I’ve been to auto shows in Detroit and air shows in Paris, but SXSW Interactive in Austin is a first. I’ll be heading there this weekend to talk Saturday afternoon about the fiction and non-fiction work I’ve been doing around the future of warfare. The talk will draw heavily from my work with Peter W. Singer on Ghost Fleet, our novel that comes out in June. We’ll focus on technology, but also how to go about creating alternative futures that have a foundation rooted in today’s realities. The conference is a great chance to talk to leading innovators, designers and thinkers about the future of defense and security — and the role the latest inventions and creations will play.
Here’s the official blurb on our event Saturday at the Austin Convention Center:
America’s military fought insurgents and terrorists for more than a decade yet tensions between the world’s great powers now make an unthinkable global conflict a real consideration. Take a tour of the high- and low-tech weapons of the next world war with renowned futurist and strategist Peter W. Singer and former Wall Street Journal reporter and defense analyst August Cole. Moderated by Dave Anthony, the acclaimed director of the best-selling Call of Duty games, the discussion will explore the wartime role of Silicon Valley startups, Americans as 21st Century insurgents, how a junkyard hot-rod mindset can save the Air Force and Navy from defeat, the art of zero-gravity combat and the critical role cyber warriors in and out of uniform will play in the next world war’s decisive battles. With unique perspectives informed by the highest levels of defense policy, journalism and entertainment, the panel will go inside the battlefield tech of tomorrow.
It has been more than 30 years since China began to open up to the rest of the world yet there are still glaringly off-limits areas where censorship and foreign involvement are taboo. Video games don’t usually make that list. That is why it is a big deal to more than just teens that the Chinese government is going to allow sales of Microsoft’s Xbox One video game consoles. Video games are a global force to be reckoned with in terms of dollars, worth up to $18 billion annually in China according to Bloomberg. Hardware is one thing, but the increasing cultural relevance of the games themselves are the story here.
At least we all wore ties.
For writers and entertainment producers, such formality is a rare thing. But at a recent Atlantic Council event on art and the future of warfare, the seriousness of the subject warranted it. Joining award-winning science fiction author David Brin and Dave Anthony, producer of the blockbuster video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, our intent was to share how we viewed the future of warfare and what the creative cadre could do to help sharpen the thinking of creating alternative futures. One of the best steps is to take a closely held assumption and turn it on its head. Doing so should be both uncomfortable and exciting, and made easier by envisioning a world 30 years out, rather than 10 years.
As the 21st Century so far proved again and again, surprise is no longer a surprise. Moreover, how many times has somebody said out loud while reading a news headline, “You can’t make this up!” That is our future, and it is one that will require greater discipline, creativity and agility from the national security community. It is a concept the Atlantic Council takes seriously through its Strategic Foresight initiative, and it is worth paying close attention to.
Watch the Webcast of the Atlantic Council event.