tv Robert Latiff Future War CSPAN March 30, 2018 2:40pm-3:30pm EDT
savannah book festival in georgia picky with her from several authors including bryan curtis of the 1942 rose bowl that was moved from california to north carolina after pearl harbor. scott shapiro on the peace pact of 1928 outlawed war around the world. celeste have on the importance of communication, and the relationship between sitting bull and buffalo bill. first up retired air force major general robert latiff on the future technology of war. >> good morning. my name is nancy lieb and i am delighted to welcome you to the 11th annual savannah book festival. it's presented by georgia power, david and nancy cintron, mark and pat soon. many thanks to jack and mary,
our sponsors for this glorious venue. the trinity united methodist church. we would like to extend special thanks to our literati members and individual donors who have made and continue to make saturday's free festival events possible. 90% of our revenues come from donors just like you, thank you. we are very excited to have savannah book festival out this year for your phone. please look in your program for information on downloading it. it just takes a few seconds and it would be helpful to you today. before we get started either a couple of housekeeping notes. immediately following this presentation robert latiff will be signing festival purchased copies off his book just across the way. if you are planning to stay in this venue for the next presentation, please move
forward as it can't be so ushers accurately count available seats. please take a moment to turn off your cell phone, and we also ask that you do not use lasch photography. during the question-and-answer portion please raise your hand and i will call on you and one of the ushers will bring a microphone to you. in the interest of time and to be fair to all the other attendees, please limit yourself to one question and please don't tell a story. robert latiff is with us today courtesy of hugh and fran thomas. dr. robert latiff is an adjunct faculty member at the university of notre dame, and he's the director of intelligence community programs at george masons university school of engineering. he is a a member of the air foe studies board and the intelligent community studies board of the national academies
of sciences, engineering, and medicine. please give a warm welcome to robert latiff. [applause] >> let me thank nancy and the savannah book festival for having me here. this is really an awesome event. first of all i appreciate your interest in my work. also i don't know if any of you saw the savannah morning news, there was a really nice review of an interview she had with me. as a retired military person, which i'll get to, i probably have done a thousand speeches. standing up in front of a group talking about a book is kind of like talking about your kids.
harder. but this is a really important topic, probably more so than it's ever been. i know if you read the news you hear all this talk of war. actually saw an article yesterday or the day before in one of the publications talking about drifting toward war, very much like we did before world war i. and so i think it's a frightening time and probably a very timely time to talk about my book. i'll talk about, a a little bit about why i wrote it and how i came to ride which i think is really a cool story. i always like to tell it. and then some of c the themes tt are in it. if it isn't immediately obvious to you i grew up in rural southeastern kentucky. never did get rid of the accident.
i was a product of the sputnik era. so i was all about science and technology and was interested in space and, strangely enough, nuclear weapons. somehow or the other i got into the university of notre dame. never figured that one out, but they let me in. it became immediately obvious to me that i had no means to pay for it. thus entered the army, rotc. i was going to serve my four years and get out and, a nobel prize-winning physicist. that didn't work so i stayed 32 years in the military, six of it in the army, 24 years in the air force. trained for infantry to go to vietnam. turns out i didn't go to vietnam. after my phd in notre dame i went to germany where i stood
astride hundreds divisions of soviet infantry who we are going to nuke when they came across the border. to that i actually commanded an army tactical nuclearo weapons unit that was going to hand out nukes to the firing battalions. switch to the air force, became very much involved in research, development, reconnaissance, space, intelligence, nuclear weapons and all very very high tech stuff. my crew was all about high-tech and weapons systems. why did i write the book? well, as a young 26-year-old army captain having to give nuclear weapons to people really caused me to think a little bit about my role in war. fast-forward 20 some years, i again had the opportunity to be,
opportunity if you call it that, opportunity to be involved in the release of nuclear weapons, should that ever happen. and many, many other things. but really at the fall of the berlin wall, fall of communism, write about that time we went into kuwait to kick saddam hussein out of kuwait. and you would've thought both with thatn and with the fall of communism you would've thought we had one worldld war iii the y we were acting. soii after that we sort of becoe bullies. we were the strongest nation on earth, the only remaining superpower and we let everybody know it, and that kind of bothered me. fast-forward again to 2003. that was really the crux of what bothered me was the invasion of iraq. and it's public knowledge that i
was very concerned about that. i'll get to that. i retired from the air force, we can work with the industry and began immediately think about the stuff, and called my friends at notre dame and said, i've got some issues, can we talk about? sure, you can develop a course for us. which i did. and he said not that you'd felt us, would you teach it? ancel still today, eight years later, ten years later i'm traveling back and forth to notre dame to teach young students felt war and ethics and technology. i don't know if anybody watches notre dame football, but if you do, during halftime they always highlight a student and the faculty member. my course was so popular that the on national television which was kind of cool. two minutes of fame. and that got the attention of the "new york times," and so sam
friedman, a wonderful editor of the religion section of the "new york times" interviewed me. great article. and then that caught the attention of random house. i don't know if you know anything about the publishing business, jonathan siegel is sort of, his office have seven pulitzers to their credit. i'm probably going to disappoint with this one, but john was a wonderful editor, just did marvelous things got was very nice to me, very patient. so the themes of the book. there are several themes. number one, that war as we knew it, as i knew growing up really is changing. that sort of obvious. war and technology have always
gone together. ethics is critical to soldiers. and that is a big chasm between the american military and the american people. you are saying to yourself, really? and not only that, our leaders, our political leaders. some of the subthemes, there's unfettered technology innovation, has some downsides. this coming from a lifelong geek. we were often as i i said sortf militaristic, hubristic, arrogant about our technologies, and i think arms control is hugely important. so we are mesmerized by war. we are mesmerized by technology. steel, gunpowder, submarines, stealth technology, nuclear
weapons, the computer, the internet. it was not al gore who invented the internet. it was the defense advanced projects research agency so all these things are military encourages technology and technology encourages the military. we are seduced by it. one of my favorite pictures is the picture at the apple store in york city where the new iphone comes out. they are our lines a mile long. you go ask people why they are there, because there's a, new iphone.ar just because. it.re seduced by robert oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, basically said we were just seduced by. we worried about it after we didn't. and marine general james mattis who used to be one of my heroes often said to his soldiers, you know, , you've got to forget abt
technology. you have to be able to operate on your own. he's not saying that anymore, but we have the largest defense budget in the world. larger than the next eight countries combined. and we are the largest proliferator of weapons in the world, twice as much as russia so war is different. we all know that. terrorism, guerrilla warfare, cyber warfare, intrusion in our election systems. and advanced technology like cyber end of the things are more available to more people all over the t world. people worry about cyber attacks on our electric grid. we saw what happened with sony pit anybody who's read about the stocks that virus that someone did -- stocks net. what would be closer to home.
as we have seen. and others are going to have seen technologies we have. they used to be we were way, way ahead of people. now it's fairly obvious that countries like china are really being as badly in some very high technology areas so machines in some form will watch for us. i worked in an organization that build spy satellites, so they will be watching all the time. that's not only at. pretty much everything in the world now his instrument and connected to the internet. all you have to do is go on internet and look at the data. machines are going to think for us. in the military and in the intelligence business, machine learning and artificial intelligence are going to sort of give us the answers and it will be up to us to say yes or
no. they are going to fight for us. we even today see robots on the battlefield. fortunately, the robots on the battlefield and the drones are all controlled by humans now but that's not always goingng to be the case. soldiers are going to be different, and i'll talk a little bit about that. war is going to be fast. it's going to be may be subtle. we may, not even know it's happening. or it may happen in the blink of an eye. it's going to be global. so some of the technology. i have actually heard that the military being described as a giant armed nervous system. so everything is connected to everything else. things like information technology.
we are now at the point where we can put literally billions of transistors on a tiny chip. advanced data mining, artificial intelligence, if you seen the news, the dod just ask for another $18 billion to put into things like artificial intelligence and machine learning. weapons will have decision-making capability. we already have weapons that have decision-making capability. they are defensive in nature. the patriot system, the aegis system,, antimissile systems. but more and more offense of weapons will sort of sneak up on the decision-making capability. the department of defense says a human will always be in the loop, or on the loop or a lease watching the loop. but war will be so fast that humans will become irrelevant and women actually slide into a
case of decision being made by machines i'm not evenrr really know it. weapons will go to a target area, decided to kill and take action. they might seek permission first, and they might not. there's no communication. these things are good, don't get me wrong. drones and all of these technologies to make our soldiers better are good. they keep the soldiers out of harms way, but you need to, with a little bit of thinking. enhancementsts here i talk in te book about a soldier enhancement. this is, there is a yuck factor involved in this. exoskeletons to help soldiers things more. pharmaceuticals. right now we give airplane pilots drugs to keep them awake. there's talk about giving soldiers drugs to make them more courageous, less fearful, feel less pain.
we need to think about that. then there's this whole area of neuroscience. this one is really interesting. to talk to the defense advanced research project agency for some of the work they are doing. mostly for treatment of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, good stuff. they are able to restore function to soldiers, but you know what? they also learned that they can enhance normal soldiers. they can make soldiers learn faster. they can actually treat things. they come to the point where they can actually identify the structure of the brain and what some thoughts are. think about that. if you canct read a thought, you can write a thought. this is very scary stuff. then there is an increasing
concern about biological enhancement, or biology and synthetic biology. if anybody has read about crisper, they will probably win a nobel prize for crisper, virus editing. the worry is and the director of national intelligence said crisper is a defense threat, and intelligence threat. the worry is that bad people will create viruses that are amenable to treatment. so we worry about that. cyber war, talked about power grids, dams pictures actually, there was actually a case in which a man sitting in the back of an airplane was able to hack into the cockpit, and so hacking into airplanes and weapons is of huge concern. this is another area i think the duty will be spending about $12 billionrn next year on cybe. electromagnetic pulse weapons
picketing but read the book "one second after," an electromagnetic pulse pretty bad. bad. you can do it without a nuclear bomb. that technology is out there. it'd been developed. hypersonic weapons. weapons that go 15 -20 15-20 te speed of sound. them.ense against so technology is moving really, really fast. if you look at technology adoption curves, they are coming more frequently and things are getting into the public much, much faster. even a phd in engineering really can't keep up. so what do you expect of the normal american public? they basically look at all this technology and go okay, got it. problem is that u.s. is technologically pretty illiterate when it comes to the rest of the world. this is okay in civilian life. i get it.
if we don't understand how netflix gives us the recommendation for next movie, it doesn't matter. but it does matter in the military. when we're going to kill people it matters a lot that we understand what's in our weapons. we have to understand the consequences. i dedicate this book to a friend of mine, retired former navy was in vietnam, was expose multiple times to agent orange and died of agent orange. .. so we have to think before we employ these things what the consequences are. we knew what the long-term consequences were. with the against technology or what? technology obviously, health care, everything we have done, they're just wonderful things like anabiotic's.
the problem with anabiotic's is we got really used them and never havear a hard time trying to find ones that work because we overused them. the food industry, while, we have more food than we know what to do with but there are a lot of drugs and are food. ai is the technology that's eating the government. everybody's interested in ai. we need to understand, we don't actually know how it works, even the specialist don't really know. so, is. moved on, sewed to talk about technology, that was really fun. i was actually teaching a course at george mason university to a bunch of master students. one of whom was a chaplain, an army chaplain who just came back from iraq where 16 of the soldiers in his unit were killed and hundreds were
wounded. he talked to me about how difficult it was to treat the wounded souls of soldiers. believe it or not, they are people. when they go out and kill others, maybe even civilians, it bothers him a lot. he talked about how important it was for soldiers to understand what is correct and what is not correct in warfare. i taught about just war theory and armed conflict and he was very interested in that. in that chapter, i tried to take those technologies, the really cool technology we were talking about and ounce them up against the laws of war and armed conflictth and say are these things right? do they satisfy the distinction and discrimination of combatants and so on andct so forth. you might say that's just so
much talk but it's actually important. leadership is important, i talk about some of the things that yes, we the united states did in bombing civilian targets and massacres in vietnam and other places and i talk about some of the good leadership. for instance, robots. the example i used, there's a robot, there's this idea that humans andnd robots will fight together on the battlefield. i'm sitting in a foxhole with my robot and someone throws a grenade in. will the robot jump on the grenade? will i jump on the grenade to save the robot? the loyalty and camaraderie and all those things that come into questions when we talk about machines. enhancements, drugs,
neuroscience, is that soldier operating with free will? in a make a moral decision? we are trying to make machines act more like machine people and people act like machines. somewhere in the middle, it will be a mess. so he asked, besides you, who cares about that stuff? that sent me on a rant in chapter four and my answer was, unfortunately, almost nobody. a few like myself, but not many people. i go into this discussion in chapter four about how arrogant we are about our technologies. after the fall of the wall, we were everywhere.
i love the media, i don't talk about fake news, but i think the media gets it wrong. they focus on the wrong things and they don't focus on the important things. the internet is an awful place. it's good, but it's an awful place for people to do bad things. i think we are deliberately ignorant. we don't try to educate ourselves. there's a chasm, the public is just not involved. they have no knowledge of the military. people asked me, did you ever kill anyone? no, not everyone in the military is a killer. leaders actually use the military as a toy, their own
private, back to this education thing. it was very interesting. several of them said we should go ino there militarily and the same 60% if asked where ukraine was, they said they didn't know. they know nothing about the military. i like to useab the phrase the big c. most people don't realize the u.s. spends three quarters of a trillion dollars a year on the military. about $250 billion on new weapons.
they don't realize the impact of all the deployments that our soldiers and airmen and marines faith where the psychological scars of war. have no idea about how the military gets the missions andnd what the threats are. what they do know, or what they do, and don't get me wrong, i appreciate it, they think us for our service. we do have time shows, and believe me that is wonderful but it's just not enough. we allow our politicians to employ our military. congressional research service basically pointed out that in the 70 years since world war ii, we have deployed our military's 60 times. that's almost once a year. a recent article in "time" magazine pointed out that we have special operations forces
in 143 countries. now, maybe all those things e are legitimate, i question whether they are or whether we just like to use our military. i say we kind of disrespect our military. we disrespect our military. we have halftime shows and all these other things, but i think a sign of disrespect is ignoring somebody and we are ignoring it. that has to change. there has to be a national conversation. i had a novelist friend and silicon valley who actually wrote what i thought was a pretty good description of my book. she said we asked our fighting men and women to go into battle ever more frequently,
trusting the tools we him them are vetted ass the right ones, their orders are honorable and their actions arer sanctioned by the majority of the citizenry there's one to defend. we are talking about the human element of war and america is lacking in intellectual curiositys and capacity. not just education but in its citizens will to study, consider, debate and actively choose what the purpose and nature of future conflicts should be when we put machines between us and our enemy. and quoted me in the last part of the book. i like to end my discussion with what i think of as
patriotism. anyone here who is old enough to remember at least evenson said patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil andad steady dedication of a lifetime. i say that patriotism is going to do h it anymore. we actually have to sit down and think and have a debate because this technology is coming at us fast and it's going to present issues for the soldier, and that's the one that worries me, and for decision-makers. are decision-makers really don't have the capacity to understand a lot of the stuff. we actually have to u have a national debate about that. we ask a lot of our military and i hope this book, i hope it sells a bazillion copies.
i hope a lot of people will read this and enter into that debate because i think it's important. especially now. with that, there's a chapter on what i think some of the things are that we could do, it's not the greatest chapter but this is a tough, tough problem. thank you all for your interest in the book. i am really anxious to get to some your questions. [applause] if you have questions, please raise your hand. i will call on you and the ushers will bring the microphone forward. >> thank you. do you have any information
about what's going on at ourg embassy in cuba? >> have gotten that question several times. the short answer is, i have no information at all. i guess people were getting sick and they thought it might be some sonic, i think technically that's possible. low-frequency sonic waves can vibrate your internal organs so it's conceivable, but the short answer is no, i have no information on it. >> the leaders in the military and the government are technologically challenged and how are you going to make them be able to understand?
many of those familiar with technology are not the military. leadershipke the understand how they can usey, technology to the best example , to the best advantage for this country? the argument is always the military fights the last wars battles. how are we going to train decision-makers to fight the battle of thehe future? >> i don't actually think it's the military decision-makers who are the issue. the military doesn't, generally speaking they don't really want to go to war and by and large i think most the senior military leaders have a pretty good idea about the technology. it's the civilian leadership that's troublesome. the only way i know to make the civilian leadership listen is for the public to demand it. if the public demands it then they will listen because they want to get reelected.
it's a tough problem and trying to explain to particle scientists how crisper works is sort of a full errand. trying to explain to them what some of the implications of it areai may be something we could d do. again, the public have to demand it. that's the simplest answer i can give you. >> first of all, thank you for writing what sounds like a wonderful book and i look forward to reading it. aren't you really describing a failure of the people? the republicans accused the democrats of losing china when it fell to the communist in 1948. nixon spent four years in vietnam in a war he knew he
couldn't win. todayre we are in afghanistan. there is nobody in this country who can explain our exit strategy or what victory will amount to an afghanistan, yet our politicians are terrified to tell us the truth because they know be unsatisfactory. i guess one way of asking the question is, is this a lost cause? what more do you think we can do. leaders are terrified of their own people, and for good reason. >> if i said it was a lost cause maybe i should've said it's a difficult cause. part of the problem is that war has come frequently and has, no cost. we fought the vietnam war on a credit card. every conflict we've been in there have been no additional taxes. i'm not silly enough to think we could ever go back to a
draft but it hasn't affected the american people. after 911 which was an awful situation, the president declared a national emergency and then he told the american people to go on about their business. he didn't say go shopping, that's t us another story but he said go on about your business. i think that's wrong. the only people who are affected by 911, be on the families, obviously, where the military. they got sent over and over. i signed orders keeping people in the military well beyond where they should've stayed. many of them went multiple times, i have no doubt some of them may have been killed or wounded, but if it doesn't affect people, they're not going to care. i don't know if that answers your question but we have to figure out a way to make it affect the american people. then maybe we won't do it so
often. we'll do it when it really needs too be done. i hope. >> you talk about the ethics of war with all that's going on in exponential technology and how ethics differs globally. can they really be an ethics of war? >> that's a wonderful question. literally for millennia, especially for centuries, people have debated f this topi. most civilized countries do
follow some sort of law otherwise war would be nothing but butchery which it was back in the time of the greeks. i think the basis of your question is groups like isis and al qaeda, they don't care aboute ethics. that shouldn't be what's important to us. we talk a big game about human rights, we've gone to war over human rights. i think there truly is a place of for ethics in warfare. i don't know if that answer your question, but we should do what we think is correct,
not what other people do. >> you believe the term military is the most effective way to staff our military organization organizations. >> has a question i get a lot. obviously, i grew up in a time of the draft. i don't think we have any other option but an all volunteer military. i think it is the most effective way? no, i don't, but i don't have any other answers beyond perhaps having some sort of national service. the problem with the all
voluntee volunteer military is if you look at the data, increasingly is coming from a narrower and narrower slice of the american public. it doesn't represent the entire demographic. that's worrisome tomo me. again, it has nothing to do with all volunteer, but the fact that it's all volunteer, politicians have a tendency to use it, don't use the term mercenary, but use it more as a tool to impose their will on others and that's not quite right for me. the short answer to your question is no, i don't think it's the most effective way but short of a draft which will never happen again, i don't know how to fix it. >> this is pretty much purely
technical, but as an air force guy, do you envision air to air come combat i'm talking dark fighting beyond missiles with unarmed aircraft. >> possibly in the future. unmanned aircraft certainly don't have the limitations that manned aircraft do, with human systems to try to keep the pilot alive. i guess the question would be what's the point? the short answer is, possibly a as, because the technology for unmanned aircraft is getting so much better. actually had students ask me, why don't we just have war between machines. my answer to that was what would be the point? at some point humans are going
to die or land is going to be taken. just having machines kill one another doesn't seem to be useful. >> the gentleman in the center. >> following up on your question before, why did you say no to a draft. it seems that the best way to get the public busted into what the politicians are doing. if everybody son and daughter might be affected. >> don't mistake my answer for no, i grew up in the time of the draft and it was not without its problems. as we know, you can have a draft requirement for bone spurs. a lot of people got those. it fell heavily upon a smaller subset. but by and large, everybody served. i just don't think it's possible in our current political environment.
if 911 wasn't an opportunity, i'm not sure what will be. i do believe everyone should serve and i talk in the book about, okay, if not to serve in the military, police of the government. if you are a citizen ofve the united states, they wrote about the o social contract. you have a responsibility. honestly, i would like to see the draft but it's never gonna happen. one of the things admiral mullen, the t former german, he said what we should do is actually lower the active duty , the number of active duty soldiers to a verye low number and fill it up with reserves and then the next time we go to war, the reserves would have to be the ones to go. that would impact families and
families might actually say no. i didn't exactly say no to the draft, i'm just a realist. i don'tdi think will happen. >> this is really just a broad question on military budget, an additional 80 billion or whatever it was and three quarters of a trillion a year, if we can't win a with that or half that, can the military spend its budget wisely inefficiently or is it just this behemoth that keeps growing? >> i was with you until you said wisely inefficiently. they can certainly spend it.
i was in that business for years. i bought weapons, i think we could, honestly don't think we need three quarters of trillion dollars. oh. to be fair, much of that goes to operations and spare parts, pay, health, but over 200 billion goes into the weapons business. i honestly think we don't get one system out onto the field until we start thinkys about the next one, and it's generally the other guy who's creating something that we have to respond too. in my opinion it's too big and
maybe if we looked at it very closely, we would find it exactly where it needs to be. my issue is that the american people don't seem to care much about it. ask any typical person on the street what they think. you'll never get the right answer. i think that's sad because of their money. if a politician says we need it, they say okay, yes. we need to go to war, okay, yes. nobody ever tells us how sending troops to the ukraine, and we have troops in theps ukraine, by the way, how that's going to make us safer. i guess you could say were helping protect nato. [inaudible]
[laughter] >> have one question that will leave us on a somewhat positive note. military is the developing urological enhancements for soldiers, do you see that there may be a way to use some of that technology in our schools, to help her students today? >> there are two answers that question. first, those types of technologies that the military develops, very often, almost always get into the civilian world. there developed by g civilian companies and so yes, they will make it in the civilian world. whether or not they should be able to help studentsld becomes a very sticky ethical question. the idea of putting brain
enhancements in this sort of like having students take ritalin. whether or not we should be enhancing people, what about people who can't afford neurological implants? how does that affect society? so, i think you are probably onto something. those technology will make their way into civilian life, it's just how will they be controlled? i don't know. you wanted to end on a positive note. i'll tell you the positive note that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are the best in the world. they are great young people and they deserve everything we can give them. [applause] >> please join me in thanking
robert. as you exit this venue you will see wonderful volunteers with yellow buckets to accept your donations to the savannah book festival. it is because of your generosity that we are able to keep the festival free. please help us continue keeping it free. thank you. >> well done. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> next from the savannah book festival brian curtis recalls the only rose bowl to take place outside pasadena california. in 1942 after the attack at pearl harbor the game w