August 31, 2021 –
The digital revolution of recent decades has transformed nearly all facets of life—not least the national security environment. The volume and mass transmission of digitized information has pushed the velocity of decision-making to the limits of human capacity. National security policymakers, both civilian and military, have access to unprecedented quantities of information in near real-time. However, processing, vetting, and filtering that information has emerged as a formidable challenge. Digitization has rendered information not only an invaluable resource but a potential weapon in the global competition for power and influence. Technological democratization has empowered previously marginalized and excluded groups and non-state actors, significantly complicating the global security environment. Leaders will struggle to keep up with the furious pace of artificial intelligence and machine learning as they increasingly dominate the battlespace. Mastering the arts of peace and war in the digital world will be the epic challenge of the 21st century.
On August 31, 2021, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) program hosted a speaker session with the Honorable Sue Gordon (Former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence) as part of its SMA INSS/PRISM Speaker Series.
The vast amount of current and emerging technologies allows any individual or governing body to maximize the impact of information operations. The Honorable Sue Gordon commented that there is more technology available to the DoD than it can reasonably use. This amount of modern communication technology allows users to share information and data much faster than ever before. The amount and speed at which data is created generates new challenges for data analysts, breaks down long-standing physical boundaries between populations, and creates a new geopolitical competition focused on the collection of data—especially economic data. Data competition is a major component of the geopolitical competition between China and the US. Additionally, non-great power states and violent extremist organizations (VEOs) also have the capability to threaten the US through digital means.
She added that the changing of personnel for DoD institutions, which creates a void of institutional experience, is a potential weakness of the US bureaucratic system. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, the DoD must train its leaders to have a more technical skillset. This training should include the development of AI and best practices for using it as a decision-making tool. Ms. Gordon emphasized that the US must support its identity as the leader of the free world and not abandon traditional US values that have made it a global ideological leader since WWII.
The Honorable Sue Gordon is the former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, serving from 2017-2019, where she advised the President on intelligence matters and provided operational leadership of the 17 agencies and organizations of the Intelligence Community (IC). She is a widely respected authority on risk management, technical innovation, and cyber and space issues. Today, she is an active board member, university fellow, and advises private companies in the areas of technology, strategy, and leadership.