How would you like the job of predicting the future, with billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, and maybe even national security at stake? How would you like that responsibility?
A little too much? Well, you’re right, the future per se is too much to know in advance. So, let’s narrow the job down to predicting the future of, not everything, just the science and technology part.
Well, our guest today, Daniel Gerstein has had that job – seeing to the end of future scientific and technological blind allies, finding concepts with a clearer path ahead, and sometimes, seeing around corners – preparing for something logically possible, but still unknown.
He’s done this for the Pentagon in the context of rethinking military tactics for the 21st century and for the Department of Homeland Security brokering a marriage of new tactics and new technologies to counter terrorism.
But that apparently didn’t keep him busy enough. He started to think about what he was doing.
No, not the everyday questions of how to speed up decision-making and battlefield response in wartime or how to ward off malign intrusions of America’s borders, banks or power grids. Of course, he gave a lot of thought to that stuff.
But in addition, he started thinking about what he was doing when he was doing his job? How does one predict the future of science and technology? How does one assess in the urgency of various needs, the state of the sciences addressing them, the availability of the skills or materials needed to make a technological idea work, the value the market will place on a “solution” to that original “need?”
And beyond that, what does one mean by “science,” and how is it different from technology, especially when it comes to their care and feeding?
These questions are addressed in Daniel Gerstein’s new book The Story of Technology: How We Got Here and What the Future Holds.
Daniel Gerstein is a national security professional who has served as a senior government civilian, in uniform, in industry, in think tanks and in academia. As a senior government civilian, he served in the Department of Homeland Security as Under Secretary (Acting) and Deputy Under Secretary in the Science and Technology Directorate where he directed the organization’s over $1 billion annual budget. During his service in the U.S. Army, he served on four continents while participating in combat, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and homeland security and served for more than a decade in the Pentagon in various high-level staff assignments. Dr. Gerstein also has extensive experience in international negotiations having served on the Holbrooke Delegation that negotiated the peace settlement in Bosnia. He is a frequent national security contributor and has published numerous books, articles and commentaries on a wide variety of national and homeland security issues. He serves as a member of several corporate boards and advisory committees. His recent book is The Story of Technology: How We Got Here and What the Future Holds