Army Assembles 'Mad Scientist' Conference. Seriously.
Last August, the U.S. Army held a three-day conference in Portsmouth, Virginia, to look at new developments in military science and hardware. The confab was called the "Mad Scientist Future Technology Seminar." Really. It was. "The objective of the seminar was to investigate proliferating technologies with the potential to empower individuals and groups in the next 10-25 years," according to an unclassified summary of the Mad Scientist gathering, obtained by Danger Room. As you'd expect from such a colorfully-titled gathering, the collected brains predicted a world in which individuals would have easy access to everything from ray guns to nano-bots to bioengineered weapons to arms for creating international chaos online. "The U.S. must accept the reality that it can no longer assume technological superiority over the rest of the world. Ready access to scientific information and technological know-how has and will continue to level the playing field," the Mad Scientist summary notes. "In the operational environment of 2030 and beyond, the destructive/disruptive capability of the individual and small group will be more effective, more lethal, more easily developed/acquired, more efficiently delivered, and more easily concealed and transported... Individuals with access to the global information grid can easily acquire the knowledge needed to develop lethal bio agents, literally in their kitchen sink.Nanotechnology and robotics will offer opportunities to introduce and spread bio and chemical agents into targeted populations." Turning to forward-looking thinkers is a time-honored government tradition. Shortly after 9/11, for instance, the Army met with Hollywood screenwriters and directors to forecast terrorist scenarios. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security held a gathering of science-fiction writers to solicit advice on which technology programs to fund. In comparison, the Mad Scientist gathering of Ivy League researchers, defense contractors, think tankers, and NASA scientists seems rather conventional. The Mad Scientist group sees more than just a world of danger in the 2030s. "Most likely results include an increased life span, a solution to the energy crisis, ready availability of food and fresh water to all, a global distribution of technology, education, economics, and -- therefore -- wealth. This will reduce the tension between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' while the capabilities of robotics and access to virtual reality to both care for and entertain will create the perception of well-being almost universally around the globe. Advancements are limited only by imagination and resources." Who knows what they'll dream up after that?