Disruptive by Design

February 1, 2018
By Ryan René Rosado

With modern society’s infatuation with selfies, facial recognition technology could easily be used to identify common physical traits of criminals, pinpoint communities dominated by potential offenders and then help determine where to focus crime-prevention programs.

January 1, 2018
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

As businesses, governments and militaries wrestle with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, managing machines that learn is a challenge common to all.

AI will not merely displace blue-collar tasks; it will affect every management level. Managers will outsource many mundane, time-consuming, attention-taxing and less rewarding tasks. The bigger challenge, however, is integrating AI systems into their teams and determining how teams will collaborate with AI systems to increase insights, improve decision making and enhance leadership.

December 1, 2017
By Jennifer A. Miller

The U.S. Defense Department is implementing one of the world’s largest enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and the process could be going better. This is the case for many organizations that decide to adopt the software. After all, ERP software can cause network failures, resulting in significant lost opportunities and resources.

ERP software allows the integration of business management applications and automation of office functions. As a taxpayer and a steward of tax dollars, I have questioned the department’s choices of ERP software and implementation techniques. I have also studied a rarity—an ERP implementation success in a government organization.

November 1, 2017
By Jennifer Miller

In a few short decades, the world will be vastly different. The military environment is no exception, given that a force built for and in the industrial age will continue providing national security in an increasingly unstable and uncertain world. The dramatic and potentially unforeseen advances in technology will be countless. Leaders will need help figuring out how to conceptualize and capitalize.

This includes the Air Force. The force of 2050 will no longer be confined to space, sky and cyberspace. Training, tools and tactics will change.

October 1, 2017
By Ryan Larson

Agroterrorism, a subset of bioterrorism, is defined in a Congressional Research Service report as “the deliberate introduction of an animal or plant disease with the goal of generating fear, causing economic losses or undermining social stability.” The word is rarely used, and fortunately, an event is even more rare. Rarer still are common understanding and readiness among U.S. agencies facing this threat. However, recent legislation and a survey of the nation’s emergency management capabilities underscore the need to prepare even for low-probability but high-impact acts of agroterrorism.

September 1, 2017
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

A new era of computing, sensing, modeling and communicating will begin with the advent of viable quantum technologies. Viable quantum technologies will change everything about computers. Harnessing the characteristics of quantum mechanics is bound to unlock mathematical mysteries and enable profound applications.

Today’s military leaders must prepare now for the quantum future.

August 1, 2017
By Orlando Padilla

No one likes a snitch. Yet whistleblowers or leakers have been sharing sensitive national secrets and agitating government waters since the country’s founding, usually to the ire of those in power. Today, spilling secrets seems more pervasive than ever. Recent leaks radiating from the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, the U.S. Defense Department and the White House leave little doubt that investigators are poring over every detail.

Understanding why leakers leak is just as important as grasping how they do it. Determining the motives behind someone’s deliberate action to share government secrets requires concerted due diligence after the incident.

July 1, 2017
By Farisa Dastvar

President Donald Trump recently signed a succinct but sweeping cybersecurity executive order fortifying the U.S. government’s role in thwarting cyber attacks, establishing a path toward protecting federal networks and critical infrastructure, and bolstering cybersecurity for the nation as a whole. 

“Our nation’s economic and national security rely on a safe, secure and reliable cyberspace,” said U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly of the order, titled Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.

June 1, 2017
By Jennifer A. Miller
U.S. Airmen with the 1st Combat Communications Squadron review their systems against technical guides during a cybersecurity audit in March at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore, USAF

Warfare, as with technology, is changing quickly and dramatically. The U.S. Defense Department’s most recent Quadrennial Defense Review noted the link between this rapid evolution and “increasingly contested battlespace in the air, sea and space domains—as well as cyberspace—in which our forces enjoyed dominance in our most recent conflicts.” 

These assertions have major implications for airpower in future contingencies that will call for the Air Force to emphasize cyber over its five core missions. Already, these missions have been tweaked in content and application—changes that leaders could use to set a course for future cyber dominance. 

May 1, 2017
By Sarah Christensen

Entitled. Self-centered. Disaffected. These are just a few of the divisive and disparaging words used to describe millennials. The largest generation in U.S. history—an emerging consumer powerhouse—is making significant cultural changes centered around revolutionary, life-enhancing technologies. Tomorrow’s successes are sure to stem from millennials who are pushing the limits.

Perhaps fewer ecosystems can benefit more from this work force’s M.O. than cyberspace, experts shared during the recent debut of a Young AFCEAN panel at West 2017.

April 1, 2017
By Orlando Padilla

If you have been living in a cave, Malaysia’s Borneo rainforest or the 1950s, then you might be among the few people unfamiliar with the power of crowdsourcing.

The term, a convenient meshing of the words crowd and outsourcing, refers to tapping a group of people with similar skills or interests and offering them a venue through which they compete or collaborate to accomplish a particular task, job or goal. Typically, crowdsourcing is carried out by leveraging the ubiquitous connectivity of the Internet. (For more, see “Crowdsourcing Confronts Cyber Challenges.”)

March 1, 2017
By Alisha F. Kelly

Ask Siri to tell you a joke and Apple’s virtual assistant usually bombs. The voice-controlled system’s material is limited and profoundly mediocre. It’s not Siri’s fault. That is what the technology knows. 

According to a knowledgeable friend, machines operate in specific ways. They receive inputs. They process those inputs. They deliver outputs. Of course, I argued. Not because I believed he was wrong, but because I had a lofty notion of the limitations of machines and what artificial intelligence (AI) could become.  

February 1, 2017
By Senior Airman Ryan René Rosado, USAF

In this era of e-commerce, a person can pay for a coffee by simply using a cellphone. Clearly, we have come a long way from trading goats and pelts for goods, but the global method of exchanging currency has advanced little. The world largely relies on the paper money system started by the Chinese Tang Dynasty, despite the enormous expense to maintain physical currency.

January 1, 2017
By Farisa Dastvar

It is about time federal contractor employees received benefits equal to their in-house peers. 

In November, the long-awaited final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor mandated that federal contractors provide paid sick leave to certain employees. The regulation covers both new federal contracts and replacements to expired contracts.

Although some cities and states require that employers offer paid sick leave, no federal law mandates the employment benefit across the board. The United States is the only industrialized nation without paid leave. 

December 1, 2016
By Jesse Nielsen

The U.S. intelligence community (IC) must transform its ability to discern threats from hundreds of millions of data points that flood databases each day and provide timely, actionable findings to warfighters and government officials. As it stands, agencies devote too much time, money and talent to reading data and must find new ways to keep their edge over adversaries. One way of addressing the problem is turning analysts’ thoughts into digital analytic models.

You read that correctly.

November 1, 2016
By Capt. Ryan Robinson, USA

The burgeoning cyber domain as a battlefront has done more than shift the front lines for warfighters—it has virtually erased them. At the same time, traditional armies continue to threaten U.S. national security both at home and abroad. Given the scope of cyber and conventional warfare, how does the U.S. military balance its competing needs? 

October 1, 2016
By Jennifer A. Miller

For decades, private companies have implemented enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to improve their businesses. However, for all the promises of efficiencies behind the demanding approach, a majority of ERP system implementations fail. Even so, the U.S. government wants to pursue ERP systems.

Regardless of the bad press these systems have received, there is an emerging public-sector market interested in them—and for good reason. ERP systems offer the only holistic alternative to the inefficient legacy systems plaguing the federal government.

September 1, 2016
By Ryan René Rosado

The U.S. Defense Department and the federal government could piggyback on the recent blockbuster popularity of Pokemon Go, the location-based augmented reality game that catapulted some couch potatoes from their sofas to the great outdoors, to transform cyber training. The mobile app, an overnight international sensation, combines the virtual world of Pokemon with the real world in which people live.

The gaming craze offers insights on how to excite people to partake in—and really learn from—cybersecurity training.

July 1, 2016
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

The time has arrived for the U.S. Defense Department to develop an enterprise solution for the coming wave of augmented reality (AR) systems. Unlike virtual reality (VR) systems that fully immerse users in computer-generated worlds, AR systems overlay virtual content on a user’s perceptual field of view using 2- and 3-D holograms. These images either remain fixed to a user’s perspective as he moves his body and head or anchored to georeferenced locations in a user’s surroundings.

March 1, 2016
By Andrew F. Coffey, Ph.D.

Rapidly evolving cyberthreats challenge all levels of government, and recent incidents such as the Office of Personnel Management data breach illustrate the importance of shielding public and private-sector organizations from such attacks.