Human Information Appliance Schema: A Thought Experiment for Tactical, Strategic, and Ethical Contemplation

Title: "Human Information Appliance Schema: A Thought Experiment for Tactical, Strategic, and Ethical Contemplation"

Presenter: R.E. Burnett

Abstract: Jeff Raskin coined the term Information Appliance at Apple Computer in 1978. Martin Libicki advanced the concept of the Battlespace from his 1996 Telemetry of War essay in which our modern notion of netcentric warfare was advanced.  Using these concepts, we incorporate the modern information technology phenomena of everyware and persistent computing toward evolution in new forms of human enhancement. Given that most if not all humans will eventually equate to information devices in persistent computing architectures - we refer to them in this research as Human Information Appliance (HIA). This project is first and foremost a futures oriented product for the purpose of thinking about – in advance - risk and resilience analysis and management for a time that is beginning to feel familiar – if yet to come. We apply the HIA concept in a futures scenario where the arrival of exponential computational speed may produce effects to create novel solutions for human-machine environments/spaces.  This form of human enhancement may also pose significant risk that requires a public ethical analysis toward prescriptive policy work in the present. We seek to focus on one specific activity that is common to national security – homeland security and diplomacy – intelligence – for the purpose of investigating a future scenario where an advanced form of human-machine symbiosis provides extraordinary capability and yet extraordinary risk.  The thought experiment helps us to understand the evolution of this kind of critical infrastructure (intelligence-based information networks). Our purpose here is to think about how to integrate these components as important to the creation of a more resilient and robust system and outcomes in national security information products.  By definition – we are seeking to provide a better understanding of future states of technology and human interface for the purpose of attenuating risk. Our goal is to better understand how to assure resilience in a system where what is human and what is machine is more complicated.  Such a future technological reality faces disruption from interdiction threats to those complex IT infrastructures and potential disruption of another kind to present social ethical norms in our open society. In order to achieve resilience in these national security spaces – we must anticipate threats in advance – now – and to perform analysis in multiple dimensions of scientific – technological – policy – and human ethical areas of this futures scenario in anticipation of the evolution of this kind of human-technology interface. We begin with Libicki (1996) from Orbis and his “Telemetry of War” essay. Next – we incorporate Jeff Raskin’s (Apple Computer 1978) idea of the information appliance applied to modern information technologies and human intelligence operations and attempt to construct a futures scenario of cyborg-based intelligence operations.  We seek to explore human-hardware-software symbiosis solutions to advanced situational awareness and national power for the purpose of better understanding the complexity of these future national security IT critical infrastructures. Last, we compare this information systems example against an information system that is based upon a genetic technology for the purpose of examining similarities and differences in science and engineering and importantly in politics and policy.

Biography: R.E. Burnett is Associate Dean of Academics – Faculty and Professor of International Security Studies at National Defense University. He is an analyst and theoretician in the field of emerging technologies who has recently been a featured speaker and researcher to the National Intelligence Council’s science and technology committee. In 2015, Dr. Burnett was invited by the Australian Department of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO) to give the Keynote Lecture on Humans and Autonomous Systems to the Emerging Disruptive Technologies Assessment Symposium at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He also was the Plenary Speaker at a conference at the University of Melbourne. His recent publications include a chapter on UAVs and ubiquitous networks in Command and Control: Tools, Systems, and New Dimensions, Lexington/Rowan Books, 2015 and his work on the evolution of human-machine symbiosis for advanced situational awareness in intelligence and combat spaces was featured in the IEEE Technology & Society Magazine and Homeland Security Review in 2013. Dr. Burnett has conducted research and analysis for the National Intelligence Council, the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Joint Military Intelligence College, and the Homeland Security and National Defense Education Consortium. He has also been an active defense community expert in the UAV policy community through the IEEE society in the United States and Australia. Dr. Burnett has previously been professor at Virginia Military Institute (2005-2013), where he was also Director of the Science and National Security Program in Washington, DC. He was also Director of the VMI-National Defense University of Hungary International Exchange Seminar in Budapest, in which he has taught for the last seven summers. In 2003, at VMI, he held the Moody-Northen Endowed Chair in Economics and was also the 2007 & 2009 winner of the Hinman Award for Excellence in Research. From 2000 to 2005, Dr. Burnett was Associate Professor of Integrated Science & Technology at James Madison University, where he was awarded the Most Captivating Lecturer Award in 2005. From 1993 to 2000 he was Assistant Director and Assistant Professor of the Patterson School of Diplomacy & International Commerce.

Affiliation: Dr. R.E. Burnett is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of International Security Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Email: robert.burnett.civ@gc.ndu.edu