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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 1 Motivation for the Symposium INTRODUCTION AND STUDY ORIGIN This report summarizes key themes identified during the course of the second annual Symposium on Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter, a two-day event held at the Lockheed Martin Center for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia, on April 28 and 29, 2010. Both the symposium and this summary report 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—2010, sponsored by the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) Defense Warning Office (DWO). The ad hoc committee was composed of several members of the Standing Committee on Technology Insight—Gauge, Evaluate, and Review (TIGER). This symposium represented a continuation of the relationship between the TIGER standing committee and the intelligence community (IC) and the growth between them, with the goal of perpetuating and strengthening a dialogue between warfighters and members of the IC on ways to minimize surprise from either the unexpected appearance of novel technological capabilities or innovative adaptations of existing capabilities, or both. The 2005 publication Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances: A Symposium Report introduced a methodology for gauging the potential impact of emerging technologies on national security, which served as the foundation for the symposium in 2010.1 1 NRC. 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances: A Symposium Report. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11286. Accessed August 30, 2010.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 In fulfilling their roles, the ad hoc committee and the symposium attendees alike required access to classified national security information and other information exempt from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This report summarizes the key themes from the symposium and the views expressed by participants. Although the NRC committee is responsible for the overall quality and accuracy of this report as a record of what transpired at the symposium, the views described are not necessarily those of the committee; rather, the report is an attempt to fairly represent the discourse that emerged from the presentations and associated dialogue. Box 1-1 provides the study statement of task. OBJECTIVE The Symposium on Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—2010 was originally conceived by the DIA as a forum for warfighters who consume scientific and technical intelligence (S&TI) and for members of the IC to exchange perspectives on potential sources of surprise in the near- and long-term future. While this future was not strictly bounded by a number of years (such as “out to 20 years”), it assumed current and emerging technology and intentionally allowed for the possibility of new physics and/or very advanced applications that are not present today in mainstream science and engineering. The purpose of this annual event, this being the second, is to promote dialog between the two groups to elucidate trends that can be used to improve the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) technology warning capability. This symposium represents an important part of DWO’s ongoing efforts to engage warfighters and intelligence analysts in a discussion of potential threats posed by disruptive innovations and their impacts on national security. These efforts have been successful and are expected to produce even more benefits with continued engagement, including meetings such as this one. The first symposium, held in 2009, opened initial channels of communication between DWO and the combatant commands (COCOMs) and raised awareness of the need for collaboration. The 2010 symposium built on the achievements of the first symposium by eliciting greater participation from COCOMs, largely through the greater support of the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM). The event took place at Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation, a high-tech networked facility that uses collaborative software tools to enable real-time virtual interaction between members of the committee, members of the audience, facilitators, and presenters. These tools allowed the continuous collection of data from participants throughout the symposium, including the symposium committee, resulting in a higher overall level of knowledge exchange than in the live panel discussions held in the 2009 symposium.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 BOX 1-1 Statement of Task An ad hoc committee will plan and convene a two-day symposium themed “Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter 2010.” This event will feature invited presentations and panelists and include discussions on various related S&T topics. 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. The symposium opened with a keynote speech by Lieutenant General Keith Huber, Deputy Commander of the USJFCOM, followed by presentations highlighting cutting-edge technology topics selected by the DIA sponsor, including nonkinetic weapons, the death of privacy, Human 2.0, and energy. These drivers and the technology areas that pertain to them are presented in detail in Table 1-1. While they are unlikely to be the source of technological surprise in current conflicts, they are consistent with the sponsor’s mission to try to anticipate surprise that could occur years to decades in the future. Appendix C contains individual summaries of each technology area. However, as noted in Chapter 2, discussions at the symposium evolved into a broader definition of surprise that included tactics involving novel use of widely available technologies and even unanticipated approaches arising from different cultures and value systems. The second day began with a review of preliminary data from surveys carried out on the first day, continued with reflections by Admiral (ret.) James R. Hogg, and closed with presentations from DWO and USJFCOM’s Future Joint Operating Environment Team. SYMPOSIUM PARTICIPANTS The more than 100 participants in this year’s symposium included S&TI analysts or producers; consumers of S&TI from military, government, and non-government organizations; and the members of the ad hoc symposium committee. The relationship of the participants to S&TI—producer, consumer, or other—is
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 TABLE 1-1 Technology Areas Highlighted in Symposium Presentations and Their Associated Drivers. Thematic Driver Technology Area Presented Nonkinetic weapons Low observables and counter low observables Adaptive camouflage Nonlethal weapons Agile systems Death of privacy Miniaturized sensors Ultraprecision strike Quantum C4I Nanophotonics Human 2.0 Virtual reality Enhanced cognition (nonpharmaceutical) Modeling, simulation, and games Energy Lightweight electrical systems High-energy-density materials Hypersonic flight Affordable space launch summarized in Figure 1-1. A comprehensive list of the organizations represented at the symposium is included in Appendix B. The individual participants generally are not named. METHODS FOR DATA GATHERING AND INTERPRETATION This year’s symposium differed critically from its predecessor in its use of technology to facilitate continuous discourse among attendees throughout the day. The result was a drastic increase in the efficiency and volume of communication—that is, the normal vectors of speaker-to-audience and peer-to-peer communication—whereby blogging among participants, including the speakers in post-presentation follow-ups, became the primary means of attaining a shared understanding of the issues. Participants were able to contribute to network logs (blogs) during the presentations and were encouraged to do so. Although there was at first a wide disparity in familiarity with this tool, it was generally observed that those unacquainted with real-time blogging were able to learn quickly, and good participation ensued. After each presentation, a focused and structured survey was presented to all participants, most of whom completed it. The combination of new data collection capabilities resulted in an increase in the quantitative data available for analysis from the surveys and in the qualitative data from the blogs. The quantitative data were analyzed by the hosting facility’s
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 FIGURE 1-1 Distribution of symposium participants according to S&TI relationship. team in accordance with guidance from the symposium committee. Together with the qualitative data distilled from the blogs, the quantitative data provided the committee with valuable insights into participants’ attitudes, their claimed existing knowledge, and, in some cases, the evolution of the participants’ knowledge and shared understanding of the concepts presented. The committee observed that one benefit of using the collaboration tools was the increased participation of audience members. Users could participate openly or anonymously. The blogs contained responses to the presentations and to other bloggers’ comments or questions, allowing the inclusion of topics of broader interest to the audience. The blogs also served as a means for all participants to contribute knowledge as they felt appropriate, and blogging enabled a level of involvement among participants not otherwise possible in workshops of this length, complexity, and size. Simply put, when many participants are able to participate fully in a dialogue without interrupting either the speaker or other listeners, the result is a much richer intellectual experience. PRECISION OF SURVEYS The symposium opened with a survey to collect demographic information and ascertain the current level of knowledge and use of S&TI products. Participants completed surveys after each presentation on a technology area. These “reaction surveys” asked participants to gauge the likelihood, based on their understanding of the topic and the presentation, that elements of the technology area would be used against U.S. national interests in various theaters of operation. As mentioned above, questions in the reaction survey addressed a variety of dimensions of the topic under discussion, including the likelihood of encounter-
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 ing the capability in the hands of an adversary, making the technology perhaps better suited to offensive rather than enabling capabilities. The questions were very broad, which limited the ability of participants to express nuanced opinions on some of them. Additionally, participants interpreted some of the survey questions differently than had been intended.2 In spite of these limitations, data from the surveys did a good job of presenting a high-level portrait of common understanding on the part of distinct demographic groups. Specifically, areas of shared cognizance could clearly mitigate the risk of surprise, whereas areas with a gap in the shared understanding of the technology’s utility and significance represent opportunities for further engagement. The discussions and blogs suggested several ways to improve the granularity of the survey methodology for the next symposium. Figure 1-2 contrasts the results from surveys completed by the producers and the end users of the technologies during the symposium. The areas that showed the most difference between the two groups were cognitive neuroscience and virtual reality, as can be seen by comparing the consumer/end user line and the producer/provider line in Figure 1-2. WORKSHOP TOPICS S&TI analysts from the DIA loosely grouped the technology areas of interest discussed in the presentations into four potential drivers for future technology surprise: nonkinetic weapons, the death of privacy, Human 2.0 (including the use of cyber technologies to enhance human cognition and interaction), and energy. The technology areas that illustrate these drivers are listed in Table 1-1 and are represented in Figure 1-2. REPORT STRUCTURE This report summarizes the events of the symposium and highlights the four main themes selected by the DIA. The present chapter describes the origin and purpose of the symposium, the methodologies employed for data gathering, and the topics presented to stimulate discussion among participants. Chapter 2 discusses the concept of technology surprise. It explains that there is no contradiction between “surprise” and mature technologies—the harm of a surprise can come from the unanticipated, novel, or newly invented application of a mature technology or the evolution of new processes that enhance the utility and effectiveness of a mature technology, or from both. Chapter 3 highlights the main themes of the symposium and the discussions. Some of the challenges presented to the warfighter by technological surprise are outlined in Chapter 4. Appendix A contains 2 This was determined through conversations overheard during the breaks and through explicit commentary made during the wrap-up sessions.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 FIGURE 1-2 Comparison of survey results obtained from producers/providers and consumers/end users regarding the 15 technology areas highlighted in symposium presentations. LO/CLO, low observables/counter low observables.
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Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow’s Warfighter—Symposium 2010 committee biographies. Appendix B contains a list of participating organizations and an agenda, and Appendix C contains summaries of the sessions held on each of the two days of the symposium. Owing to the nature of some of the material covered, the summaries in some cases are very brief.