Relax

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Most of us have been trained to be more productive – I know that I have. So it’s easy to see how you can get on the productive treadmill and literally forget how to relax.

That’s why I was drawn to this article with the intriguing title: “Trying to be more productive? Schedule time to rest and take a break.” Schedule time to take a break? What?

Here is how it begins and what drew me in:

It’s probably never been easier to acknowledge that a lot of us work too much and too hard, and should take more time off. Indeed, the very idea of burnout seems to be having a cultural moment.

“If you think you’re burned out, you’re burned out,” Jill Lepore wrote recently in The New Yorker, summarizing the workplace zeitgeist, “and if you don’t think you’re burned out, you’re burned out.”

What’s the problem? In part, it may be a sociocultural residue of the industrial age, which emphasized a certain “visible busyness,” intertwined with Max Weber’s “Protestant Work Ethic” theory of divine toil, suggests John Fitch, the author with Max Frenzel of the 2020 book “Time Off.” They argue that the time has come for workaholics and productivity junkies (and the rest of us) to be as deliberate, thoughtful and creative about taking breaks as they are about their jobs. And that is about more than just using up vacation days, Mr. Fitch said in an interview: “We want to expand the connotation of time off.” Specifically, he and Mr. Frenzel recommend cultivating a “rest ethic.”

Want more? You can read the rest of the piece here

Mad Scientist Laboratory Blog Post 338: Algorithms of Armageddon with CAPT (Ret.) George Galdorisi

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[Editor’s Note:  Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to announce our latest episode of The Convergence podcast, featuring CAPT George Galdorisi (USN-Ret.) discussing leading edge technologies, man-machine teaming, and algorithms of armageddon — Enjoy!  (Please note that this podcast and several of the embedded links below are best accessed via a non-DoD network due to network priorities for teleworking)]


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CAPT George Galdorisi (USN-Ret.) is a career naval aviator whose thirty years of active duty service included four command tours and five years as a carrier strike group chief of staff. He is currently the Director of Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific in San Diego, California. He is also a contributing blogger for the Mad Scientist Laboratory, having written Creating a Convergence of Technologies to Defeat the Deadly Fast Inshore Attack Craft Threat Before 2050 and Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Meet Warfighter Needs. CAPT Galdorisi also presented Designing Unmanned Systems For the Multi-Domain Battle (please access this video via a non-DoD network) as a Mad Scientist Speaker Series presentation on 10 January 2018.

CAPT Galdorisi began his writing career in 1978 with an article in the U.S. Navy’s professional magazine, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.
Since then, he has written fifteen books published by mainstream publishers, including the New York Times bestseller, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor, the novelization of the Bandito Brothers/Relativity Media film, and The Kissing Sailor, which proved the identity of the two principals in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic V-J Day in Times Square photograph. His latest projects include a new series of thrillers published by Braveship books, as well as a recent collaboration with St. Martin’s Press rebooting the Tom Clancy Op-Center series. His three Braveship thrillers are: The Coronado ConspiracyFor Duty and Honor, and Fire and Ice, just released in 2021. The first three books of the rebooted Tom Clancy Op-Center series, Out of the AshesInto the Fire, and Scorched Earth are New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers.

In today’s podcast, CAPT Galdorisi discusses leading edge technologies, man-machine teaming, and algorithms of armageddon. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview:

  • All military services must identify the “low hanging fruit” where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be injected quickly and easily into the  operational force. For example, the U.S. Army lost Soldiers on fuel and water resupply convoys during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. AI can be incorporated into logistics platforms, replacing vulnerable human drivers in order to save lives.
  • We are still assessing who — human or machine — has the innate edge over the other; however, man-machine teaming is really what holds the advantage. We are slowly developing how to best pair manned and unmanned platforms to create a sum that is greater than its parts.
  • History is replete with battles where Leaders were forced to make command decisions with a limited or incomplete understanding of all available information.  AI intelligence systems and entities conducting machine speed collection, collation, and analysis of battlefield information will free Commanders to do what they do best — fight and make decisions, respectively. Commanders will be able to focus on the battle with coup d’œil, or the “stroke of an eye,” maintaining situational awareness without consuming precious time crunching data.  AI’s role is not to make decisions free from human input, but rather to assist decision makers by presenting logical alternatives.
  • We are techno-realists, not techno-optimists. Fiction is a great tool to help determine the future of warfare; however, it often includes idealized AI solutions. Where as in reality, this is not the case. We are not trying to change the world with AI, so much as go after the low hanging fruit to initiate change.
  • The Army is leading the way in autonomous convoys and wearable devices that can help lighten the load for the Soldier. The most important thing is to recognize the importance of AI and autonomy for the Services and DoD which is happening at Senior Leader levels. Each Service can do much better in sharing their best practices and ideas for AI solutions and innovations.
  • For his novels, Mr. Galdorisi begins by thinking about what worries him regarding the military and builds a scenario around that fear. His novel, Fire and Ice, depicts Soviet meddling into Eastern Europe and the possibility of Russia holding its energy supply hostage in order to exercise power over Europe. With its European presence, the Army must be aware of the potential for Europe to become the next host of a new cold war and posture itself to prevail.
  • New writers should get their feet wet by writing articles for professional journals before undertaking an entire novel.

Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of “The Convergence,” featuring our interview with Air Force Gaming leads Capt Zachary BaumannCapt Oliver Parsons, and MSgt Michael Sullivan discussing how gaming breaks down barriers like rank and geography, the digital talent residing in the gaming community, and how video games can cultivate the future senior leaders of the military. Check out our video teaser from this upcoming podcast!

How did you like this podcast?  Have you had a chance to rate or review it on AppleStitcherSpotify, or wherever you accessed it?  This feedback helps us to improve future episodes of The Convergence and allows us to reach a bigger and broader audience — Thank you!

Feeding the Artificial Intelligence App

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When people speak about cutting-edge technologies, the conversation typically goes to artificial intelligence and machine learning.
These are awesome technologies, but are of no use without the data that feeds them. And for the U.S. military, there is no cheap “digital exhaust” as there is in the commercial world, the data must be gathered, and sensors must do the heavy lifting.
In our article here, winner of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association 2021 Cyber Edge Writing Contest, we suggest ways that the U.S. DoD can reorient its thinking to be a needed emphasis on sensors and data.
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George Galdorisi Announces Release of “Fire And Ice”

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Originally From: The Greater Los Angles Writer’s Society 

Fire and Ice is a thriller focused on the political-military tensions created by a modern-day Russia at its vindictive worst. Vladimir Putin emerges as the central character who uses the fulcrum of Belarus to threaten western Europe through a series of lethal and effective attacks on US and European energy sources. Fire and Ice poses the plausible and highly realistic question: Can Putin and his rogue nation be thwarted through the combined efforts of EU and US and political and military might?

Rick Holden and Laura Peters, reunited after several years of being assigned to commands half a world apart, find themselves thrown together by their parent agencies—the CIA and the DoD’s European Command, respectively. Their mission to rescue a captured American is successful, but then they must turn on a dime and race against time to thwart the transfer of weapons of mass destruction to vengeful terrorists.

Fire and Ice is a new entry in the increasingly popular genre commonly known as “FICINT”—imaging future warfare scenarios based on the realities of high-end combat and real-world intelligence, not fantasy. It leaves the reader wondering not if, but when, such a cataclysmic scenario might play out in our lifetimes. Drawing on the cutting-edge military technology he discusses in his recent non-fiction work: AI at War: How Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Are Changing Naval Warfare, George Galdorisi injects a new level of future warfare reality into Fire and Ice.

George Galdorisi is a career naval aviator and writer, specializing in “FICINT,” combining fiction writing with current intelligence to envision future warfare. He began this journey almost a decade ago with the New York Times best seller, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor (Penguin), the novelization of the Relativity Media number-one rated movie. This was followed in rapid succession by three more New York Times best sellers in the rebooted Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series: Out of the AshesInto the Fire, and Scorched Earth (St. Martins). Continuing in the FICINT tradition, his three most recent thrillers are The Coronado ConspiracyFor Duty and Honor and the just-released (March 2021) Fire and Ice (Braveship Books).

His FININT work—imaging future warfare scenarios based on the realities of high-end combat and real-world intelligence, not fantasy—is supported by his thirty years as a naval aviator, including four command tours and five years as a carrier strike group chief of staff, culminating in two combat tours in the Arabian Gulf.  During this final tour he also led the U.S. delegation for military-to-military talks with China’s People’s Liberation Army, Navy. Adding to his ability to harness all-source, open-source, intelligence to support these FICINT efforts, he is currently the Director of Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures at the Navy Information Warfare Center Pacific in San Diego, California.

Other than writing thrillers, George likes nothing more than connecting with readers. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and learn more about his books, blogs and other writing on his website: http://georgegaldorisi.com/—especially his “Writing Tips,”—which offer useful advice for all writers from established authors to future best-selling writers.

Who’s Driving?

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Full disclosure: I love to drive. When people started talking about self-driving cars, the first thing I asked myself was: What question is this the answer to?

But people who thought they were the greatest idea ever were undaunted. Predictions about self-driving cars being on the roads in huge numbers by this year were everywhere.

Now we have hit the brakes. I read an article recently, “The Costly Pursuit of Self-Driving Cars Continues On. And On. And On.” It’s subtitle is revealing: “Many in Silicon Valley promised that self-driving cars would be a common sight by 2021. Now the industry is resetting expectations and settling in for years of more work.” Here is how it begins:

It was seven years ago when Waymo discovered that spring blossoms made its self-driving cars get twitchy on the brakes. So did soap bubbles. And road flares.

New tests, in years of tests, revealed more and more distractions for the driverless cars. Their road skills improved, but matching the competence of human drivers was elusive. The cluttered roads of America, it turned out, were a daunting place for a robot.

The wizards of Silicon Valley said people would be commuting to work in self-driving cars by now. Instead, there have been court fights, injuries and deaths, and tens of billions of dollars spent on a frustratingly fickle technology that some researchers say is still years from becoming the industry’s next big thing.

Now the pursuit of autonomous cars is undergoing a reset. Companies like Uber and Lyft, worried about blowing through their cash in pursuit of autonomous technology, have tapped out. Only the deepest-pocketed outfits like Waymo, which is a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet; auto giants; and a handful of start-ups are managing to stay in the game.

Want more? You can read the rest of the piece here

Admiral’s Almanac Podcast: Interview with George Galdorisi

In this episode I have the honor of sitting down with one of my mentors, Navy Captain George Galdorisi. George is a Leader, Mentor, Strategic Thinker, National Security expert, and author of 15 books. George discusses his latest Rick Holden thriller, Fire and Ice. It is fiction that experts claim helps to strategize the challenges Russia presents in the real world today.

China at Sea

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In the late 1990s I had the honor of leading the United States delegation for military-to-military talks with the People’s Liberation Army, Navy (the PLAN).

Our group visited Chinese naval bases and back then, China’s navy was not much of a force. That has changed dramatically in the ensuing two decades.

That’s why I found a recent article, “China’s navy has more ships than the US. Does that matter?” so interesting. Here is how it begins:

Exactly if and when the increasing antagonism between United States and China will boil over into full-on conflict remains anybody’s guess.

But for now, one thing is as clear as the aqua-blue waters that lap up on the shores of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea: Beijing’s naval fleet is larger than that of the U.S. Navy.
Citing the Office of Naval Intelligence, a Congressional Research Service report from March notes that the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, was slated to have 360 battle force ships by the end of 2020, dwarfing the U.S. fleet of 297 ships.

Such numbers are hard to pinpoint because the PLAN doesn’t release public reports on its future shipbuilding efforts like the U.S. Navy does. But according to the CRS, China is on pace to have 425 battle force ships by 2030. Sheer size and numbers carry a quality all their own, and a numerical advantage would be of benefit in a small battlespace like the Taiwan Strait, some China watchers say.

Still, others note that because the U.S. Navy has been doing this a lot longer than the growing Chinese force and is aided by the naval might of America’s allies in the region, the U.S. retains key advantages that extend beyond any mere hull tally.

Want more? You can read the rest of the piece here

Think Different

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While bookstore (or Amazon warehouse) shelves groan under the weight of books about Silicon Valley, they continue to feed our fascination with the tech industry.

That is why I was drawn to the review of a new book: WHAT TECH CALLS THINKING
An Inquiry Into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley. Here is how it begins:

In 2007, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen argued in a brassy blog post that markets — not personnel, product or pricing — were the only thing a start-up needed to take flight. Teams, he suggested, were a dime a dozen. Products could be barely functional. He even suggested that the laws of supply and demand, the ones that generate price competition, no longer obtained.

The takeaway was something like If they come, you will build it. To get them to come, a founder needs a magnetic concept. Community, say. Connection. Sharing. Markets coalesced around these hazy notions in 2007 and 2008, with the debuts of Twitter, Airbnb, Waze, Tumblr and Dropbox.

In an erudite new book, “What Tech Calls Thinking,” Adrian Daub, a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford, investigates the concepts in which Silicon Valley is still staked. He argues that the economic upheavals that start there are “made plausible and made to seem inevitable” by these tightly codified marketing strategies he calls “ideals.”

There are so many scintillating aperçus in Daub’s book that I gave up underlining. But I couldn’t let “Disruption is a theodicy of hypercapitalism” pass. Not only does Daub’s point ring true — ennobling destruction and sabotage makes the most brutal forms of capitalism seem like God’s will — but the words themselves sound like one of the verses of a German punk-socialist anthem.

Want more? Here is a link to the NYT article

The End

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The Covid-19 has caused many people to confront death through the loss of friends and loved ones. But even if you are not touched by personal loss, you are likely thinking about your own limited time on this earth more than you were, say, 18 months ago.

The Stoics have a term for this – memento mori. I also wondered about this term and wanted to know more. That’s why I eagerly read a recent article “Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die.” The subtitle is profound: “Suffering and death are facts of life: “Everyone dies, their bodies rot, and every face becomes a skull.” Here is how the article begins:

Before she entered the Daughters of St. Paul convent in 2010, Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble read a biography of the order’s founder, an Italian priest who was born in the 1880s. He kept a ceramic skull on his desk, as a reminder of the inevitability of death. Sister Aletheia, a punk fan as a teenager, thought the morbid curio was “super punk rock,” she recalled recently. She thought vaguely about acquiring a skull for herself someday.

These days, Sister Aletheia has no shortage of skulls. People send her skull mugs and skull rosaries in the mail, and share photos of their skull tattoos. A ceramic skull from a Halloween store sits on her desk. Her Twitter name includes a skull and crossbones emoji.

That is because since 2017, she has made it her mission to revive the practice of memento mori, a Latin phrase meaning “Remember your death.” The concept is to intentionally think about your own death every day, as a means of appreciating the present and focusing on the future. It can seem radical in an era in which death — until very recently — has become easy to ignore.

Want more? You can read the rest of the piece here

The Damocles Agenda Official Trailer

Many writers write novels about warfare. Some of them write about the future of warfare. Sadly, most base what they write about on fantastical, made up scenarios that bear no connection with reality. Jeff Edwards is not one of them, His latest thriller follows a long line of riveting, and convincing military thrillers and are informed by his decades of service as U.S. Navy professional. The Damocles Agends is a book you won’t want to miss.