The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Energy has been a central defining element for all civilizations. Events since the Industrial revolution have made it the central element of ours. The generation, dispersal, and use of energy have the most serious consequences for our individual, national and global economic well-being, security, and health. Our president, and many political and thought leaders, have postulated that the key to dealing with all of these issues successfully is the discovery, development and use of technology. However, technology is a necessary but not sufficient condition for realizing an energy future that addresses all these concerns. The other necessary ingredient is wise policy in both the private and public sectors, that is, policy that embodies past experience and the recognition of an unavoidably uncertain future. Our history, both in corporations and government, however, is that policies fail to accomplish their intended objectives at an alarming frequency. How can we overcome this limitation? Johnston argues that we can by embracing failure. We must have a better understanding of both the inevitability of failure in R&D and policy, as well as how it can contribute to the evolution of our understanding, an increase in our wisdom, and more robust solutions. Johnston will talk a bit about technology and about how a more a systematic approach to thinking about failure in complex systems could enable us to more effectively pursue technology as well as formulate and evolve policy.