Milken Institute’s Global Conference: Reflections

Milken Institute’s Global Conference: Reflections
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If I had to pick one take away from the Global Conference, it would center on the concept of change.  Literally, the concept of change itself is changing.  The speed of change is accelerating.  The speed of this acceleration is mind boggling.  It is further mind boggling that the emerging change revolution is occurring along so many fronts.  If the speed of change in a particular sector does not overwhelm us in the near future, the mass of change across multiple sectors of the economy and the reverberating ordered effects across all segments of human society surely will.  Much of this change centers on the growth in the power of computing that is enabling dramatic advancements in knowledge management, which is leading toward a mass of new innovative products and outcomes.  The pending change revolution will obviously have an enormous impact on all of humanity.  In this sense, the Milken Institute hit a home run in placing its focus directly on the pulse of humankind with this year’s conference appropriately entitled ‘The Future of Humankind’.  As a military officer, I have long believed that contemplating the future is a core competency of our profession.  This is and has always been an extremely difficult task, but it will only become more challenging as the speed and volume of change increases.  Most of the impacts of change will be hugely positive in changing people’s individual lives and in shaping the future of humanity.  However, there is caution to take in the fact change will soon outpace our human abilities to properly vet and integrate new technologies into our global community in the most safe and secure ways.  Some may argue that many of our recent, most advanced technologies are already experiencing a fragmentary introduction into society. 

As a result of the observable pace of current change, there is rhetorical consensus that the military of the future demands more agile and flexible leaders, but the speed of change in the emerging environment demands a reality filled with nimble and anticipatory leaders and systems.  We are moving into an era where the velocity of change occurs at such a rate where the process of change itself is capable of being weaponized.  If the change in global telecommunications and access to emerging technology during the early millennium created super empowered individuals, then the coming change will create mega-empowered individuals.  These threats will not take decades to develop and are likely to be completely unknown until it may be too late.  In addition to new threats from non-state actors, change will allow non-peer and potential peer actors access to innovations that will lead to potentially unprepared for or unanticipated outcomes.  I thank the Milken Institute for allowing me the opportunity to contemplate ‘The Future of Humankind’ through the lens of my profession as a military officer and through the minds of some of the planets greatest thinkers.  I hope my education as an attendee to the Global Conference can best be applied to helping prepare the Department of Defense for the coming change revolution in a way the will allow my fellow human beings the greatest chance at manifesting strictly the most positive products and outcomes of our world’s emerging innovation.

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