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Warring Futures: A Future Tense Event

How Biotech and Robotics are Transforming Today's Military -- and How That Will Change the Rest of Us

Video of  the keynote from Monday's event is posted above; please see the agenda for links to individual panel discussions.

New technologies are changing warfare as profoundly as did gunpowder.  How are everything from flying robots as small as birds to “peak warrior performance” biology altering the nature of the military as an institution, as well as the ethics and strategy of combat?  How will the adoption of emerging technologies by our forces or others affect our understanding of asymmetrical conflict?  

New technologies are always embraced wherever there is the greatest competition for advantage, but quickly move out to the rest of us not engaged in sport or warfare. At this May 24 Future Tense event -- sponsored jointly by Arizona State University, New America Foudnation, and Slate magazine -- a wide range of experts from the military, private sector and academia explored how these technologies will inevitably migrate to consumer markets and the broader culture, and what their impact will be.

A more-detailed event summary will be posted here shortly. For additional reading on this topic, please see the following Slate.com articles:


8:30 Continental Breakfast and Registration

9:00 Welcome

  • David Plotz, Editor, Slate magazine

9:15  Panel One – What’s Coming at Us (Video)

  • Vice Admiral Joseph W. Dyer (U.S. Navy, Ret.), President, Government & Industrial Robots Division, iRobot, (with robots)
  • Jon Mogford, Acting Deputy Director, Defense Sciences Office, DARPA
  • Stephen Helms Tillery, Harrington Department of Bioengineering, Arizona State University
  • Moderator: Steve Coll, President, New America Foundation

10:45:  Break

11:00  Panel Two – The Transformative Impact on the Military (Video)

  • Major General Robert E. “Rooster” Schmidle Jr., USMC lead for the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review
  • P. W. Singer, Senior Fellow and Director, 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution; author, “Wired for War”
  • Fred Kaplan, “War Stories” Columnist, Slate
  • Moderator: Susan Glasser, Editor-in-Chief, Foreign Policy

12:30  Lunch Keynote: "Bugs, Bits and Engineering Bioforms: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (Video)

  • George Poste, Chief Scientist, Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative, Arizona State University

1:30 Panel Three – Blowback: Military Technologies Enter Civilian Life (Video)

  • Braden Allenby, Founding Chair, The Consortium on Emerging Technologies, Military Operations and National Security,  Arizona State University
  • Robert Wright, author, “The Evolution of God” and Global Governance Fellow, New America Foundation
  • Daniel Sarewitz, Co-Director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University
  • Moderator: Will Saletan, National Correspondent, Slate magazine

3:00  Adjourn

Event Time and Location

Monday, May 24, 2010 - 8:30am - 3:00pm
The Army and Navy Club
901 17th Street NW Farragut Square
Washington, DC 20006

Event Photos

Click here to view these photos.
A range of photos from this event are available on Flickr. Click on the icon at left to view or download the photos.

Video Clips

See video
Video of Panel 2
See video
Video of Keynote Speech
See video
Video of Panel 3