that's my plan it's nice to be here and let's charge ahead so up on this screen is a picture of the aftermath of the bombing of the j.p morgan bank at the corner of wall street and broad street in new york city in september of 1920 so a little over 100 years ago the explosion killed at least 40 people they're still not entirely sure how many and seriously injured more than 200 so on your next visit to new york if you look carefully you can still see the pock marks in the building uh that was right next door to this event so how could that have happened well it was caused by a dynamite bomb that was hidden in a horse-drawn cart under a pile of cast iron window sash weights that acted basically like shrapnel or bullets here and it was one of many attacks that occurred between 1867 and 1934 on every continent except antarctica and alfred nobel's invention of dynamite uh he invented in 1866 but then he patented it in 1867. anyway the invention of dynamite sparked it all so what does any of this have to do with military innovation i'm going to try to convince you that it has a lot to do with it so here's the tiresome title slide from my book but um i'm going to be talking about the digital revolution the changes that are occurring as a result of our revolution going on around us everything from our jobs to our appliances to our logistical supply chains how we interact how we learn how we engage in politics and especially how we fight with each other is changing this is not news to this audience and that change and disruption is accelerating as a result of the pandemic and it's making us even more dependent on digital technology than ever so today i'm going to focus on this question how and why is military innovation different today than it was in the 20th century and also what new theoretical framework should we employ theoretical and analytical frameworks should we be employing to study it well to answer those questions in the next 30 minutes or so i'll cover three big subject areas the first is the nature of innovation in our current era the history of how technology diffuses in different social and political contexts is the second big topic you'll see in my talk that i uh when i was you know five years old was a student of michael howard so there's a lot of emphasis upon the political context social context the kind of broad setting within which violence occurs that's part of my dna as a scholar that's the second big area and then the third is how technology is already changing all forms of violence my book is mainly about terrorism but it has implications for a lot of other types of violence and especially state violence so let's talk about the nature of innovation today we'll begin with the contrast between open and closed technological revolutions okay a closed technological revolution is what we had during the 20th century with the concentrating of state power and the dawning of the nuclear age enclosed technological revolutions military or scientific elites limit the availability of new technologies like nuclear weapons and battleships satellites jet fighters or radar these things are expensive rare difficult to build they require high capital investments and these technologies also require high levels of expertise and they're carefully protected by things like security classifications or copyrights they're supported by long-term government programs with deep capital investment we speak of proliferation of these weapons and we use phrases like dual use meaning that they have both civilian and military uses and that's the model of military technology that dominated throughout the last century the united states with the help of the brits and the germans dominated military technological innovation there was control over it over time costs rose as major military systems so think of the f-22 or the arleigh burke destroyer or the drive-in to icbm these things are upgraded to reduce risk protect sunk costs and maintain technological leadership in known capabilities this is the model of military technological uh development and innovation that dominated during the 20th century and the iconic image of course would be albert einstein or j robert oppenheimer working away in a secret lab with a small team of scientists developing the nuclear bomb that's the iconic the extreme image then we opened pandora's box at the end of the 20th century the united states consciously shifted from closed technological development to open development spurred by cold post-cold war euphoria about a u.s dominated new world order now maybe that was inevitable for example a key element in the decision to go toward commercial development was the cost of micro micro electronics that was sharply declining and dod simply couldn't buy enough of them to shape the market around its own needs but still the result was dramatic virtually all of the major technological changes that we're experiencing today first happened during the 1950s 60s 70s and 80s and then they were shared in the 1990s so you know the examples arpanet became the internet tax dollars developed the gps system nasa and the u.s air force drove development of microprocessors google built their search engine with a fund grant from the national science foundation virtually all of the major components of your smartphone come from us government funded programs including the microchips touch screens even voice activated systems like siri and alexa now that's not to take away from innovations that have happened silicon valley or boston bill gates parents garage or mark zuckerberg's dorm room at harvard but as the us government consciously funded and shared these basic technologies and then as a result what we have now 30 years later is the maturing of an open technological revolution that started 30 years ago in an open technological revolution there's popular access to advanced lethal technologies you don't have to be a nuclear scientist to use them you don't even have to fully understand them because digital platforms are consciously designed to help people experiment individuals and private groups are free to buy use distribute these technologies and also to invent new purposes for them new forms of them new surprise combinations of them and they spread through commercial processes they can be accessed bought sold used combined and changed in this kind of revolution a much broader range of people is involved there are four kinds of users professionals professional consumers or prosumers hobbyists and regular consumers way beyond just military and civilian i think the concept of dual use has outlived its usability instead of proliferating like nuclear chemical or biological weapons these technologies diffuse like telegraphs railroads radios or automobiles did and that changes the equation of who can use new tools it has an impact on the cause and frequency of conflict beyond what happens on a battlefield or perhaps before what happens on the battlefield i knew we still have to focus on technologies that elites are building like the artificial intelligence arms race between the united states and china and nuclear weapons that's the high end nothing that i'm saying changes that we still have old technologies but we also need to consider lower end revolutionary technologies that are causing broader societal change they're affecting patterns of conflict especially in things that are familiar to us like terrorism insurgency mass shooting incidents these things that happen regularly that we see but also they're changing the patterns of state violence as they're shaping up before us they're having an impact because they're altering human behavior the challenges presented by nuclear weapons are therefore joined by the instability of lethal applications that are emerging in surprise settings historical periods of open and closed technological innovation have different dynamics and they need new and different strategic analyses terms and modes of practice so looking through the history of warfare watersheds have resulted from a shift in who can use new weapons and show up to fight not just from which side has the most technologically advanced or more powerful means and then oftentimes what happens is that rapid technological advancement occurs after a major war begins fortunately we can learn a lot from earlier periods of open technological innovation the last time we had this kind of open technological context was at the end of the 19th century when the second industrial revolution matured like today there were changes in global patterns of technological innovation trade communications the changes in the 19th century were much more sweeping than they are now human habitation patterns changed energy consumption sanitation medicine mass production these were enormous changes to society like today there was giddy techno optimism at the end of the 19th century and no clear dividing line between amateur and professional scientific communities today members of the public are free to purchase drones build robots or buy primitive jeans splicing kits and learn how to use them on the internet and during the late 19th century they could likewise buy cheap wiring kits chemicals high explosives along with instructions that were publicized by brand new journals such as scientific american and popular science which were founded and dedicated to the needs of the amateur inventor a remarkable range of innovations came out of this period from the work of tinkerers and hobbyists and many of them affected what happened in the first and the second world war for example italian electrician guimo marconi invented the radio in the late 1890s using homemade equipment in the attic of his home orville and wilbur wright you know that story alfred nobel first tinkered with explosives in a shed in the backyard of the family home and ultimately he came up with two things actually dynamite was the less important of the two the most important was the blasting cap which was a method of detonation that's used in everything from rapid fire artillery to atomic bombs and then again dynamite as well which built the panama canal but also launched the first global wave of modern terrorism anyway what i'm arguing is that today's potentially lethal technologies are emerging in an open technological revolution and many have more in common with accessible lethal open technologies like dynamite or ieds than they do with 20th century military technologies like nuclear weapons aircraft carriers jet fighters and tanks that's not to say that these individual tinkerers now are having that kind of influence what i'm arguing is that the foundation that they're laying is going to be a key element in the next major war and it could also be a catalyst which others have written about okay so there's dynamite all right so i'm going to just go briefly through these two case studies the first one is dynamite and the second one is the ak-47 there's a lot of data in the book not going to spend a lot of time on this but anyway dynamite set off the first wave of modern terrorism known as the anarchist wave it killed or injured thousands of civilians and it contributed to a surge of assassinations including the russian tsar in 1881 french president spanish prime minister italian king u.s president mckinley in 1901

and these killings that were with both guns and dynamite they were used together old and new technology um culminated with the killing of archduke franz ferdinand and the outbreak of the first world war newly laid underwater telegraph cables spread news of what were called dynamitings throughout the world stories with graphic details of dynamite bloodshed lord readers and then sold newspapers and there was a great dynamic especially in the united states it was an era of what was even then referred to as fake news but they also inspired similar violence elsewhere because of the symbolism of this kind of violence they were crucial in the development of mass-market newspapers at the end of the 19th century their sensationalized headlines sold lots of newspapers coverage of those dynamite attacks attracted readers in the united states for example between 1883 and 1895 the circulation of pulitzer's new york world grew from fifteen thousand to sixty six hundred thousand even though the paper only cost a nickel it was the most profitable newspaper ever published so there were three key factors an accessible lethal technology in this case dynamite whose sales were driven by commercial forces first second is a new communications vector in this case the telegraph and the mass market newspaper and then finally global diffusion of individual and small group political violence that played a role in the development of the first and second world war so the global spread of terrorism was remarkable i can show you and uh we can talk about the data where we trace those terrorist attacks between 1867 and 1934 and found a causal element between dynamite and the beginning of terrorism that actually follows on from the book that's another article how did it all end the british and the europeans tamped down the killings through a combination of regulations and international police cooperation bombings peaked in the 1880s and then dropped between 1897 and 1905. now i hear the newspaper headlines i just if you will go on um and they passed they relied very heavily on legislation in europe you can see the pattern of what's happening now in what they did during the late 19th century there was national legislation against uh criminal use of explosives in britain france germany austria italy and other european countries they also developed very elaborate regulation regimes the pattern in the united states was different beginning in 1907 the preponderance of dynamite dynamiting shifted to the americas and uh the federal government passed a series of laws against immigration of anarchists even though most of the dynamitings that happened in the united states were actually carried about by people who lived here already any regulation of explosives at all fell under state or local law and it was usually not enforced in 1907 the american railway association established a bureau of explosives so you had commercial actors coming in to regulate what was happening on their platforms and uh that was key to controlling the movement of dynamite between states and the federal detective service that was established in 1908 ultimately became the fbi in 1935. so that's specifically that technology but in a broader sense how it ended was the first world war which took nobel's blasting cap and high explosives things like ballastite and uh gun cotton and created killing fields and likewise also the second world war which perfected airplanes radios radar cryptography and the atom bomb those innovations would not have occurred without craft tinkerers during the open innovation era of the late 19th century okay so this one i'm not going to spend much time on at all basically the second historical case is the ak-47 it's an exception for the 20th century it's an open technological platform that was extraordinarily accessible spread through commercial processes um we can talk about mikhail kalashnik kalashnikov later it's really an interesting story but no time for it now basically if you look at how kalashnikov spread throughout the world you can see egypt's which is up there in russia that red dot all by itself and then the spread to eastern europe and moving on i hope so little red dots appear everywhere this is the result of a database and also relying upon the small war survey whoops so um the ak-47 changed the equation it became the most widely dispersed firearm in history outstripping the next family of rifles the american m16 by five or ten times of course pressures for decolonization were long-standing but after 1945 political independence movements surged and they were fueled at least in part by the ak-47 it was an open technological platform like dynamite the rifle developed a symbolic resonance that helped it spread this is the first public picture of someone using an ak-47 it was a guy in the 1956 hungarian revolution and he actually took that off of the soviet soldier this was the first time that the soviet union had their gun shown in a public setting was very humiliating because all of the soviet soldiers had been carrying their ak-47s in bags so as not to let the technology be known by the west and here this guy his name is joseph tibor feyez had picked it up from a dead soviet soldier and he later paid with his life for that photograph um because of course when the revolution was crushed he was on the wrong side of things and there is another example of the symbolic resonance of the ak-47 it's not by accident that's the aks-74u or the krinkov and uh bin laden had it in every picture so the rate of success of insurgencies increased in the aftermath of the second world war there are lots of different you can use many different percentages many different studies let's say that they went from less than 25 between 1775 to 1945 one study shows to more than 40 between 1945 and the present um and that's that's a conservative estimate some some are articles place the number of insurgencies that have been successful to uh higher than 40 and today there are 70 to 100 million kalashnikovs worldwide they never they never die so anyway the point is that open lethal technologies have patterns of diffusion that we can trace we can understand and anticipate both which technologies spread and also which ones don't spread and they're driven by commercial processes so here is a quick uh review of many of the characteristics that are important but to sum up open technological innovation of potentially lethal technologies through commercial processes changes violence and war just as it does every other element of human lives and we can anticipate which technologies are most likely to diffuse through commercial processes so that brings me to the final part of the talk what's going on now how is violence changing now how do we think it will change in the future and i'm going to speak about the themes that i see open innovation and diffusion of new technologies is driving changes in global violence across three key functions how people mobilize for violence this is the one everybody knows about right because everybody's doing all that research on social media there's all kinds of work in this part and this is the most established of the three but the second is how they project power or what the military call reach and then finally how they integrate complex systems so we'll begin with open innovation of mobilization it's not unusual to use communications to recruit or train people uh when it comes to non-state violence in the 19th century the anarchist published pamphlets with detailed instruction bulleted instruction brochures and booklets on how to build dynamite from scratch and also how to get it how to steal it but what's different today is the scale and the scope so i'm not saying that this is all unprecedented not by any means in fact what's really cool about what's happening now is we have a lot of historical precedence to look at we just have to understand how much more quickly and how the scale and scope are different today everyone has powerful computers in their pockets there's mass interactivity robotic replication of messages live streaming of attacks high quality first-person filmmaking that makes anyone a television producer so for example al-shabab the first jihadist group to live tweet in operation on the uh the west case shopping mall in nairobi kenya they reached an audience in 2013 they reached an audience of millions and of course they were a demonstration project for other non-state groups radicalization is also easier and faster it used to take people at least 18 months to be radicalized now it's a matter of weeks particularly if you look at the studies on q and r can be a matter of a couple weeks there's greater potential to be individually recruited and groomed algorithms this is all in the facebook news you've seen all of this people are channeled toward groups with which they might have affinity online online sites like 4chan 8 telegram reddit discord and so forth they've boosted militia long-standing militia movements in places like georgia michigan pennsylvania wisconsin and oregon islamic state its use of strategic communications was another demonstration project it's probably their most important asset they used it to recruit and attract resources you know what's really concerning to me is that right-wing groups um are and particularly individuals who are inspired by right-wing concepts anti-government or racist or range of other things are now beginning to talk about how much they admire the jihadists so i think ideology is much less important than it used to be you have people who are killing each other simply because they want to take agency because they're quote-unquote inspired by what they see on the internet and also through their smartphones and and and they want to they want to take action so extremist groups q and on oath keepers boys and so forth all of these things are evolving in a way that is extremely heavily affected by the scale and scope of our current technology which is not new technology plus terrorist groups and proxy armies also have the means to carry out attacks at greater distances now and so do private armies so do non-state armies or proxy armies that are that are supported like the houthis in yemen so that leads to the second big trend oops let's see that's the christchurch attack this is the of course recognize these pictures they're not unrelated sadly okay reach you know this is like tinkering this you know if you had seen a picture of mark county working in his attic it probably would have looked like that when he was developing the radio this is this is not important to us however people are combining clusters of technologies to create something new small uavs or drones robots 3d printing nascent autonomy all of these are easily combined by a broad range of actors the islamic state used fixed wings small drones and quadcopters for propaganda reconnaissance attack management delivering small payloads they weren't killing a lot of people but they had an enormous political effect remember it isn't just a matter of bodies it's the political impact you have on an audience and that audience is also taking note of what you're doing in terms of carrying out the use of force in 2017 ukrainian separatists used small drones to drop thermite grenades on ammunition depots larger drones have been used to drop heavier munitions has happened in syria we're seeing simple armed drones used by the taliban in afghanistan simple systems have a huge impact on partners counter drone technology is very expensive most systems are a hundred thousand dollars or more countering drones in large areas costs multiple millions partners can't afford that and they're hard to shoot down they're difficult to spot it's not that an advanced army or or military forces like those of the united states can't manage these relatively minor threats what's important is that they have a political impact on other people and then the united states often has to respond or mitigate them another aspect of reach is facial recognition technology which is becoming widely accessible it is already widely accessible to individuals to identify targets for killing there's additive manufacturing or 3d printing which is actually a very old technology but it now can be combined with the sharing of online digital cad files much more easily for example by a key base or other encrypted platforms and there's a serious problem of ghost guns for example some of which have parts that are 3d printed and we're also much more vulnerable targets look there's they're the ghost guns right this is a kind of a voodoo slide but anyhow more vulnerable targets how do you show that in slide where's the cyber physical systems that are using sensors that are saturating our world appliances devices with hackable sensors they're receiving and transmitting data without any human involvement so the cyber hack of oldsmar florida water system these are all this is old software that is combining with new software and not you're not necessarily updating it so it's just enormous enormously greater attack surface we don't hear about most of the the attacks um of course ransomware is another aspect of this the colonial pipeline ransomware attack and solar solar winds of course the state actor but the attack surface is is much greater than it used to be so there's a kind of a dynamic of scale and scope that's beginning to gain um i think it's beginning to accelerate so how do we integrate all that data and technology and that brings me to the third big trend which is systems integration and autonomy the systems are becoming so complex collecting so much data and so advanced that human intelligence can't integrate and manage them and the answer is to build in degrees of autonomy meaning that a machine is able to sense the environment process what's happening and act without human involvement that's what i mean when i say autonomy so simple forms of autonomy machine learning artificial intelligence are becoming cheap accessible much more potentially lethal data is a source of power for machine learning that's all very familiar to you but these things are integrating together my point is to see the connections across our society rather than look independently at each of these technological stovepipes so to sum up in the 20th century it required a national army to do all three of these things mobilization reach and systems integration this is a shadow of what's coming now small groups private armies proxy armies they can do them all proxy armies don't have to be able to go toe-to-toe with an advanced military force like that of the united states in order to have a huge political impact and to change the outcome of a conflict you guys still study closets remember the role of politics okay well so what right what are the practical implications well uh artificial intelligence swarms let's keep going so what this is for my audiences that are most interested in the non-state actors terrorist jihadists right-wing groups left-wing groups and so forth here are the implications of what they can now do looking at violence from the bottom up but i'm also interested in looking at violence with respect to state uses of force because i think we're being very foolish when we divide the two things and we see states as somehow in a different realm this is all one context many people believe that military technological innovation drives war that's a 20th century framework particularly um very notable in the first world war the second world war the revolution in military affairs draws entirely from that kind of argument the brodies and the uh the look at technology as if it were a linear development throughout history um the third offset strategy that you may have heard about that's totally out of the 20th century if we're in the third offset strategy we're looking at another state actor and moving around to try to offset the advantage of the other state or states uh precision guided munitions network operations these are the wrong framework i think for understanding what the next war is going to look like particularly how it's going to start because i believe that there will be tremendously fast technological innovation in the context of that war just as there was in the first world war and then in the second world war which in technological terms are really part of the same private companies like microsoft alphabet amazon facebook alibaba they're driving conflict now the next big thing in warfare will be a bunch of little things that are used by ordinary people in new ways and then the innovation that matters may happen again after the war breaks out so what do we do about it particularly if you're talking about a military organization the first is to more openly talk about and and discuss and think about the connections that happen in a commercial open context we're not in the centralization of military force dynamic that was happening during the 20th century second use new strategic concepts i've talked about a few i don't really think dual use is a useful concept anymore use concepts that reflect the role of ordinary people and how society itself is changing politically economically and in other ways sociologically but third in much more practical terms with respect to the united states military we have a huge personnel problem and a huge bureaucracy problem i mean the 20th the um pentagon is run as if it were still 1960.

we are unable to connect across bureaucratic stove pipes it's not an agile organization and it's not agilely developing weapons the kinds of personnel in the late 19th century that made the changes that were crucial to the next war the nobels the marconis the wright brothers they're not joining the military and oftentimes they don't want to work for the military although that depends it's it's it's easy to simply generalize about all of the technology companies and they're not all the same some are more oriented toward in being involved in their nation state particularly chinese companies others are much more globalist or techno optimists but if you think about someone like a mark zuckerberg or elon musk that's not the integration of potentially military technology with our nation-state armies so just to sum up once again we have to build security into the development phase of new technologies and develop countermeasures toward the downside risks of products that are already in use we have to be more aware of how they're being used with respect to lethal force and not just in our stove types of terrors and insurgency private armies and then oh states are all separate this means a mix of public regulations global agreements voluntary restraints by the private sector similar to what happened at the end of the 19th century very different in europe than it was in the united states if you'll recall the united states always goes for a much more sort of libertarian approach if you will it's different yet again when it comes to other parts of the world india china we can't eliminate the downside risks of the impact of digital technologies on the future of military innovation but we can recognize them we can reduce and we can be more agile in responding to them the widespread ability to mobilize project power and integrate systems is already weakening democratic states from within and i believe that it could set off the next interstate war in devastating ways so looking at these broad themes across state and non-state within their historical context i hope you'll agree is a more promising way to try to hold off the potential for a global systemic so you ready for your questions great thank you so much please um raise your hands high so that i can uh see it that's 10 boy i'm going to start with you and everyone else keep your hands up but the consequences of technology from [Music] okay of our capacity for anticipation then how would you yeah so um i agree with you that forecasting is not a promising vocation promising activity i don't know if you've read um laurie friedman's latest book about the future of war i love that book so that's you know i was trained in england that's the tradition that i was trained in so i agree with you that it's not a matter of making clear sharp forecasts from this point where you are with this technology especially by people that are not intimately involved in developing the technology so i would answer your question in two ways you answered it yourself well because i think that resilience in um understanding what is going on around you and adapting and being able to um have a series of different choices rather than getting stuck in one particular uh way of developing is an important way to respond but the second thing i would say is that even throughout history you can see those that are most closely developing most closely uh involved with the invention of major technologies they usually do have a pretty good sense of what can happen with those technologies or at least they have a better sense than your average uh future war pro forecaster right so i mean to look at the example i was using alfred nobel why do you think we have the nobel prize because he knew and in fact his um his girlfriend was bertha von sutner who was the most important member of the and the leader of the peace um movement in europe during the late 19th century so those who developed the technologies can see oftentimes the downsides and the likely dangers of them but those are not things that they're going to be eager to share so um so i would say resilience anticipation adjustment especially resilient organizations which we definitely do not have in the united states military that's a huge glaring problem and then working more closely with those that are developing technologies and making sure that they understand that they have a responsibility it is not just a matter of developing the technology and then oh i think i'll make my millions and walk away they have a responsibility for the downsides of those technologies that they already recognize um and i don't think we're you know we're doing a good enough job at uh ensuring that the downsides are accepted and discussed by those who develop the technology thanks to that [Music] i'm sorry one quick reminder to everyone in the room just to speak up and project as as much as possible for our speakers and then to anyone on the zoo please raise your van over to you okay well we'll see how my affair with production let me know if you can't hear me um thank you for a really interesting talk um i think you laid out with friends really clearly and the weaknesses the approach and dealing with it so far um so but how would you actually get people for these meeting birds to join the department of defense and how would you go about changing the pentagon moving away from what you're calling for the 1960s management style i don't mean sort of what would you change i mean how would well i have yeah you're right so um the military promotion system and how you move through a military career is very little different from the mid 19th century so even let's go earlier than 1960s right let's go before mcnamara and let's talk about the structure of our nation-state military it's absolutely the wrong kind of structure if what you want is to draw in people who feel that they're going to build a good career so this has been talked about for decades trying to find ways that people can move in and out either of military uh service or of civilian service with the military either way it doesn't matter if you're talking about in uniform or not we have some a little bit more flexibility with the defense at the diu but the basic structure of who does well in the military is absolutely at odds with what we need in order to have the most innovative military officers you need to have people who are able to go and work in silicon valley for a couple of years perhaps and know what it is to have a startup and know what it is to develop something new and then to bring it to implement it so that's the first thing i would change the military um career structure it's all about chips too it's very temporary so you have you know you're moving from one station to another you have to do certain things or you're not going to be promotable you have to have certain jobs depending on which part of the services you're talking about can it's different from service service but the basic structure is the same so that's the first thing secondly right now we have an enormous problem getting talent into the armed forces into the pentagon but also other parts of the department of defense now why is that well the first thing is have you noticed how few people who are political appointees have actually been uh confirmed so we have a problem that is also to part to some degree the responsibility of congress but it's also to some degree the problem that is the reflection of the polarization within our society so i think that we should have far fewer confirmable positions more positions that are appointable um even and to give them the kind of political uh power that they need because if you're confirmed you have much more power and much more status when you're working with the military and much more ability to do things than if you're just um you know not a confirmed appointee so reducing the overall number of appointees who are confirmed by the senate would help us be much more flexible in the personnel system in the department of defense those are two very practical things that i would do there are other things you know related to how um the pentagon is organized and ash carter did a lot when he was uh was there but um much of what he did has been either well it didn't fare well in the next administration so i think we need to go back in that direction but anyway those are some practical ideas steven mentioned at the end of your thoughts on sure well i mean we've already seen some state wars that arise as a result of the use of technologies and non-state actors i mean all of the so-called gray zone conflicts are um early episodes of uh state-to-state use of violence through proxies so you've got you've got yemen you've got uh ukraine you've got uh there's well the south china sea is a little bit different but but there are hot spots already where you have proxy actors on behalf of different major states where at any time there could be a war between the two states themselves but if you're talking about a major state war like the first world war then i see it happening in a catalytic way i mean similar to what happened with franz ferdinand steve i mean you've written about this and franz ferdinand the killing of archduke franz ferdinand was unimportant and yet because of the structure of the international system at that time it was the catalyst it was the spark that led to the unraveling um and the tremendous bloodshed the millions of people that were killed in the first world war so what i see right now is a similar kind of dynamic this isn't news to you or to anyone here but a similar kind of dynamic between the united states and china where there could be a relatively minor episode be it in the south china sea or over taiwan more likely where you have a proxy actor and you can't attribute who exactly carried out an attack and the other side attributes it to uh its enemy and then you have the same kind of dynamic that develops so that would be the broad description um i mean there are a lot of specific scenarios that we could sketch out but that's how i would see it happening um i recognize you in the last song with the purple center hi my name is samara i had a question about this binary that you created with the open and closed revolution keep memory sorry not very well i think you said open and closed technological revolutions and that i knew okay great um so i was wondering your opinion when you've created the open and closed revolutions does that change which actors have agency and by that i mean when you have nuclear weapons for example then the government has primary agency in controlling what happens next and there's been a lot of you know bilateral high organizational changes do you think then that open revolutions require more of a grassroots response not just getting people into militaries but using ground networks to create those barriers and trade policies and create responses to that yeah no absolutely you put your finger on it really i mean it does take agency away from governments so that's the other side of the question of the person who's sitting behind you suzanne i think anyway yeah so um you're right it gives agency to commercial actors much more agency and that's why it's related to the answer to professor oye's question because if you don't have those actors aware of what the source of their power is and the degree to which they're actually responsible for questions of war and peace rather than just profit and loss you're going to have the outcome that is the worst of all possible worlds which is a major systemic war that is set off by commercial actors that are not being responsible about their own technologies so yeah it does change agency it's a very big concern i did yeah it's related does this do one finger my question actually is about agency and what i would love to hear more about this i appreciated your comments at the app we can't scope to state out of this analysis so what i'm wondering is are you observing additional variation which states are more or less likely to be affected by the shift from a close to an open revolution um and are we seeing this miracle for state actors for non-state actors and the nuclear fighters what they think these things are connected about thinking about work by john hyman's right hand on how you know certain authoritarian regimes are more or less able to nurture you know price programs and i'm thinking are there things that states can do such as say chinese extremely competitive innovation environment right that could potentially have effects that impact who was able to use this diffuse technology more or less effectively yeah that's the you know the 50 million dollar question right so much depends upon which types of technology companies you're talking about you know there are a lot of people who worry about the fact that um china technology companies are so much more nationally oriented and china is able to develop you know and has developed tremendously complex and i would say suffocating examples of surveillance states that they're beginning to export to other countries they certainly have more control over platforms within their own country that doesn't necessarily mean that they have better innovation so there's no question that in the short term the united states and western democracies are suffering more but i think that in the longer term the fact that you've got greater ability for creative thinking and innovation is going to serve them better but these that much depends on decisions that will be made in the next five years i would say and those decisions are not just going to be made by the states they're going to be made by companies like microsoft thanks um let's see next i'm very all close good to see you thanks for coming out um so i may be repeating the different way questions already been asked maybe it's too much it's too much um i particularly enjoyed your mobilization of the attention of my explosive dynamite and in that period you see that not only that technology but many other related faculties are [Music] employed in words that could have and maybe shouldn't serve as demonstrations for large militaries um the implications of those technologies as usual actually might have been quite clear and i believe they were even quite clear to the professional militaries who observed them they just didn't like the answer so they adopted the bits they liked ignored the bits that they didn't like did not think conceptually about the implications of what would happen if these things were fit together and then if i took my basket of tricks against the pure competitors basketballs what would this interaction the system look like they had an image of what they wanted to look like which was different sleeping early victory and what they meaning it was something very different and then at that moment the scales did not fall from their eyes in fact it took them once and years to understand the interaction effects the technologies they incrementally employ and were as you say speeding up the application of in the war and then i would say to real social filtration asked do you have it at this point a a concessional framework that integrates some of this in terms of the in terms of professional standing great power military obviously you started with an interest in something else that led you to these insights and that's all great we all reach our insights a different way but now you're sort of trying to mobilize these insights to talk to a somewhat different audience about a somewhat different problem i'm just curious in your own mind you feel like you're 30 of the way to understanding what you think the implications are for large modern militaries or sixty percent or ten percent and it wouldn't matter if it's five percent because it's a very hard thing to do i'm just trying to push you a little farther on what's your image of what they're going to encounter when they try and crash into each other with the bits and pieces of these innovations they've adapted but the apparent lack of a larger conceptual framework about what it will be yeah so i understand exactly what you're asking and um i'm not going to give you as satisfying an answer as you're going to want barry because that's the next book yeah so this book started from the bottom up with the terrorism and the non-state actor the next book is underway i'd say i'm i feel 40 i have work to do so i'm not going to give you all the answers now because i haven't formulated all of them in my own mind but that is what i'm struggling with you know moving from you know what i agree with you the civil war it was all there the russell japanese war franco-prussian war it just drilled that stuff into us in oxford so yes i know and why didn't they see what was happening and and adjust before the first world war well the truth of the matter is they didn't and part of it was the answers to the questions that the the um other questioners in the back of the room asked me it's about military organizations and culture and resistance but i think one of the things that is is new and different compared to the 19th century is the degree in which we have commercial actors that are not just powerful not just like the railroads and the telegraph that that changed the world but but they're actually controlling a new space which is digital space so to what degree is digital space now something that is unprecedented and has to be looked at in um in terms of the role of commercial actors policing digital space i mean microsoft if you're looking at the newspaper they're the ones who have responded and responded to solar winds and they're now uh their crisis centers has been responding to things that we used to have our military respond to threats to uh individual actors and civilians in our own country so these are all pieces of the framework which i have developed but which i don't really want to share with you today but i'll come back if you want me to and if you can promise me better weather just kidding we will we will invite you in early september that's part of the technology that you need to have modification technologies well climate change yeah i mean i haven't gone there but i like it does anybody here writing something brilliant about climate change i hope so yay raymond um hi thanks for a great talk uh definitely a lot to think about i guess one of the questions already sort of asked by somebody else so i'm just gonna shorten my questions to one um basically you know you have this dichotomy of open versus closed uh technological innovation it's not sharp okay right so before you go there yes i know okay i understand complexity of history and all that my question is like what do you think is driving you know when you know uh like when innovation is open and when innovation is closed this is sort of specific features of the technology inspection like you sort of mentioned you know like upfront capital investment being very high when it's closed um or is it sort of certain features of the societies that are doing the innovation right is it you know like you talk about tinkers 18th century right in my mind you know not to be a sort of resident marxist here but you know like in my mind like tinkerers are only the temporary class is only made possible with the rise of the leisure class right which happened like right so so like is there some features of society that are that are driving it or is it a technology or interaction well i have to disagree with you and your marxist view if that's what that was about tinker's only being able to arise from the leisure class that was true of the wright brothers perhaps definitely not true of alfred novo the reason why he developed dynamite was that his family was going bankrupt his father died destitute they were brilliant all of his family were brilliant his brother died when um he had an accident developing in early experiments on um dynamite this was a desperate family situation he was a deeply damaged suffered a lot kind of guy he was not the leisure class in fact if you read more about him which i i'm not suggesting you need to but he's an interesting person and he never really could relate to other people because he had so much trauma in his early life so he was not a member he got rich of course but um one of the reasons why he drove the commercial processes of selling dynamite so ruthlessly against a lot of other um folks that were developing high explosives as the decades went by uh was that he was so afraid of that kind of poverty again at least that's how i read it so tinkerers are not the result of in my view the leisure class i think we have a lot of tinkerers now who are desperate to accomplish something we have a lot of violence that's being carried out by people who have lost their jobs or who are spending much more time online i mean i study terrorists and right-wing extremists in my part of my time and they are definitely not most of those folks that are engaged are at the highest i would say middle class and probably a lot of people who have suffered a lot as a result and perhaps lower class so um i don't know perhaps it's the fact that i grew up living part of my life early on in the american embassy in moscow during the soviet days that i'm not routine on the marxist view of the world still i take your point i just don't agree with it the second thing is though what has led to this circumstance the first thing that led to it was conscious policy decisions the united states particularly in about 1993 there was a i would say that was the key watershed year under the clinton administration made very conscious decisions to release um access to a lot of the technologies that we use today so voice activation systems gps um you know you had access to the internet and this all began to happen in the early 1990s this could have happened in the 80s had those decisions been made or i don't know maybe the 70s although you needed some maturity um so conscious u.s policy decisions i would say this was part of the techno utopia of the 1990s where we were going to all think kumbaya and work together with digital technologies so that that is a big part of the answer but after that then you have the role of commercial organizations and you have you and me i mean you must have a smartphone in your backpack right there i do in my in my uh briefcase so we're all part of technological innovation by being willing to pay for these things you know one of the things that is uh underrated is the power of consumers and most of them are completely ignorant of what happens to their data of who's collecting it and why a little bit more savvy and worried about this in europe we are way behind in the united states and most of the rest of the world is as well um that we're way behind and i only fear that we're going to have to have a major cataclysm that affects uh all of the major powers before people become wise to that so that's just one dimension but commercial actors individual consumers who drive profitability decisions that are made by commercial actors um you know facebook is very different from an organization like google or microsoft they're making different decisions about what our world will look like and that's going to affect us erickson thanks so much for the top um so my question kind of lies somewhere between raymond and barry so feel free to say it's an excellent question um but it's it's about the the state developers of this technology right there seems to be a set of trade-offs between open innovation you have close innovation you can keep it to yourself perhaps it is more effective you can use the secret open innovation perhaps cheaper easier so what are the reasons why states would choose to adopt open innovations is that because it's cheaper or are they just trying to respond to potential adversaries i think maybe something that would be really interesting for the next one is how the ratio of opening close innovations has changed over time that states are acquiring you know military clients what percentage [Music] yeah that would be interesting um [Music] i don't think states control open innovation so i wouldn't say that okay so why would a united states for instance acquire these open technologies and employ them in the military sense versus why would they acquire these open technologies and employ them in

2022-01-25 13:20

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