Former journalist who embedded with DARPA delivers 'Radical Evolution' seminar

By Mike Bassett, ASC Public AffairsJuly 20, 2016

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1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – To demonstrate technology's impact on military evolution, Professor Joel Garreau, author of "Radical Evolution," demonstrates a laser being used to target a tank during a call-for-fire mission, and how contemporary battlefield technology would be vie... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - Former Washington Post reporter, Joel Garreau, Lincoln professor of Law, Culture, and Values at Arizona State University spoke at Heritage Hall on his book "Radical Evolution," here, July 14.

Garreau, whose seminar provoked thoughts on the future of Army sustainment, logistics and warfighter readiness, was invited to speak as part of ASC Commanding General Maj. Gen. Kevin O' Connell's Leadership Professional Development seminar series.

Garrea's main argument is that for the first time in human history, we now have the technological ability to take control of our evolution.

"Our technologies are not so much aimed outward at modifying our environment in the fashion of fire, clothes, cities, agriculture, space travel, and so on," he said. "Instead, our technologies are increasingly aimed inward at modifying our minds, our memories, our metabolisms our personalities and our kids."

Garreau, who was embedded with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency while working on his book, said, "For the first time in our history we have the ability to take control of our evolution."

He called this period in human advancement "one of the biggest inflection points in the past 10,000 years.

The first wave of Special Forces rode into Afghanistan on horseback because the country's infrastructure was so underdeveloped, he said. In an initial encounter with a Northern Alliance tribe, Garreau said a Soldier used a laser-guided missile to destroy an abandoned Russian tank that had been blocking a vital roadway for decades.

After the engagement, which he referred to as the 'last great Cavalry charge of the 21st Century,' "the tribes viewed the American's advanced technological capability as if the Flintstones had met the Jetsons."

"What I want to know is how those tribal leaders explained the experience to their wives," he said. Garreau speculated they viewed the American Soldiers as "Amazing sorcerers, Gods."

Garreau said this example presages what is yet to become a global phenomenon as humans strive to adjust to exponential advances in GRIN (genetics, robotics, information, and nanotechnologies), and how they will shape radical transformation in human evolution.

Garreau cited the "telekinetic monkey" - a monkey with a computer chip embedded in its brain - who during research and testing in 2003 was able to move objects long distance with its thoughts. "Imagine an F35 being able to fly by being wired into the pilot's mind, or imagine someone with cerebral palsy being able to walk because of mind-machine interfaces," he said.

Citing the constantly increasing capacity and miniaturization of information technology products (Moore's Law), Garreau stated, "This one microchip I hold in my hand has more firepower in it than the entire Air Defense Command did in 1965."

In final examples, Garreau described how nanotechnologies will be able to "edit any gene" as preventive and reparative medicine for diseases before they even occur - allowing humans to live longer, stronger, healthier lives.

The genetic technology - referred to as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) - "can reduce Soldiers' need for sleep and more efficiently and artificially conserve and distribute energy for longer periods of time," said Garreau.

"These changes of 'what it means to be human' are coming at you right now, on our watch," he said.

In terms of warfighter readiness and global logistics, these exponential technological leaps will first be rolled out by the military, Garreau speculated.

As applied to the Rock Island Arsenal mission, Garreau said, "Logistics, as you know, is no longer about beans, bullets, and Band-Aids. Increasingly you are being tasked with proving super power."