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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report 1 Motivation for the Symposium This symposium report1 summarizes the themes that were identified and discussions that occurred over the course of a 1-day symposium, “Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter,” held at the National Academy of Sciences on April 29, 2009. The report and the symposium itself were produced under the auspices of the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee for the Symposium on Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter, sponsored by the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) Defense Warning Office (DWO). This ad hoc symposium committee was composed of members of the Standing Committee for Technology Insight—Gauge, Evaluate, and Review (TIGER). An earlier NRC report, Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances, provided the intelligence community (IC) with a methodology that the IC had not previously possessed to gauge potential implications of emerging technologies for U.S. warfighting capabilities (NRC, 2005). This methodology is now used by parts of the IC as a tool for assessing potential future national security threats stemming from emerging technologies. As part of a continuing relationship with the TIGER Standing Committee, the DIA/DWO identified the need to gather insights and perspectives from warfighters that consume scientific and technical intelligence (S&TI), and asked the NRC to host this symposium for that purpose. 1 In accordance with NRC guidelines for workshop reports, this document does not include consensus findings and recommendations and instead presents the views expressed by individual participants in the symposium.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report SYMPOSIUM OBJECTIVE The purpose of the symposium and of this report is to highlight key challenges confronting the S&TI community and to explore potential solutions that might enable the S&TI community to overcome those challenges. The symposium objective, as described in the symposium brochure, is shown in Figure 1-1. The goal of the symposium was to capture comments and observations from individual members of the symposium panels, composed of representatives from combatant commands (COCOMs) and supporting governmental organizations, together with those of symposium participants, in order to elucidate concepts and trends, knowledge of which could be used to improve the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) technology warning capability. The panels were moderated by members of the ad hoc symposium committee. Topics addressed included issues stemming from globalization of science and technology (S&T), challenges to U.S. warfighters that could result from technology surprise, examples of past technological surprise, and the strengths and weaknesses of current S&TI analysis. This symposium featured invited presentations and included discussions on topics of interest to the DIA/DWO. (The full symposium agenda can be found in Appendix A.) Kiosks were also set up to showcase the Defense Technology Warning System prototype, recent NRC reports issued under the auspices of the TIGER Standing Committee, experimental verification efforts sponsored by DIA, relevant data-mining and visualization techniques developed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and technology forecasting by the Institute for the Future. Topics addressed at the symposium included: Discussion of pre-workshop questionnaire data collected by the DIA/DWO; General discussion of trends in S&T issues of interest to the sponsor, with particular emphasis on challenges to U.S. warfighters stemming from technology surprise; Examples of technological surprise experienced by a cross section of intelligence and military communities; and Identification of strengths and observation of shortfalls in S&T intelligence analysis from the perspective of participating consumers of that intelligence. This report summarizes the key themes from and views expressed by symposium participants. Although the NRC symposium committee (see Appendix B) is responsible for the overall quality and accuracy of the report as a record of what transpired at the symposium, the views described in the workshop report are not necessarily those of the committee. Box 1-1 provides the statement of task for the symposium activity.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report FIGURE 1-1 Objective of the symposium as stated in the symposium brochure.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report BOX 1-1 Committee for the Symposium on Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter Statement of Task An ad hoc committee, composed of members of the Standing Committee on Technology Insight—Gauge, Evaluate, and Review (TIGER), will convene a 1-day symposium with the theme “Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter.” This event will feature invited presentations and include discussions on science and technology topics of interest to the sponsor. The committee will: Attend and participate in all symposium sessions; Capture comments and observations from the panel discussions, and elucidate any trends presented in the discussions; and Produce a report that summarizes the themes of the symposium, with specific emphasis on challenges to U.S. warfighters involving technology surprise covered in the presentations and discussions. SYMPOSIUM PARTICIPANTS There were approximately 140 symposium participants in attendance, including both producers and users of S&TI as well as symposium committee members and representatives from other governmental and nongovernmental organizations with an interest in the topic of emerging technologies and technology surprise. Participant demographics are shown in Figure 1-2. A complete list of the organizations represented by symposium attendees is included in Appendix C. All participants heard from the featured speakers and broke into two groups for the panel discussions. The break-out sessions included invited panelists, committee members (some of whom served as moderators), and attendees. SETTING THE SCENE A major challenge inherent in technology forecasting was illustrated through reference to an experiment conducted by the Wall Street Journal (Anders, 2008). In 1998 a group of executives, academics, and entrepreneurs was asked to predict what the world would look like 10 years later, with an emphasis on technological advances. While their forecasts were relatively accurate in terms of technical
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report FIGURE 1-2 Distribution of symposium attendees according to S&TI role. specifications, they were unable to anticipate how that technology would be put to use. This theme recurred throughout the NRC’s 1-day symposium as many participants emphasized the need to anticipate how adversaries might use specific technologies rather than simply the availability of raw technical capabilities. Prior to the symposium, the DIA/DWO distributed questionnaires to selected governmental participants to elicit their perspectives regarding key topics to be discussed during the symposium. Responses were received from the major stakeholder communities—including COCOMs, defense acquisition, defense research and development (R&D), and S&TI producers. The results were tabulated and shown graphically during the opening session to help set the scene for the subsequent panel discussions. While the sample was small and the results not statistically significant, the distribution of responses served to focus and stimulate panel discussions. The charts shown here as Figures 1-3 through 1-6 were shared with symposium participants and are summarized below. Additional charts shown during this opening session are provided in Appendix D. As is evident from the charts and the discussion they stimulated, symposium participants were increasingly concerned about the potential for technology surprise, and nearly half of the respondents indicated that surprise had been experienced in the past. Furthermore, participants regarded S&TI as very important today and saw the need for increasing support from this intelligence mission area in the future. The responses summarized in these charts were corroborated by symposium attendees throughout the day.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report FIGURE 1-3 Results in response to the question, How important is scientific and technical intelligence (S&TI) analysis to you in your position? SOURCE: Survey by DIA/DWO. Participants spanning mission areas from current warfighting to research in support of future military capabilities agreed that S&TI—understanding the technology-based capabilities of others—is “very important” as indicated in Figure 1-3. Globalization, commercialization, and commoditization were identified as contributors to the concerns regarding the potential for technology surprise indicated by the responses summarized in Figure 1-4. A number of symposium participants identified specific instances of technology surprise experienced in the past, as suggested by the responses graphed in Figure 1-5. More than three-quarters of the respondents to the DIA/DWO’s pre-symposium questionnaire indicated that their need for S&TI would grow in the future, as indicated in Figure 1-6. This belief was reinforced during panel discussions throughout the day. Other pre-symposium questions were designed to elicit perspectives on S&TI time horizons of interest, the basic level of satisfaction with current S&TI support, and a sense of what S&TI delivery mechanisms might be of value to S&TI consumers. The summarized responses in Appendix D were used to stimulate the panel discussions.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report FIGURE 1-4 Results in response to the question, How concerned are you about the potential for technology surprise? SOURCE: Survey by DIA/DWO. FIGURE 1-5 Results in response to the question, Have you ever experienced surprise? SOURCE: Survey by DIA/DWO.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report FIGURE 1-6 Results in response to the question, Do you see your need for S&TI support increasing or decreasing in the future? SOURCE: Survey by DIA/DWO. THIS REPORT Chapter 1—this chapter—describes the motivation for the symposium, sponsor expectations for the report, and information presented to stimulate a dialogue. Current challenges for technology warning, as identified by symposium participants, are described in Chapter 2, and discussion regarding potential S&TI solutions is summarized in Chapter 3. The symposium featured three distinguished guests with unique perspectives on the S&TI community: Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair; former Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L)) Jacques Gansler; and the Director of the Battlespace Awareness Portfolio in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Intelligence (OUSDI), Robert Hegstrom. Summaries of discussions that took place with each of these three speakers are provided in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 contains a distilled list of key themes derived from discussions throughout the day. REFERENCES Anders, George. 2008. Predictions of the past. Wall Street Journal. January 28. NRC (National Research Council). 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11286. Last accessed May 6, 2009.