On September 30, 2013 in Santa Clara at Santa Clara University, the Commonwealth Club hosted George Lucas, Professor of Ethics and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School’s presentation “Robot Morality: Can a Machine Have a Conscience?” After David De Cosse of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics introduced him, Lucas examined the possibilities of programming robots with their own conscience to make moral decisions when confronted with rapidly changing and morally fraught situations. He talked about manned submarine crews managing groups on sub drones conducting intelligence gathering operations in the South China sea. Lucas addressed this issue, especially as it pertains to the military’s increasing reliance on such devices.
On Tuesday, August 13, 2013 in Santa Clara at Silicon Valley Bank, the Commonwealth Club hosted Naomi Tickle, founder of Face Language International and author of “What Makes People Tick and Why .” Tickle identified key characteristics to better communicate, develop relationships and create successful teams in your business and at home. Is it another way to profile people?
On Friday, July 27, 2012 in San Francisco at Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel, the Commonwealth Club and the Marines Memorial Association hosted General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He spoke on “Current International Security Challenges and the Future of the U.S.” with George Scalise, President of Semiconductor Industry Association. Dempsey was wrapping up a tour in Silicon Valley after meeting the staff of Facebook and other high tech companies. He thinks they should be thinking about the future at least as much as the military does.
Earlier this week, Dempsey oversaw the changeover in command at the Defense Intelligence Agency from Burgess to Flynn. It is part of a larger process of better cooperation between the military and civilians to speed up the gathering and acting upon timely intelligence using emerging technology.
He also spoke about the military shift from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region. While some see this as a way to contain China’s growing influence, he thinks it would be unusual if the United States did not have any presence in the region. The challenge will be to do this with smaller budgets and fewer personnel. America has over 300 million people but fewer than three million active and reserve duty personnel. The all volunteer military is more diverse and far different than the days of the draft. Professional soldiers have more training to operate complex equipment in chaotic situations. Even if there were a draft, only one in four young people can meet the all the physical and academic requirements to serve. A military is only as strong as the citizens it defends.
At a press conference afterwards, Mark Matthews of ABC KGO-TV asked about the recent trouble at Lackland Air Force Base. I recommend checking Matthews report on this. Jeff King of CNN was there as well. At a later funny moment, Dempsey wryly commented on my camera as being very “stealthy.” If it really were, he would not have noticed it. I hope he enjoys the pictures.
On Monday, June 18th, 2012 in San Francisco at The Commonwealth Club, United States Chief Technology Officer Todd Park presented “Unleashing the Power of Open Data and Innovation for Healthcare.” Also there were Michael S. Blum, MD of UCSF Medical Center and Mark Smith of the California Health Care Foundation. Park talked about the federal governments history of making information available to the public and how it has created jobs. Weather and GPS data from government satellites generated economic growth and Park is optimistic that the public health data will too. Veterans, the disabled and the elderly are leading the way in getting control over their personal medical information. Unconferences, hackathons and open systems are bringing doctors, nurses, and administrators together with computer hackers to solve issues in record time at dramatically lower costs.