DANIEL Y. CHIU: Good morning, everybody. Thanks for sticking with us, coming back. I know it was mostly because you just wanted to hear the results of the poll. So let me announce this. I think all of you know we had a great debate this morning on America’s role in the world, between Xenia Wickett from Chatham House and Chris Preble from Cato Institute. Is the United States still the indispensable – United States still the indispensable nation?
So we started off at 60 – sorry, at 56 percent in favor of the United States being the indispensable nation, just shy of 25 percent against that proposition, and 19 percent undecided. And in the final tally – although we apparently gained, I think, one or two audience members in that time frame – we had a little bit of a shift. We have 64 percent – so a larger percentage – in favor of the resolution or proposition of America as the indispensable nation. Against the proposition actually stayed exactly the same, at 25 percent, so no change there. But the undecideds clearly shifted quite a bit. So there were only 10 percent left undecided afterwards.
I think that was fascinating to hear. I think particularly as the terms of debate really shifted and really made us focus on different issues, which raised, already, a lot of ideas for ways to follow-up on those and for things for us to do afterwards.
You’re about to hear a session on imagining solutions. Again, we went through yesterday talking about big changes in the world that have already happened, that are continuing to happen, that will happen, and then some potential for failures – strategic failures if we don’t start to create greater continuity between – or greater connections between how we view the world and how we work in the world and those changes that we’re talking about.
So I’m really excited about this next session which will be about imagining solutions, some ways forward. Peter Schwartz is back with us to help set the scene for this particular piece. We’ve got some great, great speakers, as I mentioned before, that I think you’ll find very interesting.
Let me just mention – we’ll do the usual speaking format for this. And, Peter, we’ll have some time for question and answers. You all will have some time to please jump in and participate and ask questions and make some points as well. Right after that, we are going to roll very quickly into a wrap-up session to really give you not only some impressions of what we on a panel of a variety of participants here have thought about this conference, but also want to hear from you on what you thought about this conference. As I said, I think we have a lot of interesting pieces on the table. And what we need to do is figure out how to put them together and move forward.
So thanks again for staying with us and coming back. Over to Peter.
PETER SCHWARTZ: Good morning. Is the mic on? Yes.
I have to apologize for missing the first session this morning. I’m the board for the Center for New American Security. We’re having a board meeting. And so I just left that board meeting, which is still going on. Though we had a board dinner last night where we actually debated precisely the subject that was the discussion this morning. You might imagine it’s also a subject of great interest to CNAS as well.
So what I want to spend just a couple of minutes talking about to set the stage is what’s involved in thinking about solutions and what some – at least propose a particular option from my own experience. I’ve had the privilege of working with a large number of companies, a fair number of governments over the years in thinking about how to make them more farsighted, how to engage in a longer-term agenda.
And so in that respect I want to touch on two important ideas that frame basically what I want to suggest. And the first is the notion of adaptive and emergent strategy. In a world of unpredictability and fundamental inherent uncertainty of the sort I described at the beginning yesterday, a strategy that you lock in and keep in place for X years or decades, like, for example, containment was a national security strategy, a big vision, was plausible in an era where the systems and structures were relatively stable. Containment worked for close to 50 years in the context of a stable Cold War. And most everything fit within that rubric.
Much more difficult when the institutions are unstable, as they way they are today, and the environment is inherently unpredictable. As a result, it is difficult to imagine a strategy like containment being persisted for the kind of time frame that it was in the Cold War. So in the world of business, we talk about two different kinds of strategies in a sense. One which is adaptive, in that it is – gives you enough flexibility that over time you can adapt to the evolving circumstances that you’re actually dealing with. Now, let me say, that is not an easy thing to do. It’s not obvious. There’s not a magic formula for that. But you – if you begin to think about that in a different way, then that’s part of it.
Secondly, the concept of emergent strategy, which is – was developed by Henry Mintzberg, a Canadian academic, basically is the idea that you have a goal in the direction you want to go in, but it is affected by the environment as it plays out. And the real strategy is the result of the interplay between the environment and your intentions. It’s a bit like sailing. I’m a sailor. I sail in San Francisco Bay. And, you know, unlike a powerboat which you can point to where you want to go and just go, without reference to the tides or the winds or anything else, the real world is much more like sailing, where you actually have to take into account the tides and the wind and so on. And if you don’t, you don’t end up where you want to go.
But of course, the tide changes, the wind changes and so on during the course of the day, and you’re constantly resetting your sails and your course to adapt to those evolving circumstances. So I think we need to think about the solutions in the context of this environment of fundamental uncertainty and the need to have strategies that emerge out of that interplay and allow for an adaptation in the real world.
Now, in that respect I want to just – as a footnote to that – if we could – and that’s a big if – that if we could the ideal environment is one that actually would be a bit more stable, one with structures that we committed to, structures of the sort that we did have in the Cold War era, but which we have not framed yet. So from that point of view, if we could find a modus vivendi with our adversaries and our allies that actually allowed for a new framework of stable structures and institutions of the sort we had in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, that would actually be a changing of the game and now allow a different kind of strategy to take place. But I’m somewhat skeptical that we can actually get there. But that would be an ideal, if we could.
Having said that, then the one practical suggestion that I want to put forward is something that I’ve done in a number of organizations, including when I was in Shell, in Salesforce, where I work today, and I worked in a number of governments. I had the privilege, as I mentioned yesterday, of working with the Singapore government. There, we created something called the Centre for Strategic Futures. That actually works in the prime minister’s office helping them to try and anticipate discontinuities and disruptions.
So what I want to propose is a new mechanism that in fact – you know, the work that the NIC does, that Mat Burrows led for a number of years, on the Global Trends Report is really quite a remarkable piece of work. It has been developed into a high art, a terrific presentation. And I’m sure it has significant impact. But it comes along once every four years. You know, and they present it to the incoming president. I’m sure it was well-received the last time and absorbed, and then it kind of goes silent for the next four years until the new guy comes along or re-election.
Well, it seems to me that that’s inadequate. We need something that is more frequent, that is not necessarily daily. So what I’ve established in organizations is what I call the discontinuity committee, and whose job it is to think about major discontinuities and to report on a quarterly basis and engage the leadership of our company, other companies, other governments in thinking about those discontinuities.
And that – and I put out something called the discontinuity brief before these meetings where we look at major technological, economic, social, political discontinuities that are going to be consequential to us. They’re not abstract. They’re meaningful. They are things that actually we have to do something about. We would have to anticipate or prevent or in some way respond to in advance, where there is important reason to know in advance.
And let me say, my experience tells me that if you do your homework, you can see these coming with very, very, very few exceptions. There’s almost nothing that has happened in the last 20 to 25 years that has really shocked me. There have been a few things, but very few. And that it is not that they can’t be anticipated. As I suggested yesterday, it’s denial mostly. So the goal, therefore, is to create a venue where you can have this conversation on a systematic and regular basis and raise the issues.
And what I have found is that if you can introduce those ideas in advance of people actually needing them, then they have time to absorb, reflect and actually bring those ideas to bear when the events actually occur, when the discontinuities actually play out. And that they have a better muscle for reacting to, in an appropriate way, the discontinuous events. So I would suggest that this committee should be just located in the White House.
It should be a joint committee between the Congress and the executive, and that both should be party to that conversation and both should be thinking about what the major discontinuities are likely to be. If it just sits in the White House or just sits in the Congress, then it is likely to be a competition of ideas, rather than a collaboration. Now, I recognize that there’s nothing like this. This may be pure fantasy and that it is purely wishful thinking. But if I had to design the ideal ultimate mechanism, that’s what it would like.
So with that, we have quite a remarkable panel. And I’m not going to introduce them each, you know, give you the bios, because you have them all there in front of you. But now our first speaker is Alessandra Orofino. Alessandra, the stage is yours.
ALESSANDRA OROFINO: Thank you. Hi. Is this working? No? Oh, now it is. OK.
Hi. I’m Alessandra. I come from Brazil, from Rio. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. You should, if you haven’t. It’s quite beautiful, especially at this time of year. And I was born there. That’s my city. That’s where I come from. And I had a very unique, I think, experience of that city growing up, because I come from a family – a very unusual family for Rio standards.
My mom is from this very wealthy family, comes from a very comfortable background in the city. And my father comes from a very poor background in the city. And therefore when I was growing up and I was staying with my grandparents for most of my time I would sometimes be in this mansion in Copacabana, two blocks from the beach with maids and crazy life. And sometimes I would be with my grandmother on my dad’s side in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods that was getting extremely violent in the ’90s when I was growing up.
So that gave me a sense of how the city was actually developed and how investments were made in that city and how people related to public space. And that relationship was incredibly different depending on where you went. Another thing that was very different between my paternal grandmother’s life and my maternal grandmother’s life was their relationship to nature and to what the city could actually offer in terms of its very privileged landscape and its amazing opportunities for leisure and contact – direct contact with nature.
And at some point in the late ’90s, that relationship changed for both of them, because at that point the way the city was developing, without any preoccupations with sustainability and actually preserving its natural environment, it started to impact not just the poor, but the rich too. So then all of a sudden, my maternal grandmother could no longer really go to the beach, because it was kind of filthy and terrible and disgusting. And that hit her, I think, a lot harder than any of the patterns of social exclusion that the city had seen for so many years, really since it was founded.
And I’m telling you this story because I think that cities in a way embody two of the world’s biggest challenges right now, and they are microcosms for how those dynamics will evolve over time. They are at the front lines of one of our biggest battles, and that is the battle against economic inequality and the systematic exclusion of entire groups of people from public life. And they are also on the front lines of climate change and our battle for preserving the natural environment in which we live in.
And what’s interesting about that is that in cities we also see a pattern in which the way inequality affects the rich is mostly through social unrest and violence and the way the lack of a sustainable planet for development affects the rich is through, well, affecting everyone together. Those are the kinds of problems that we cannot run away from. We can try to hide them. We can try to pretend they’re not there. But they will come back to bite us. And they are doing that in all of our world’s greatest cities right now.
And the reason why I’m talking about cities is that I was quite surprised when I was invited to speak here today. The work that I do is mostly with citizens in my city trying to engage them in local politics. And here I am talking to you at a Global Strategy Forum. But I actually think that there is a lot for us to learn not only about how we develop and how we actually create a narrative for what a successful society looks like, but also for how we make decisions and involve, or choose not to involve people, in those decisions. There’s a lot for us to learn on both of these sides from cities.
Our greatest cities are today a focus of dynamic economic grow, focuses of actual, like, pursuit of happiness, in a way. People come to cities because they want to be together and they want to be in proximity with each other, and they want to share and learn from each other. But at the same time, our cities are becoming more and more siloed. And they look less like the big public space that we imagine, or we may want to have, and more like a juxtaposition of private spaces. And people care more about their houses and their cars and their private shopping malls.
And that is true not only in the United States but increasingly, sadly, all over the developing world, where the sort of American way of developing a city has taken hold. And some of the mistakes that the United States has made and it’s now trying to correct in its urban development are being repeated over and over again in those big cities. They are creating car-centric, private-space-centric modes of urban development. And that is a problem. And I think that’s something – there is a space definitely for the U.S. to lead because you have some of the great thinking around urban development, and also because you have made all those mistakes already. But you have also made many, many things really well. And some of the world’s greatest cities are, of course, right here in this country.
But one thing that strikes me really deeply is how far away people are from city politics. You would think that at the city level people would be more engaged in politics, right, because decisions that are made by mayors and city administrations affect people really closely, really quickly and right there in their communities and their neighborhoods. But in fact, people are disengaging from city politics a lot faster than they are disengaging from national politics. Both phenomena are problematic, but at the city level voter turnout rates, for instance, are systematically lower than at the national level – everywhere.
And if we know that cities are the front lines of some of the world’s biggest problems, the fact that people are not participating in the solution, that they’re not engaging in politics at the city level should be worrisome to us all, especially if we want to make sure that we live in vibrant, democratic societies – another space, I think, for the U.S. to lead. So that should be a big red flag in our minds. And what I have been trying to do about it is actually help people organize and self-organize in their local communities.
So about three years ago I co-founded an organization called Meu Rio which works in the city of Rio, in my hometown, and is now expanding to other cities in the region. And what we do is provide people technology and ways of working to make it easier for them to connect with each other, identify common issues and areas of interest and actually make demands on their government, but also discover the power that they have with each other.
So let’s say that we work with power with and with power over. How do you actually organize to have leverage over decision making? How do you exert power over someone or over an institution? But at the same time, how do you build power with? How do you realize your potential? I come from a city where entire communities were built from people and by people from the ground up. If you go to a slum in Rio, there is not one single piece of public infrastructure that was put in place by the government. And yet, the people feel like they have no power without the government.
So all we’ve been trying to do is actually show people that they have power with each other, and that sometimes they can use that power to influence decision-making processes when they’re feeling disengaged and when they’re feeling like they have no seat in the room. We are a member-driven organization and our members are also our biggest supporters, including financially. We have 200,000 registered members in the city of Rio now. And about half of them are 20- to 29-year olds.
That means that one in 10 20- to 29-year olds in the city of Rio is a member of Meu Rio today. And we think that that model is actually relevant to other cities around the world. But even if it weren’t, there is something about working with youth in a country where there is a first generation that, in a way, didn’t really have to fight for anything – or so we are told. Right, I come from the first generation of Brazilian citizens who were born under a democracy and have spent most of their lives in a country that was growing economically really quickly.
And we were told growing up that we didn’t really care about democracy and we didn’t really care about our democratic institutions because we did not have to fight for them. That is certainly true of all generations alive in this country, because you were fortunate to be born under a democracy too. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t care about it, it just means that weren’t necessarily comfortable with the way the institutions were developed. And that is something that we have to think about. People are just tired of only being treated as powerful citizens when it’s time to take that power and give it to someone else.
And that’s exactly how we treat most of our constituencies and the general public in the U.S., in Brazil and in many of our competitive democracies. We only look at people as thinking, able, powerful individuals when we’re actually pleading with them and asking them to please give them – give us their vote. And that is a problem. And that’s why people are disengaging. It’s not that hard, actually, to understand. Why would you be a part of a system that only cares about you in a transactional way, and after that transaction is done that system doesn’t really see you unless you are able to leverage enough power to be influential.
So we could have just, like, sat around and said, well, we’ll then disengage from that system. We won’t really play by these rules. But what we are trying to do instead is actually organize the unorganized so they can actually start wielding enough power to be influential. And that means having access to the best professionals, having enough resources to have PR, design, communications, strategy. But also, it means recognizing each other, seeing each other and understanding our common challenges and understanding that some of our biggest challenges will not be solved unless we work truly together because cities, like our entire world, are complex systems.
And if there is one part of the city that is not doing well, that is excluded from public life and that has terrible natural environments that will have an impact on the entire city in time. And we can try to hide from it. We can try to disengage from public space all together and make sure that our own little private spaces are safe and clean and good to live in. But ultimately, we are living together because we wanted to be together. And if a precondition for that existence becomes hiding from each other, we just won’t be happy.
So as we’ve talked about imagining solutions, I would like you to invite you to imagine a world in which people are participating in politics from the ground up, from the city to the national level, every single day of their lives. And not just because we have an awareness campaign – people don’t want to be aware of things that they cannot change. They’re engaged in politics because they know that their voice is powerful and meaningful and will have an impact. And we can start doing that in our cities right now. And I firmly believe that if we do, that would change the way our democratic societies are organized and that will one day change the world. So thank you. (Applause.)
MR. SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Alessandra. That was really great. There’s a lot to comment on that, but I’ll wait till we hear from all the speakers.
David Rothkopf, the floor is yours.
DAVID ROTHKOPF: Good morning, nice to see you all. This is a good subject to talk about. It’s a good subject to talk about because we are at a moment of strategic crisis in Washington. We may hear that strategy happens in certain places in Washington, but it doesn’t really.
What we do is we react. We deal with narrow-minded political issues. We don’t think of the long-term. We don’t have the right people thinking of the long-term. The institutions within the United States government that are created in order to develop strategy have atrophied or are failing at their jobs. The leaders who should be guiding us toward strategy are not strategic or they are unable to govern effectively and therefore not able to implement the strategy. And therefore, we seem to be adrift.
And I think, you know, we can drill down in several areas of this. But before we do, you know, I’d like to suggest that – you know, I’ve been saying this for a while. I just wrote a book that deals with this problem recently, called “National Insecurity,” and that deals a lot with the process and a lot with a look at specific government agencies and specific people. So I’m not going to deal with that here. I’ve also heard some rebuttals that said, oh, no, no. We have a strategy. You know, the president came into office and he said, well, first we’re going to fix our economy and then we’re going to fix our international alliances.
That’s not a strategy, OK? In the first sense it’s a reaction and in the second sense it’s a strategic fragment. It doesn’t deal, as Peter suggested one ought to be dealing, with the objective on the horizon, the environment that is affecting us in our process towards it. And I think there are reasons for that that go far beyond the people that we’ve got in office, far beyond the politics of Washington today or the dysfunction of Washington today, far beyond the fact that the parts of our government that once did foresight don’t do foresight, and it gets to something much, much deeper and more basic. And that’s what I’d like to deal with just in the course of the next 10 minutes.
On September 11th, 2001, when we were attacked and we underwent a massive shift in our strategy and our international objectives, there were, according to the intelligence community estimate, 100 members of core al-Qaida. And our immediate reaction was to treat them as though they were analogous to the Soviet Union. We immediately – because we sustained a big shocking body blow – reorganized our national security apparatus from top to bottom. We underwent the biggest reorganization of our national security apparatus since 1947. We changed – we created the DNI, the Counterterrorism Center. We created the Department of Homeland Security. We shifted our focus to dealing with counterterrorism as a central objective.
And although any president would have and should have responded to those attacks and recognized that in today’s world small groups can reach from far away and cause us problems and we need to deal with the root causes of those problems and with those small groups, we made a terrible mistake. We began to focus on the wrong thing. The terror threat was real, but narrow. And the world was changing in fundamental ways – profound ways that would affect the United States and its role in the world and all of our national interests. And we stopped focusing on those things.
Part of it’s the rise of emerging powers. Part of it’s the hollowing out of our own economy. That’s not to be minimized. We don’t know how to create jobs. We don’t know how to raise wages in the United States. The old formulas don’t work. The last 15 years are the first 15 years in American history where GDP goes up, productivity goes up, and wages don’t go up and jobs have effectively held flat. And that creates not hollowing out, that create inequality, growing gaps, political unrest – crucial issues. And while we say we’ve addressed our economic problems at home, we haven’t addressed those things. We don’t have an answer for those things. So those are important things.
But I think bigger things are afoot. When I talk to groups of people and I say, what are the biggest strategic changes that have happened? What are the biggest things that have changed the world in the past 25 years? Depending on the age of the group, half of them will say 9/11 and the other half of them will say the fall of the Soviet Union. Neither of those things are the biggest changes that happened in the world in the past 25 years. The biggest change was that in 1990 there were 12 million cellphones in the world. And of last October, there were more cellular devices on the planet than there were people. Today there are 20 billion or so devices attached to the Internet. By 2020, there will be 50 billion devices attached to the Internet.
Now, this is not – you may think, well, that’s interesting. We have Google and Facebook and Twitter. And look at the screens over here. There’s Twitter stuff happening all the time. That’s what that technological change means. That’s not what that technological change means. It means that every aspect of life is impacted in profound ways. We are at the very, very beginning of the information revolution. What happens in the next 20 years is going to make what happened in the past 20 years seem like nothing. In fact, the way I characterize it is this is the day before the beginning of the Renaissance.
This is the day before the beginning of a massive change in human history that we have not begun to grapple with, because all of these changes change what is human identity. Who am I? Do I associate with the people who are close to me or do I associate with people who are like me on the Internet? Geography no longer becomes a primary identifier of who I am as a human being, affinity does. That’s profound change. Changes the nature of what is a community. That changes the nature of what is governance? What is a society? How do we connect to one another? Fundamental human rights change.
Today, in today’s world, you cannot get an education, get a job, conduct business transactions, compete, grow without being on the Internet. Does that mean if you were writing a constitution today that within that constitution you would say you are guaranteed right to access to the Internet? I think it does, OK? But if you’re guaranteed right to the access to the Internet, does that mean you’re guaranteed right to the access of electricity? One-point-two billion people on the planet don’t have access to electricity. If they don’t have access to electricity, they are not citizens. They are not being granted the rights of global citizens. But you might think electricity’s a luxury. But it’s not a luxury. It’s essential in this new reality. And a lot of people are left out of that.
Bigger changes are afoot. Today 2.2 billion people on the planet don’t have access to financial services, a bank. So what’s going to happen to those people? Well, look to Tanzania, where 10 million people have mobile money as their means of accessing a bank account. We may think, well, that’s interesting. Mobile money, there’s going to be bank accounts and that’s going to be a headache for banks because telecom companies are going to complete with them. And yes, that’s true. And that’s going to be a headache for governments because telecom regulators know nothing about banking and banking regulators know nothing about telecom and so we are going to have a problem in sort of dealing with this. Yes, that’s true.
But it’s much deeper than that. I had a group of central bank governors together over at Foreign Policy a little bit ago. And those central bank governors said that this is the biggest change that has happened to finance since the advent of paper money. It’s going to change what monetary policy is, what governments control, how they deliver their services. Mobile money’s a game changer. You talk about cyber warfare and we talk about cyber defense or cyber – we don’t have the fundamental understanding of what that means. During the Cold War conflict was so costly that we didn’t dare fight a war. In this new period, what you might call cool war, conflict is so cheap no one dares stop. Is that a safer world? Is it a safer world, where people are constantly fighting with each other behind the scenes?
Course it’s not, because even though you do not have the nuclear threat looming, you have tensions rising. People think they can act with impunity, but ultimately they don’t act with impunity. And we have not seen the beginning of what cyber conflict really looks like. We have not seen somebody shutdown an air traffic network or a power grid. And we will see it. We have not seen somebody shut down a stock market. And you know what’s going to happen the day after one of those things happen? I guarantee it – you will have the cyber Patriot Act.
You will all of a sudden have a Congress that has been sitting on its behind doing what it does best right now, which is nothing, responding with a whole bunch of draconian measures that will impact privacy, impact how the economy works. Think about it. Nobody at the NSA was sitting there going, gee, if we go and scoop up all of these phone calls we may blow up the Internet. But that’s precisely what they did because the reaction to the revelations that came out with Snowden was that countries around the world said: We’re not playing anymore in this game. Brazil, the Brazilian government said: We’re not going to buy software from U.S. companies to connect our government to other people. It cost Microsoft a billion dollars, just that one decision.
But they also said, we’re going to get together with other people. We’re going to create an Internet backbone of our own. We don’t want to be on the U.S. Internet backbone. And it fueled something in other countries that we decry today. We say, oh, look, at the Chinese. They’re trying to control their Internet. That’s not the vision we had of the Internet that takes down borders and opens things up and connects the world. But you want to know what it is? For them, it’s the future and it’s their natural right as sovereigns. And so in China – the great firewall of China is an extension of an ideology that might be adopted by people. In fact, our cyber internationalism is now being confronted by cyber nationalism. It is leading to a Balkanization of the Internet.
Well, that’s not just relevant to Google. The vast majority of economic activity on the planet takes place on the Internet – social activity, political activity, military activity. It takes place on the Internet. But we don’t have even the fundamentals we need to formulate strategy about this. In the 1950s if you went into the government and you were going into a national security job, you had to speak throw-weight. You had to know what nuclear policy was. But today at the highest levels of government people don’t understand cyber. They don’t understand the new technologies. They don’t understand the implications of big data.
Big data changes everything – everything. Every company on the stock exchange is undervalued because every company has a data asset because every company is gathering data from sensors in everything that it makes or does or has. That data asset shows up on not one balance sheet. The data liabilities show up nowhere. We can’t have a discussion about this if people aren’t trained to do it, if they don’t understand it. And when we have a discussion in Washington about issues that involve science and technology, what we get is a glazed expression. When Mike Hayden went in and he briefed people in the early days of the cyber threat, he said people looked back at him like he was Rain Man, OK? (Laughter.) And that’s because we’re not doing science and technology in Washington.
I did a study of the top 10 think tanks in Washington for 10 years – everything that they did, every event, every document, study, everything they did – 12,000 items. By far the least represented was science and technology, with 150 items out of 12,000 over 10 years. The think tanks aren’t thinking. Now, we know why, right? Think tanks actually don’t do thinking – Atlantic Council notwithstanding, the best of all the think tanks. (Laughter.) But most think tanks are meat lockers where we store bureaucrats in case we need them later on in the future, OK? (Laughter.) They’re not taking those risks. And most of the people in those think tanks were trained in social sciences and they were trained in old models.
And we’re entering a new model world where war and peace and economics and monetary policy and governance and human rights, the nature of a society, the nature of a community, the nature of an individual is changing much more rapidly than we understand. We’re not having a dialogue. We don’t even have the philosophical underpinnings. It was 320 years from Gutenberg to the First Amendment. During that time, we had a few little discussions about it. We had the benefit of John Locke and the Glorious Revolution. We had the benefit of trying to understand whether the First Amendment was important and how it would affect our society.
Tell me the last time you sat in some grove with a bunch of philosophers, you know – well, perhaps you did. (Laughter.) But the reality is, it’s not happening for most people in most places. We need the philosophical underpinnings. We need leaders who are trained in science and technology. We need think tanks in Washington that are thinking about it. We need foresight organizations that have the capability and the bandwidth and the mission to deal with these things. And we need to recognize that it’s not terrorism, it’s not today’s politics, it’s not the temporal issues that are going to affect U.S. interests most profoundly over the course of the next decades, or affect the global interests most profoundly. It’s these other factors, which require different people and a different conversation.
Thanks very much for allowing me to share these thoughts. (Applause.)
MR. SCHWARTZ: That was great, David. That’s a tough one to follow, I got to say. Cool war, that’s a – I don’t know if you’ve heard that one before, I hadn’t. But that’s a keeper – cool war. So we’ve gone from cold war to hot war to cool war. Hmm, I’ll have to play with that one.
OK. Our next two and final two speakers are going to speak together – Josh Marcuse and Zyika Krieger. The floor is yours.
ZYIKA KRIEGER: Thank you, everyone, for joining us here today. That’s a tough act to follow. I guess we’ll wait for our slides to show up. There we go. One more screen – one, two, three, there we go.
So my name is Zyika Krieger. I’m a senior adviser for policy at the State Department. And I run the Political Military Strategy Office over there. The first slide, let’s see.
JOSHUA MARCUSE: Well, while we’re getting that working, my name is Joshua Marcuse. I’m a senior adviser for policy innovation in OSD Policy.
MR. KREIGER: There we go.
MR. MARCUSE: And we throw these slides up here to show where we are. And the key thing to take away from this is that we are very, very small cogs in vast machines. And we say that as a caveat because what we’re saying represents our views and certainly not that of almost everyone that we work with. (Laughter.)
MR. KREIGER: And part of our jobs in these vast bureaucracies is to think about how we can bring innovation to places that are generally hamstrung by conventional wisdom, bureaucracies, processes, and the same way of doing things for years and years if not decades. And so in our capacities as, you know, innovation consultants, as we’re often referred to, we’ve come out with a number of observations. I think we’re having some trouble with this – there we go.
We’ve come up with a number of observations as to how one might drive solutions in government. The title of this session is called imagining solutions. And so we’ve really canvassed the field, whether it’s in – all across government, and thought about what are the ways in which government approaches solutions in trying to address some of our biggest challenges.
MR. MARCUSE: Thanks very much, Zyika.
So we’re going to run these through rapid-fire, seven important ideas that we’ve distilled from observing what we think many leaders are dong now in the national security establishment. First and foremost, we’ve seen the importance of thinking big, of having big and bold innovative ideas that are as significant as the challenge that we face. Second, we know the importance of starting with the end in mind, having that goal focus and that goal orientation and knowing now where we’re trying to go and having that clear and efficient linear path from the present to the future.
We know it’s important to measure twice and cut once, to have precision and accuracy and make sure that we’re not making, you know, the mistakes that we need to – I know.
MR. KREIGER: I know what’s the problem with this slide. There we go. There you go.
MR. MARCUSE: Measure twice and cut once. All right, we know that it’s critically important to understand all the technical information and the detail and to prepare and to plan and to make sure that our solutions really are measured out to face the challenges that we need. And as we do that, we know how critical it is to be bold and to be decisive and to make decisions and to stick to them and to have certainty about the direction that we need to go in and not to shy away from these immense challenges that we need to face in this increasingly complex and changing world that David described for you.
We know that it’s important to focus on the solution, that we have all these new and emerging technologies that give us this unprecedented power, and we need to make sure that we’re using the best technologies that we have to come up with the most intricate and complex solutions that are equal to the complexity of the problems they’re trying to solve.
And we also know the importance of trusting in experts. Here we are in this think tank filled with people that have dedicated their lives to amassing a vast amount of technical expertise in their specific region or function, and we know how important it is to incorporate this expertise into the decision-making process, the planning process and to the strategic planning process.
And last, and I’m so glad that David mentioned it, we need to leverage data analytics. We’re right now essentially drifting in a sea of data. And we need to understand how to use that data to make better choices. And we believe there’s so much promise in big data and big data analytics.
MR. KRIEGER: So I saw a lot of you nodding your head. I’m sure you’ve come across these and seen their power and utility in government in confronting our complex challenges. The problem is that all of these principles are wrong. (Laughter.) These are the – oh, I heard a yes in the background. (Laughs.) Hopefully you didn’t see that we were baiting you. These principles – there are definitely times where they are useful and where they are important, but they also are not the full story. They’re not what we need to engage with and counter the complexity and the challenges of the world that we face today.
So instead of thinking big, how about thinking small? How about narrowing down on what are actually the genuine needs that we’re trying to address with our policies. Instead of starting with the end in mind, how about starting in the unknown? How about thinking – not knowing where you’re going to end up, but being willing to learn through the policy making process? Instead of measure twice and cut once, instead of being very deliberative and only putting a policy or program out there when you know that it’s perfect, why don’t you start with a rough prototype, learn from your experience and iterate from that?
Instead of being bold and decisive and picking that one idea that’s going to – you’re going to put out there, place lots of small bets, spread the risk and see what works in the real world. Instead of just focusing on the solution, find the right problem. Sometimes we’re spending all this energy and getting spun up on what’s actually the wrong problem to begin with. Leveraging data and analytics is important, but we need to complement that with human insight and experience – real world, on the ground, what’s happening, really broadening our perspectives.
And with experts – experts are important, but if we keep going back to the same well, if we keep opening that meat locker, as David pointed out, we’re just going to be coming up with the same ideas. So let’s broaden the pool of the people that we talk to and the people that we include in the policymaking process.
MR. MARCUSE: So the danger that we have, that we face, that each of us face every day working in government is that when we have leaders that are applying the first set of principles which, on face, appear to be quite dynamic, inspiring and encouraging, it leads us to a path that is fundamentally disconnected from the people whose needs we’re trying to meet, from the problems we’re trying to solve and from the decisions that we’re trying to make.
What we experience so often is the following meeting: We see there’s leader at the head of the room. He or she is coming in with a set of assumptions and premises of what they believe the right answer is. They’re surrounded by people whose job it is primarily to staff that leader. The meeting begins. The leader spends a considerable amount of time stating what they believe the problem is, and then a small number of the people in the room get to say something. Usually they’re the people that are both formally at the top of the hierarchy and informally at the top of the hierarchy.
We know this is a system that is biased towards men, especially white men, towards extroverts, towards people who are physically taller – towards all these things that are exogenous to the value and the quality of the ideas that they have. And when they’re not talking to tell the leader what the leader probably wants to hear, they’re planning their rebuttal to what the other person is about to say. Most of the people in the room never get to say a word. Many voices are silenced. Many perspectives are excluded.
And we think that that’s one of the reasons why we are having the problems that we’re having. What we want to suggest is that there’s a totally different way to make decisions, to gather information to consider alternatives. And we want to present that idea to you today. This is the solution.
MR. KRIEGER: This is – (laughter) – what we are going to present to you today, the solution lies in a very complex high-tech piece of hardware that is used all across the private sector, but which is actually quite forward-leaning and cutting edge within the federal government. It’s taken years of expertise to hone. And the solution is this – a Post-it Note. So the Post-it Note – how can a stack of Post-it Notes solve the problems that we’ve been talking about today, or at least show us a new way of thinking about it?
Post-it Notes are the primary tool in an approach that’s called design thinking, which is something that came out of the private sector, which has historically been more about product design and service design. And Josh and I, along with a number of other forward-leaning folks across government, have been thinking about can we take the best principles of design thinking and apply them to policymaking?
MR. MARCUSE: This is a gift for you, Fred. You guys are doing a lot of innovative work here at the Atlantic Council and you’ll use these sticky notes very well.
So what are the advantages of this design thinking approach? The first is that it’s all about continually framing and reframing a problem. We spend more time asking ourselves whether we have the right question than talking about whether we have the right answer. And what we found is that this has led to a chain reaction, a domino effect of encouraging leaders to think about different kinds of questions and explore different solutions. And often within a couple of hours we can find out that the question that was brought to us by our leaders was not in fact the question that they really wanted to ask. And we bring them a set of solutions and alternatives, in addition to what they asked for, that gets us a lot closer to solving the root cause of the issue at hand. It leads to a fundamentally different set of questions and a more creative approach.
Synthesizing diverse perspectives and disciplines – this is a great way to bring in outside perspectives and invite them into the conversation, include a diversity of points of view. In contrast to the meeting that I described, this is a way for everyone to contribute their ideas – and not just two or three or four or five ideas, but we’ve literally run sessions where we’ve generated hundreds of ideas in an hour or less. And under these circumstances it’s totally anonymous, egalitarian and rankless. So the best ideas filter to the top automatically.
We use these tools and techniques to gather deep stakeholder insight. Instead of focusing on the memo or the talking points or the paper, we’re actually spending most of our time doing ethnographic research with the users. We’re actually talking to the people that are the consumers and the implementers of the policy, as well as many other stakeholders in this system or ecosystem of ideas that have a point of view on this. And we find ways to bring them into the conversation.
And it facilitates a radical degree of collaboration. We bring in all these different people and all their different voices and use these different techniques – visual thinking and metaphor and facilitation and even improv and all these other different approaches from across all human disciplines – and we bring them together to be part of these conversations.
MR. KRIEGER: One of the most salient features of design thinking is it flattens hierarchies, which means that it’s not about who’s the most important person in the room, but who has the best ideas. Of course, this is government so the flattening is only temporary, but it’s temporary in the sense that it flattens hierarchies for the sake of the idea generation and the creative process.
We also, as Josh mentioned, have – design thinking has tools to generate lots of creative solutions, to take what we’ve learned through stakeholder engagement and bring in those diverse perspectives and turning them into many creative solutions. Then there’s also tools to take those hundreds of ideas that Josh talked about and to prioritize strategically – whether that’s by feasibility or by impact or difficulty or other metrics that we’ve set out – that we’ve set out. We know how to choose from this vast collection of creativity that we’ve facilitated.
And then a key component of design thinking is that you need to iterate rapidly. You need to fail fast, cheap and smart. You need to take an idea and instead of polishing it and polishing and polishing it and co-ording (ph) it, as we say in the State Department, you actually get it out there as fast as possible, see what works, see what doesn’t, and do it again even better, and as rapidly as possible.
So those are just some of the concepts that design thinking helps enable. And there’s a whole toolbox of things that the private sector has been using for years that we’re just starting to apply to government. And so you might be thinking, OK, sounds great. Sounds pretty abstract, but does this actually work? What kind of problems have you applied it to? And between Josh and I, we’ve probably led dozens if not more different sessions and different processes trying to pilot out design thinking for policymaking. So we’ll go through – just quickly give you a taste of some of the issues the issues that we’ve tackled.
MR. MARCUSE: We worked with a group of a hundred strategists from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. We brought them in different groups. We did A/B testing on different ideas. Here’s a group of people that are tackling the question of: How should DOD assess risk? Here’s one we did with the White House for the Joining Forces Initiative, on rethinking how the White House can best support veterans when they return. You know, this is us in the EEOB, and you can see there’s a lot of different people all working on different sets there. We did one on mitigating cognitive bias in the defense planning process and how to better leverage red teams. This is a picture taken from an innovation lab in the basement of the Office of Personnel Management.
MR. KRIEGER: This is a session that we did about how we can improve State Department input into the DOD plans and operations, working with a hundred foreign policy advisers, senior Foreign Service officers that embed within the military commands. Just yesterday Josh and I actually spent a few days working with a group of folks from DOD and the State Department to redesign how we build our partners’ militaries, how we – the whole process for U.S. security assistance. And lastly, actually a few weeks ago, we led a session right here, in this exact room – you might recognize that pillar, it’s right over there – with the Atlantic Council young leaders group, the Millennium Leadership group on how to reform NATO to meet 21st century security challenges.
And so that’s just a small sampling of different projects that we’ve used – different challenge sets that we’ve tackled. And using these tools we’ve been able to generate really creative and out-of-the-box ideas that matches the complexity of the challenges. And so, just to end our presentation, our real philosophy behind this is that you can’t come up with new ideas using the same old tools, having the same old people in the room. To quote – it’s always safe to end a presentation on innovation quoting Albert Einstein, who said, “No problem can be solved from the salve level of consciousness that created it.”
So really what we’re encouraging here is breaking out of the box, looking at things from new ways, because the challenges that we face in the future demand new thinking, new ideas, new stakeholders, new perspectives. And so we hope that by bringing new tools to the table we can really help bring some new ideas into the conversation. Thank you very much.
MR. MARCUSE: Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. SCHWARTZ: Yep. So we still have time for a few questions and comments. That was terrific. Three different directions, but like you, Alessandra, I find the future of cities really interesting. Most of the world will be in cities by the middle of the century. And cities actually solve problems. There was a terrific book published last year, “If Mayors Ran the World,” (sic; “If Mayors Ruled the World”) by Ben Barber, right? And he makes the point that, you know, it’s actually the mayors who solve the day-to-day problems of live – education, infrastructure, environment and so on.
Our strategy as a company is focused on the 50 biggest cities in the world, rather than the seven biggest nations in the world, because that’s where the economy is growing, where innovation is happening. So I see that as a very important set of ideas. And like you, the way of rethinking the model of cities is also coming out of the United States. An architect named Peter Calthorpe reinventing the design of cities and the new urbanism. Do you see these ideas taking hold as you talk about them around the world?
MS. OROFINO: Absolutely. I was actually just at Oxford at a panel with Ben Barber. And we discussed this at length. I think that there’s more and more stakeholders recognizing the importance of cities. I think there is less people recognizing the importance of citizens. So that’s something that we still need to fight for. I don’t want to live in a world where mayors rule the world, and I told Ben Barber that – (laughs) – although I do think that mayors should have more power and bigger budgets and more decision-making power in general.
But I also think that we need to keep them accountable. And oftentimes it is at a city level that mafias and other kinds of not very interesting groups that wield a lot of power have the most influence, because they’re very close to home. It’s very hard to wind – to sort of keep a mayor outside of that terrible political environment sometimes, unless people are knocking on his or her door.
And one thing that also came up when I was speaking with him is that oftentimes the right mayor wants to do the right thing, but there is no political space for it. And there is an element of making them do it, right? Like when you are – when you want to advance social change, and that is true in cities and it’s true outside of cities too, sometimes you have to rely on allies inside of government, like many of you are. But you also have to give them the political space to do whatever it is that you want them to do.
And that often comes from organizing people effectively, so when they’re negotiating internally they can say: This is not me trying to create a change. This is the 20,000 people that are at my door, right? And that changes the conversation internally as well.
MR. SCHWARTZ: David, so like you I think we got wrong after 9/11. We passed the bin Laden tax, which was the biggest tax increase in U.S. history. We pay it every time we go through the airport. Every single citizen pays it. Most of the world pays the bin Laden tax. We taxed ourselves – or we didn’t actually tax, we borrowed a couple trillion dollars that we’re going to have to pay off to pay the bin Laden tax.
Somehow or other we got ourselves really twisted sideways about this. You know, there were big challenges and it was important, but somehow or other – like you, I have this sense that it so changed our consciousness that it has distorted U.S. politics, global politics in way that were thoroughly wrongheaded. But you introduced an idea that I think we have to follow up on. So what’s the strategy that’s the equivalent of containment for the cool war?
MR. ROTHKOPF: Well, I don’t think there is. I mean, you know, containment was a strategy that was directed at a country. And we still have containment challenges around the world. I think part of, you know, a successful Iran strategy will involve containing the threats they pose regionally, even as we try to engage them where we can engage them. So I think we’ll continue to do that.
I think, first of all, we have to recognize the nature of cool war. And we then have to recognize where the threats are coming from and how do we deal with them. We’re not at that point yet. I mean, we don’t have a fundamental doctrine, right? Can you respond to a cyber attack with a kinetic response? We don’t have fundamental elements of response.
So for example, we don’t have a deterrence. You know, the White House has announced a deterrence policy which is – you know, it’s a sham. You know, we did – the policy turns on naming and shaming, which has proven to be extremely effective in Mrs. Smith’s first grade class when somebody steals a cookie.
MR. SCHWARTZ: But Kim Jong-un doesn’t seem to be deterred by that.
MR. ROTHKOPF: Right. You know, nor will Vladimir Putin or other people be. We have to figure out what actually deters people from undertaking these kind of attacks. We’re not there yet.
We also need to understand what our strategic tools and objectives are. So for example in cool – in traditional war, in total war, the objective was to destroy enemy. In cool war, the objective may be just to give your opponent a low-grade infection, right? Just bring them down a couple of points. Just shave a bit off of GDP. Just shut down this component in their social development. We’re not there yet. And the players are just lining up on the field. So you don’t have a strategy, you know, of containment unless you have an enemy that needs to be contained.
I can tell you this, we probably shouldn’t fall into the same traps we did before where the United States thinks it can handle everything unilaterally. There are probably international mechanisms that will help us do this better. There is no way to do it with the public sector alone. The private sector is the primary target in these attacks, the primary knowledge-holder in terms of the tools that are available to us, the primary whistleblower to announce that an attack has happened. Right now, they don’t seem to be willing to do that in most cases.
So you need international mechanisms, public-private mechanisms, understanding at the top level, understanding who’s the other player before we can even get to answering questions like the one you just asked.
MR. SCHWARTZ: I’m going to warn Carl Bildt, because I’m going to come back to you, Mr. Minister, in a moment. For those of you who don’t know, Carl chaired a committee – a commission on the future of the Internet. And I’d like you to respond to the same question, what you might think about strategy for a cool war, because it’s, I know, something that you are deeply engaged in and very significant.
Gentlemen, design thinking – I totally agree. I operate something called scenario planning that builds on that same idea. We use it in our software development. So what’s the likelihood that actually – you know, we saw a lovely number of sessions there. I’m very familiar with the processes. I’m actually a fellow of the Design Council, buy everything you’re saying. Is it actually happening? Are people – do you think it’s going to change the practices and norms of engagement and creativity within the government?
MR. MARCUSE: Yes. (Laughter.)
MR. SCHWARTZ: Say more.
MR. KRIEGER: I would say that – (laughs) – yes, and –
MR. SCHWARTZ: What happens if you guys leave? No, I’m serious. What happens if you guys leave? Is anybody going to follow up on this, or are you two creative engines that will just disappear and all this will fade away?
MR. MARCUSE: Real quick, and then Zyika’s turn. My background was actually in change management before it was in design. And so at the moment that we recognized the value of this, we began thinking about how to change the institutions and how to shape the people within it. So actually, we created what we called a design and innovation practice, where there are 50 people that have been trained in these methods.
And our focus is how do we build leaders and advocates throughout the organization and spread those little islands of practitioners throughout the building. So we are being very intentional in trying to figure out how to seed this throughout. But obviously I recognize it’s going to be a challenge. It’s a challenge now and it will continue to be an uphill slog for us.
MR. KRIEGER: I will say that, you know, in the world of national security, the way to show that an idea has really arrived is to see if it makes its way into a departmental strategy document. And I tried hard, but to no avail, to get it into the QDR, which came out last year – (laughter) –when I worked in the strategy office at OSD Policy. However, I’m proud to report that the QDDR, which is the State Department’s quadrennial review, which came out yesterday, does have an entire section on design thinking and the need to use tools like design thinking to be more innovative.
And we actually have a community of practice at the State Department, working with deputy secretary for management and folks all across the building. And actually, there are folks all across government that are doing this in departments ranging from Health and Human Services to the Office of Personnel Management to the Veterans Affairs. And so I think while maybe a year ago it would have been correct to describe it as an insurgency or a small group of creative people, it’s really catching on because people see the utility.
And it’s not just because of the quality of the solutions that we’re creating, but also in the engagement. And if we’re going to want to retain people within the workforce, millennials, people from the creative class, people from Silicon Valley, the people that we need to solve some of the threats that were talked about earlier, they demand these kind of tools in how they operate. So I think that there are definitely corners of resistance, and we can talk about that later if people are interested, but we’ve been – I think – I’d say even we have been surprised at how quickly this has been taken on, and on a broad level within the bureaucracies.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Great. Mr. Minister, so – yeah, take the mic – cool war. You and I immediately grabbed that phrase when we were sitting here.
Q: Well, it was a good phrase. We’re going to steal it and use it, because I’ve been –
MR. ROTHKOPF: Feel free.
Q: Yeah, about cool war or cool conflicts, because war is still a word that – sort for us, it’s big tank battles and armadas, and whatever. Cool conflicts, that is what we are heading into. And I very much agree with what you said on sort of the world of hyper-connectivity and what it really means. Within five years, 90 percent of the population of the world will be covered by networks, mobile broadband networks with a capacity higher than we have in most of Europe today.
And I would argue for the digital device debate that the biggest divide across the world is going to be generational one. Virtually all young people – the poorest village in the poorest parts of Africa – will have a mobile device that connects him or her to the world. And their parents won’t have a clue what’s going on. So this really changed quite a lot. And then, this is five years from now.
If you go further five years, we see the 5G networks that aren’t in existence but we see them coming. They have a capacity of at least a hundred – factor hundred for these particular networks. And then it starts to be really mind boggling. And then the biggest resources for development that’s going to be competition of is going to be, as you said, data and spectrum. Data and spectrum are going to be the key resources – how to utilize them for nations and business and for others.
And as said, conflicts of all sorts are going to be played out there – conflicts between generations, between nations, between business, between others. And for us now, to go back to where we are, extremely important to safeguard the open, secure, and safe nature of this particular network. And it is under threat. It was interesting that the Pentagon published the other day its strategy for cyber something. I haven’t read it, but it was out there three or four days ago. But I notice now that those that have read it and had an official commentary today is the Chinese government.
Now, that’s important in itself. No other government that I know of has even read it or noticed it. But the Chinese government has read it, analyzed it and is commenting upon them. And for them, cyber strategies is even more important than for any other nations, both for defensive reasons, the security of the regime, and for the economic development of the country. And we need to take these issues far more seriously than they are taking in the strategy debates all over the world, I would say, with the possible exception of China.
MR. ROTHKOPF: Peter, can I please interject?
MR. SCHWARTZ: Yes, please, go ahead.
MR. ROTHKOPF: Just 30 seconds. If there’s one thing that I want to leave you with, it’s – it follows directly on what Carl Bildt said. Within the next few years, for the first time in human history every single human being on the planet will effectively be connected in a manmade system. That is transformational at the most fundamental level.
The second thing that I’d like to say, apropos of those remarks, is we suffer in the United States from national narcissism. We think everything centers around us and that the way we’ve seen things is the way we’re going to see things. And when we mention the Chinese jumping on this and being ahead of the curve, I think we have to be cognizant of the fact that throughout human history, the economic center of gravity has also been the place of the intellectual center of gravity. And it shifted from Europe to the United States and it is surely going to shift to Europe – and it surely is going to shift to Asia.
And if you think for a moment that just because we see the Internet some way, that’s the way this is all going to evolve, it’s a mistake. They have a lot of people, a lot of countries that agree with their philosophy, which is radically different from our philosophy. Meanwhile, Europe has a completely different philosophy on privacy than we do, which is likely to catch on broadly in the world. There is a debate going on about these things that’s going to affect a broad number of things. And we’re not affecting it.
The final point I’d like to say is I spoke three or four weeks ago at the TED Conference, which was very interesting. And it’s very refreshing to go to a conference where people are talking about solutions as opposed to problems – in other words, go to a conference outside of Washington. (Laughter.) But there, there was a philosopher. And he only works with artificial intelligence specialists. And he got a group of artificial intelligence specialists together and he said: When do you think it will be that we have machine intelligence that has real autonomy associated with it? And some of them said 2030, and some said 2040, and some said 2050, and a few said 2060. None of them said another century. None of them said 200 years from now.
Within a generation, machines will have autonomy. You know, and you may think, OK, the “Terminator” movie. That’s an abstraction. This is not an abstraction. It changes the – those – you know, by then hundred billion devices on the Internet will be acting as independent agents. And that is also something that will change the nature of life on the planet, because there’ll be human-machine interface at a societal level, not at a utilitarian level, as the way we’ve had it thus far. So.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Well, you know, I was user number 70 of the ARPANET before it became the Internet. It was – I was at Stanford Research Institute –
MR. ROTHKOPF: That was Dixie cups and strings at that –
MR. SCHWARTZ: Pretty close. But we were node number two of the ARPANET. And I think the vision that we had then is now actually being fulfilled, of a highly interconnected world. And like you, I think that is really the single biggest and profound change. But you are way too conservative in terms of your view of the future of AI. We will be introducing a product this fall, our company, that is basically event-driven AIs.
Basic – and this is marketing and sales, very trivial activity, we’re not launching any weapons. But basically an autonomous intelligence will read an event and launch an action based on that, without any human intervention. It’s not big AI. It’s little AI. A little bit of intelligence supplied in a lot of places. So that world is already here. September we – and we’re not unique. There’ll be a lot of companies doing what we do.
MR. ROTHKOPF: Just quoting a guy, you know. Don’t forget. (Laughter.)
MR. SCHWARTZ: Yeah, so it’s already there.
Let me ask, do we have time for any questions or comments from the audience? OK, so let’s take those three and get them all up here and then we’ll ask everyone to respond. Not you? You’ve changed your mind? OK, right here and then right over here. How are we doing on time?
MR. SCHWARTZ: OK. The floor is yours. Yeah, there is your mic.
Q: Thank you. I’m Harlan Ullman from the Atlantic Council. Is this thing on? Magic, good. I’m Harlan Ullman of the Atlantic Council. This discussion was very interesting and it reinforces the point that we tend to focus on symptoms not causes. September 11th, we focused on symptoms, as you pointed out. The Obama administration came in with Afghan-Pakistan strategy, symptoms not causes. We’ve had Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, symptoms not causes with the financial markets. What do you do to get elected presidents and senior members of Congress to focus on causes, not symptoms?
MR. SCHWARTZ: I’m going to ask you guys to respond to that in a moment, but we’ll get this question up here first – over here. Did you have your hand up too? OK, we’ll get – you changed your mind again? Which way – are you speaking or not speaking? You’re speaking? OK. (Laughs.)
Q: Hi. Patricia Wrightson, Georgetown University.
But I’m speaking with a hat that I don’t really have any more, which is I was at the National Academy of Sciences. And our last study was on human machine collaboration for decision making. And I have a feeling that the reason why the philosopher heard those forecasts was because they want to stay in business and they want to keep getting grants. (Laughter.)
One of my concerns about this whole conference, which I have found absolutely fascinating, is the extent to which we, as non-scientists, tend to believe that all these things are happening when really they’re not anywhere near happening. And so I just think that it’s – I just wanted to put that out, that most of the science and technology around AI, around genomics, et cetera, it certainly is in research, but – and we certainly should be thinking about it, but it’s not – there is some time to think about this.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Yeah, big AI’s going to take a long time to develop, the real brain stuff. Little bits of intelligence like one-click on Amazon, that’s here already.
Over here, and I think that’s where we’re going to have to call it, I’m sorry.
Q: Good morning. Lieutenant Colonel Scott McDonald, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps.
I read the dynamic stability paper, talked a lot about empowered individuals. In fact, it tended to represent them as a threat to the global security system rather than an aid to it. Interestingly enough, this is the first panel that’s really talked about individuals. We’ve talked about systems, technologies, national policy. Here we started talking about individuals.
And speaking from the premise that ideas rule the world, whether or not there’s technology or not that guy sitting in Savannah has an idea. And how he acts on that idea is going to change things. So my question to the panel is, speaking of empowered individuals and knowledge going forward, if our goal is to create a global strategy – a United States strategy for the security and prosperity of the United States, do we need to embrace the empowerment of individuals or do we need to control them?
MR. SCHWARTZ: OK, David, I’m going to ask you to respond to that in a moment, but I’ll ask you to respond to the first comment over here.
MR. KRIEGER: Do you want to go first?
MR. MARCUSE: Sure. You know, I’m not much of an athlete, but I’ve often been told, you know, you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take. Well, I would say in answer to your question, Harlan, you know we answer zero percent of the questions that we don’t ask. And so I would say that the way that we focus more on root causes is we have to encourage more dialogue about those root causes. And I would submit that actually I really admire the leaders we have now that are asking those questions.
The challenge there is that the answers to those questions aren’t focused on and elevated and given the emphasis that they need. And so my hope is that by using the design thinking methodology that we are advocating we will create a greater demand signal for questions that focus on the root causes of things and that that will have an effect that reverberates throughout the system. But thank you for asking that question, because it’s exactly the right one.
MR. SCHWARTZ: David.
MR. ROTHKOPF: OK, I’m going to just jump in and answer Harlan’s question a little bit too. It might help if we hired people in top jobs who’ve actually managed something before. You know, in Washington the greatest error we make is that we believe the notion that the ability to articulate and idea is the same thing as the ability to get something done. And you know, managers tend to know this. And you know, obviously the people play a role in this, which relates to your question about empowering the individual.
We don’t get to choose. The individuals will be empowered and then the world that Carl was describing, you know, with some degree of the AI and, you know, 5G connections and other things at their disposal, they’re going to have much, much, much more power than they have ever had. Having said that, there have been books out there that talk about the end of power. And they say, well, you know, governments aren’t going to have power and so forth. And that’s just crap, right? You know, if you have a lot of money and you have a lot of technology, you’re going to have more power than you did before.
And so we’re going to see a redistribution, a diffusion. And I think the real changes we’re going to see are in the character of international relations, the character of relations between any groups. They will be accelerated. Volatility will be enhanced. Effects will be amplified. Time scales will be shortened. Things will be decentralized. So you know, I would say, look – you know, look at changes in the character.
And then you’re going to have to go back to the basics and say, you know, where – what are our national objectives? What are the threats to those objectives? What are the means by which we achieve those objectives and how do we do that in the environment, to go back to Peter’s very elegant analogy – even though I was once a powerboat owners – which is, sorry, I do agree –
MR. SCHWARTZ: (Stinkpots ?), we call them.
MR. ROTHKOPF: Right, the – you know, the two best moments in a boat owner’s life are the day you buy the boat and the day you sell the boat. (Laughter.) But the analogy is right. We’ve got to look at the changing environment and set our course accordingly.
MR. SCHWARTZ: I think we – unfortunately we have to call it there to allow time for the final conversation. So join me in thanking the participants in this conversation. (Applause.)
MR. CHIU: So let me ask you – again, thank you so much for this panel. I really enjoyed this one. I know I’m a little bit biased, but I really enjoyed this one.