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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report 5 Underlying Themes At the close of the symposium, the symposium committee asked the DIA/DWO representative to share what he had identified as key take-away messages from the day’s discussions. These themes are summarized below. Although not intended to be comprehensive, the list highlights many of the concerns emphasized throughout the symposium. Agility is essential. Agility is difficult in a rigid structure like the DOD, but is necessary for adequate and appropriate responses to inevitable yet unexpected threats presented by adversaries. Technology surprise should be defined in a standard way. The lack of a common definition across the community of S&TI providers and users showed the DIA/DWO that neither providers nor users are adequately informed about what to look for or the risks inherent in not preparing for such surprise. Though it is not possible to anticipate all potential surprises, efforts to stay as prepared as possible are imperative. The nation is not prepared to meet future science and engineering needs. The decline in American students being trained as scientists and engineers has been noted, and the potential threat to technology surprise preparedness is profound. The S&TI community lacks a central point of contact. It is important that parties know whom to alert when either an exciting or a worrisome development has been noted. Communication gaps exist within the S&TI community, between S&TI producers and consumers, and between the United States and its allies.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter: A Symposium Report Gaps in communication channels were evident when the DIA/DWO asked how symposium participants connect with people outside the community. S&TI must better demonstrate the feasibility, impact, and intent of threats. Whether a threat is possible is a consideration separate from whether or not an adversary has the motivation and intent to carry out the anticipated threat. For users of S&TI to adequately prioritize potential mid- to long-term threats, the context-specific relevance of threat must be clearly communicated.