U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, along with experts from academia and industry, will explore the future of the Army during the Mad Scientist Conference Oct. 27 and 28 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
The conference, hosted by TRADOC’s G-2 (intelligence) and U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, will feature live-streamed discussions from a variety of experts that focus on the way ahead for the future force.
Here are four facts on the Mad Scientist Conference:
It’s about designing the Army of tomorrow
The Mad Scientist Conference studies the deep part of the operational environment – out to 2040 – to learn what TRADOC needs to take into account as it builds the future Army, said Col. Lee Grubbs, TRADOC deputy G-2.
“The ability to overmatch our potential adversaries is about ensuring that we’re fielding a cutting-edge Army in 2030,” he added.
To focus on the future, participants – at the conference and online – will discuss three components of the human dimension: individuals, teams and institutions. The individual element will address the cognitive and physical skills of the Soldier; the team element will discuss the concepts and capabilities needed to maximize training in the future; and the institution element will focus on optimizing the education of the force.
TRADOC will then look at how the information and ideas gained from the collaborative effort can be used to advance the Army.
“When the rubber meets the road, it’s about making sure that these good ideas … which are relevant, are incorporated in how we’re investing our science and technology funds so that the Soldier of 2030 is still cutting-edge,” Grubbs said.
It’s a collaborative effort
Although Army leaders are invited and encouraged to participate in the discussion, it’s even more important for the Army to talk with academics and practitioners in other fields – experts outside the Department of Defense, Grubbs said.
“We’re looking to talk to people we don’t normally connect to – to make sure we’re taking in everybody’s viewpoint; that we’re not building a blind spot and talking to ourselves.”
Attendance at the conference is limited to about 100 individuals, however live-streaming the discussions will allow a larger crowd of innovators, thinkers and experts to participate.
“Using the chat rooms to submit comments and ask questions provides a whole new opportunity to collaborate with individuals we might not normally get a chance to talk with,” Grubbs said.
It’s about asking “disruptive” questions
One of the goals of this event is to ask questions that make people think differently about the future, said Grubbs, using smartphones as an example.
“A lot of people consider the smartphone to be disruptive – it changed the way we interact with information, but it’s also changing how we fight by moving information to the edge of the battlefield,” he said. “So what’s the next smartphone? What’s the next key technology that’s going to influence how we interact as humans — to include how we fight?”
It’s a continuous process
Next week’s conference is only one event in the Mad Scientist series, an initiative that aims to continually explore the future through collaborative partnerships.
The previous Mad Scientist Conference, which was held in April at Georgetown University, focused on existing and future technologies. Two additional physical conferences are already in the works, with one focusing on cyber and another on megacities, or densely populated urban areas. In addition to the physical conference, the Mad Scientist series also has reoccurring online guest speakers followed by Q and A sessions.
“It’s not just the physical event,” Grubbs said. “We’re also doing monthly online events through the All Partners Access Network, which allows us to bring in people from across all spectrums of society.”
Videos from the series are available for viewing on TRADOC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/usarmytradoc.
To date, TRADOC G-2 has conducted four online speaking engagements with about 75-100 participants per event; however, the important part is not the event itself, but rather the outcome of the event.
“We have the events, but the important part is taking what we learn and influencing how the Army thinks about investing its science and technology dollars,” Grubbs said.
To view the schedule of speakers and topics and to participate in the upcoming Mad Scientist Conference, go to www.tradoc.army.mil/watch.