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Strategist and Senior Fellow with Washington, D.C.-Based Think Tank visits USTRANSCOM

Dr. P.W. Singer, strategist and senior fellow with New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank and civic enterprise, discusses the trends shaping 21st century conflict during his presentation Sept. 19 at U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

Dr. P.W. Singer, strategist and senior fellow with New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank and civic enterprise, spoke to members of U.S. Transportation Command and its component commands Sept. 19, at USTRANSCOM, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

He’s an expert in cybersecurity, cyberwar, and changes in 21st-century warfare, as well as the author of multiple award-winning books. The Wall Street Journal described him as “the premier futurist in the national-security environment.”

Singer opened his presentation discussing how every single person is a futurist, and that the choices individuals make determine the future. He then transitioned to identifying the forces today shaping tomorrow, including technology, hardware, software, waveware, wetware and ransomware. 

Concerning the initial two, Singer stated “A leap-ahead technology such as a regular phone replaced by a smart phone creates a new set of questions…and as far as the next technology, what technology today is like computers were in the 1980s, when they had not yet changed the world. With hardware, there were only a handful of drones right after 9/11, and there are thousands now, with changes in their uses and changes in the form of robotic systems like the bionic bird drone.”

He subsequently spoke about the impact of artificial intelligence such as IBM’s supercomputer Watson, which beat human contestants on the quiz show Jeopardy; the employment of directed energy as a weapon like the Active Denial System; the creation of Olli, the first self-driving, 3-D printed smart bus; and Russia’s digital blockade of Ukraine in 2014. In putting all these trends together, Singer stated “rules are falling by the wayside and that’s now becoming the norm…the global race is a technology race.”

Singer was the 14th guest presenter in USTRANSCOM's 30-4-30 Distinguished Speaker Series, an initiative to celebrate the command's 30th anniversary in October 2017.

Previous participants in the 30-4-30 series include the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, the commanders of U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Strategic Command, and other senior civilian and military leaders.

USTRANSCOM provides full-spectrum mobility solutions to support the joint warfighter in times of peace and war. The command focuses on providing options to the commander-in-chief in two ways: delivering an immediate force through strategic airlift, tankers, and aeromedical evacuation; and delivering a decisive force when needed through strategic sealift and land distribution channels.

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