Penning the Future

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Local author’s works imagine and prepare for the wars of tomorrow
By Samantha Bey

As red, white and blue buntings are hoisted on homes around town and Fourth of July festivities abound, July is an opportune time to reflect on all that this country has bestowed upon us and all that we hope to protect. One Coronado resident who counts the blessings of America – and then writes about how to shield them from potential threats, both real and imagined – is local author, Captain George Galdorisi. The Navy moved George, his wife Becky, and their two children, Brian and Laura, to Coronado in 1983 for what they expected would be another two-year assignment before they’d pack up and leave for their next duty station. Thirty-eight years later, now with grandchildren growing up here, it turns out their sojourn to Coronado was a (happily) permanent one.

Galdorisi ended up completing several tours at NAS North Island, Becky taught in the Coronado School District for over two decades, and Brian and Laura both graduated from Coronado High School. During his tenure in the Navy and despite having had a busy, seagoing career, Galdorisi managed to write more than a dozen books published by mainstream publishers. He has also written over 400 articles for professional publications and hundreds of conference papers for military, industry, academic and technical conferences. And now, as the Director of Strategic Assessments and Technical Futures at Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, he has also managed to write two new books, one fiction and one non-fiction, that look to the future of warfare.

“Most publishers and editors give the same advice,” he says, “which is to ‘write what you know.’ When I write fiction, I draw from my operational experience as a naval aviator, as well as from my technical experience working with unmanned systems, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. This experience informs my novels.” Galdorisi began his writing career in 1978 with an article in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings. He went on to write the New York Times bestseller Act of Valor, a novelization of the Bandito Brothers, as well as The Kissing Sailor, which proved the identity of the two people in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square. His reboot of the Tom Clancy Op-Center series includes three consecutive New York Times bestsellers: Out of the Ashes, Into the Fire and Scorched Earth. His latest fiction project, published by Braveship Books and is a series of thrillers about fictional character Rick Holden: The Coronado Conspiracy, For Duty and Honor, and the recently released Fire and Ice. “Fire and Ice is a thriller focused on the political-military tensions created by a modern-day Russia at its vindictive worst,” Galdorisi explains. “Vladimir Putin emerges as a central character who uses the fulcrum of Belarus to hold Western Europe hostage by strangling their oil and gas supplies.” Galdorisi says that the novel poses the plausible and highly realistic question: Can Putin and his rogue nation be thwarted through the combined efforts of EU and US political and military might? Perhaps most striking about Fire and Ice is that fictional events portrayed in the book appear to have come true in 2021. The events described in the novel include a ship completely blocking the Suez Canal, a cyber-attack on America’s oil and gas infrastructure, and Russia bullying and eventually invading a neighboring nation. Does Galdorisi have a crystal ball? Or is he just a very lucky guesser? “One of my childhood heroes, Yogi Berra, said ‘It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.’

When I write fiction, I write about things that worry me about future warfare, and then I try to intuit what wars will be like in years hence,” explains Galdorisi. It seems that so far both his worries and his intuition are pretty spot on. He notes that all three of his most recent novels, The Coronado Conspiracy (which, aptly named, has a firm anchor in this city) For Duty and Honor and Fire and Ice, are contributions to an increasingly popular genre commonly known as FICINT, which is short for fictional intelligence. “This means imagining future warfare scenarios based on the reality of high-end combat and real-world intelligence, not fantasy,” says Galdorisi. “My goal,” he says, “is to leave the reader wondering not if, but when, these kinds of scenarios will play out in our lifetimes.” Galdorisi’s primary writing passion is novels, but he also feels a sense of duty to share his knowledge in the nonfiction arena. Earlier this year he released a nonfiction project, AI at War: How Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are Changing Naval Warfare. “Along with my co-author, Dr. Sam Tangredi, another former naval officer and Coronado resident, I wrote this book because we believe that it is important for Americans to understand how inserting big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning into military weapon systems will change warfare as we know it,” he explains.

Galdorisi says writing nonfiction in addition to fiction “definitely helps” when it comes to the believability of his novels. “Starting with Act of Valor, continuing through the Tom Clancy Op-Center books, and now the more recent Rick Holden thriller series, these novels wouldn’t be believable if the technical details—especially technologies that will impact future warfare—were not dead-on right.”

When it comes to the new FICINT genre, Galdorisi explains some readers may feel troubled that people outside of the Pentagon were writing about the future of warfare. He, however, feels differently. “Many commentators accuse the U.S. military of preparing for the last war. There may be some truth to this criticism. However, there is a movement afoot to better prepare for the wars of tomorrow. Throughout the 20th century, planning for tomorrow’s conflicts occurred exclusively within the walls of the Pentagon. With a well-known adversary during the Cold War this was an acceptable strategy. However today, with a plethora of new threats, this is no longer the case.”

Galdorisi explains that for years, writers imagined future warfare, but U.S. officials responsible for the security and prosperity of America either disregarded these stories or criticized them as unhelpful to crafting a coherent national and military strategy. He says this has changed in the 21st century. “The U.S. national security community has now embraced this new FICINT genre as a useful instrument to intuit how tomorrow’s wars will be fought.”

Even with all the potentially looming warfare to write about in real life, Galdorisi’s future writing projects will focus on his fi ction. “I need to get Rick Holden and his friends in trouble again, so I am working on my next novel, as well as on another book on the impact of artificial intelligence on future warfare. That should keep me off the streets and out of the saloons for a while,” he says with a laugh. Other than writing books that envision what future warfare will be like, 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, georgegaldorisi.com especially his “Writing Tips,” — which offers useful advice for all scribes, from established authors to future best-selling writers.

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)]


[If the podcast dashboard is not rendering correctly for you, please click here to listen to the podcast]

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!

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.

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

Growing

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Covid-19 has impacted all of us, whether we have lost anyone close to us or not. I don’t know anyone personally who has not used this time to reflect.

That is why I was drawn to Charles Blow’s opinion piece. He seemed to sum up nicely what I – and I suspect many of us – am thinking as we power through this pandemic. Here is part of what he shared:

This seemingly sudden intrusion of death into your life changes you. At least it is changing me. It reminds me that life is terribly fragile and short, that we are all just passing through this plane, ever so briefly. And that has impressed upon me how important it is to live boldly, bravely and openly, to embrace every part of me and celebrate it, to say and write the important things: the truth and my truth.

I realize that, according to the odds, my life is nearly two-thirds over, that I have more summers behind me than in front of me. This doesn’t mean that I’ve grown fatalistic or even that I feel particularly old. It is just a realization that the math says what the math says. And as such, I have begun to make certain adjustments, to change my perspective on my life.

I have started to manage my regrets and to reduce them, to forgive myself for foolish mistakes and reckless choices, to remember that we are all just human beings stumbling through this life, trying to figure it out, falling down and getting back up along the way. I have learned to cut myself some slack and get on with being a better person.

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

Taps

Tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day

If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which taps was played; this brings out a new meaning of it.

Here is something every American should know. We in the United States have all heard the haunting song, “Taps” It’s the song that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.

But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Elli was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Elli heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.
When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted.
The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.

The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.
But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician.
The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform.

This wish was granted.

The haunting melody, we now know as “Taps” used at military funerals was born.

The words are:

Day is done.

Gone the sun.

From the lakes

From the hills.

From the sky.

All is well.

Safely rest.

God is nigh.

I too have felt the chills while listening to “Taps” but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn’t know if you had either so I thought I’d pass it along.

I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.

Happiness

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Most people want to be happy. It is in our DNA. However, with a global pandemic and all that comes with it, sometimes we can use a nudge regarding what things can contribute to our happiness.

That’s why I was drawn to an article in the New York Times entitled, “Over 3 Million People Took This Course on Happiness. Here’s What Some Learned.” Here is how it began:

“It may seem simple, but it bears repeating: sleep, gratitude and helping other people.”

“Everyone knows what they need to do to protect their physical health: wash your hands, and social distance, and wear a mask,” she added. “People were struggling with what to do to protect their mental health.”

“The Coursera curriculum, adapted from the one Dr. Santos taught at Yale, asks students to, among other things, track their sleep patterns, keep a gratitude journal, perform random acts of kindness, and take note of whether, over time, these behaviors correlate with a positive change in their general mood”.

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

Economy Booming?

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Do you feel confused about the economy and whether we are in a boom or bust? It is likely that you do, as there is vastly more heat than light regarding where the economy is going. Depending on what news media you pick and when you engage, you might see unbridled optimism or impending doom.

That’s why I was drawn to an article entitled: “17 Reasons to Let the Economic Optimism Begin.” While I wasn’t looking for a warm fuzzy or a security blanket, this piece did tease out the reasons that the trend lines (trends – not guarantees) are heading in the right direction. Don’t plan that Paris vacation yet, but lean into living life again. Here is how it begins:

But strange as it may seem in this time of pandemic, I’m starting to get optimistic. It’s an odd feeling, because so many people are suffering — and because for so much of my career, a gloomy outlook has been the correct one.

Predictions are a hard business, of course, and much could go wrong that makes the decades ahead as bad as, or worse than, the recent past. But this optimism is not just about the details of the new pandemic relief legislation or the politics of the moment. Rather, it stems from a diagnosis of three problematic mega-trends, all related.

There is not one reason, however, to think that these negative trends have run their course. There are 17.

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

Meet me at The BookFest: Spring 2021 – April 17 & 18

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The BookFest is free to attend. Just go to the website and check out the live stream to watch panels and conversations. Sat. April 17th is dedicated to readers, and Sun. April 18th is dedicated to writers.

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords; prolific New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry; Patrick M. Oliver founder of Say it Loud!; and skeptic, author and thinker, Michael Shermer, are doing conversations during the two-day online event. These intimate one-on-one talks give attendees the opportunity to learn more about each individual, and to take a deep dive into the topics discussed.

Delivering the opening keynote for The BookFest Spring 2021 is author of the #1 Amazon bestseller The Art of Hybrid Timber Framing, Bert Sarkkinen. As the founder of Arrow Timber, Sarkkinen takes attendees on a journey to find long-term happiness.

Plus, panel discussions include an array of writers, literary professionals, and experts discussing the books we read, relevant topics of our times, the art and craft of writing, and more.

Check out the Live Author Chats and the BookFest Spring Picnic Giveaway on Sat, April 17th.

On Sun, April 18th writers will get a chance to network and ask their burning questions during the Ask the Industry Experts Anything: Live Q&A for Writers of Every Level.

To stay informed on everything BookFest-related, and to get a free Virtual Gift Bag emailed to you after The BookFest Adventure, sign up for email alerts: https://www.thebookfest.com/signup/

www.TheBookFest.com

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