[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to introduce a new, quarterly feature, entitled “The Monolith.” Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick fans alike will recognize and appreciate our allusion to the alien artifact responsible for “uplifting” mankind from primitive, defenseless hominids into tool using killers — destined for the stars — from their respective short story, “The Sentinel,” and movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” We hope that you will similarly benefit from this post (although perhaps in not quite so evolutionary a manner!), reflecting the Mad Scientist Teams’ collective book and movie recommendations — Enjoy!]
The Future of War by Sir Lawrence Freedman. The evolution of warfare has taken some turns that were quite unexpected and were heavily influenced by disruptive technologies of the day. Sir Lawrence examines the changing character of warfare over the last several centuries, how it has been influenced by society and technology, the ways in which science fiction got it wrong and right, and how it might take shape in the future. This overarching look at warfare causes one to pause and consider whether we may be asking the right questions about future warfare.
They Shall Not Grow Old directed by Sir Peter Jackson. This lauded 2018 documentary utilizes original film footage from World War I (much of it unseen for the past century) that has been digitized, colorized, upscaled, and overlaid with audio recordings from British servicemen who fought in the war. The divide between civilians untouched by the war and service members, the destructive impact of new disruptive technologies, and the change they wrought on the character of war resonate to this day and provide an excellent historical analogy from which to explore future warfare.
Runaway directed by Michael Crichton. This film, released in 1984, is set in the near future, where a police officer (Tom Selleck) and his partner (Cynthia Rhodes) specialize in neutralizing malfunctioning robots. A rogue killer robot – programmed to kill by the bad guy (Gene Simmons) – goes on homicidal rampage. Alas, the savvy officers begin to uncover a wider, nefarious plan to proliferate killer robots. This offbeat Sci-Fi thriller illustrates how dual-use technologies in the hands of super-empowered individuals could be employed innovatively in the Future Operational Environment. Personalized warfare is also featured, as a software developer’s family is targeted by the ‘bad guy,’ using a corrupted version of the very software he helped create. This movie illustrates the potential for everyday commercial products to be adapted maliciously by adversaries, who, unconstrained ethically, can out-innovate us with convergent, game changing technologies (robotics, CRISPR, etc.).
The Military Science of Star Wars by George Beahm. Storytelling is a powerful tool used to visualize the future, and Science Fiction often offers the best trove of ideas. The Military Science of Star Wars by George Beahm dissects and analyzes the entirety of the Star Wars Universe to mine for information that reflects the real world and the future of armed conflict. Beahm tackles the personnel, weapons, technology, tactics, strategy, resources, and lessons learned from key battles and authoritatively links them to past, current, and future Army challenges. Beahm proves that storytelling, and even fantasy (Star Wars is more a fantasy story than a Science Fiction story), can teach usabout the real world and help evolve our thinking to confront problems in new and novel ways. He connects the story to the past, present, and future Army and asks important questions, like “What makes Han Solo a great military Leader?”, “How can a military use robots (Droids) effectively?”, and most importantly, “What, in the universe, qualified Jar Jar Binks to be promoted to Bombad General?”.
Ex Machina directed by Alex Garland. This film, released in 2014, moves beyond the traditional questions surrounding the feasibility of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Turing test to explore the darker side of synthetic beings, knowing that it is achievable and that the test can be passed. The film is a cautionary tale of what might be possible at the extreme edge of AI computing and innovation where control may be fleeting or even an illusion. The Army may never face the same consequences that the characters in the film face, but it can learn from their lessons. AI is a hotly debated topic with some saying it will bring about the end of days, and others saying generalized AI will never exist. With a future this muddy, one must be cautious of exploring new and undefined technology spaces that carry so much risk. As more robotic entities areoperationalized, and AI further permeates the battlefield, future Soldiers and Leaders would do well to stay abreast of thepotential for volatility in an already chaotic environment. If Military AI progresses substantially, what will happen when we try to turn it off?
Apollo 11directed by Todd Douglas Miller. As the United States prepares to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned mission to the lunar surface later this summer, this inspiring documentary reminds audiences of just how audacious an achievement this was. Using restored archival audio recordings and video footage (complemented by simple line animations illustrating each of the spacecrafts’ maneuver sequences), Todd Miller skillfully re-captures the momentousness of this historic event, successfully weaving together a comprehensive point-of-view of the mission. Watching NASA and its legion of aerospace contractors realize the dream envisioned by President Kennedy eight years before serves to remind contemporary America that we once dared and dreamed big, and that we can do so again, harnessing the energy of insightful and focused leadership with the innovation of private enterprise. This uniquely American attribute may well tip the balance in our favor, given current competition and potential future conflicts with our near-peer adversaries in the Future Operational Environment.
Artemis by Andy Weir. In his latest novel, following on the heels of his wildly successful The Martian, Andy Weir envisions an established lunar city in 2080 through the eyes of Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, one of its citizen-hustlers, who becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy to control the tremendous wealth generated from the space and lunar mineral resources refined in the Moon’s low-G environment. His suspenseful plot, replete with descriptions of the science and technologies necessary to survive (and thrive!) in the hostile lunar environment, posits a late 21st century rush to exploit space commodities. The resultant economic boom has empowered non-state actors as new competitors on the global — er, extraterrestrial stage — from the Kenya Space Corporation (blessed by its equatorial location and reduced earth to orbit launch costs) to the Sanchez Aluminum mining and refining conglomerate, controlled by a Brazilian crime syndicate scheming to take control of the lunar city. Readers are reminded that the economic hegemony currently enjoyed by the U.S., China, and the E.U. may well be eclipsed by visionary non-state actors who dare and dream big enough to exploit the wealth that lies beyond the Earth’s gravity well.
[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to publish today’s post by Collin Meisel and returning guest blogger Dr. Jonathan D. Moyer, both of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures. Eschewing another discussion of disruptive emergent technologies, Mr. Meisel and Dr. Moyer instead focus on persistent global trends that, while perhaps not as sexy as artificial intelligence or quantum computing, are just as relevant to warfighters preparing for competition and conflict with potential adversaries in the Future Operational Environment!]
Too often, discussion of the Future Operational Environment (FOE) is filled with science fiction-inspired speculation of a world driven by the likes ofquantum artificial intelligence (AI) and “self-constructing robotic ‘cyburgs’”. While these andsimilar potential technological developments are entertaining—and even useful to ponder—we should not let them distract us from less sensational but also consequential trends that are sure to transform the FOE in the coming decades, such as persistent demographic and economic shifts among great powers and the developing world. In other words, let’s take the “hype” out ofhyperwar (i.e., a possible future where AI calls the shots on the battlefield).
Rather than speculating about what could become of these much-hyped technological developments, a more productive use of time is to consider, for example, the serious threat that more limited versions of quantum computing and AI might still pose in, say, the hands of adeclining China. Even as it rises, China is up against long-term, persistent trends—such as a forthcoming shrinking population and the predicament ofaging before it gets rich—that are sure to impact geopolitics in East Asia and beyond as the Chinese Communist Party, which in partjustifiesits one-party rule by continued prosperity,clings to power. Indeed, this is a foreseeable, understandable future—the opposite of hype and speculation.
As another increasingly important geopolitical player, India faces its own set of structural shifts in a direction much different from that of China. With relatively high birth rates and lower death rates compared to China, India’s population will likely continue to rise—and, in part, drive economic growth—as its counterpart to the northeast begins to wither. While these forecasts are of one possible future, their consistency with trends over the last half-century suggests that policymakers in the United States and elsewhere should be preparing for such a world. And what of other persistent demographic trends? Although we cannot know for certain what Africa’s growth to nearly one-third of the world’s population by 2060 will mean in light of Europe’s simultaneous contraction, we can say with a fair degree of certainty that such a demographic shift is likely to happen given persistent global trends. Again, these are understandable futures; they are what is and has been happening, not hype.
Using the freely-available, open-source International Futures tool, we and our colleagues at the Pardee Center for International Futures are working with the Army Future Studies Group (AFSG) to think about long-term futures by examining these and other persistent trends in areas ranging from material power to natural systems. For example, AFSG fellows are asked to think about the planet’s water systems, impending water shortages across regions like Central and Western Asia and Northern Africa, and what they might mean for regional development and potentialconflicts. While study of these less buzz-worthy trends may not tell the Army how it will be fightingwars of the future, it can at least help forecast trends that point to where and with whom.
Demographic transitions and shrinking aquifers may not have the same pizzazz aswarfare at the speed of thought and other elements of theAI battlefield, but they possess equal potential to transform the FOE in fundamental ways. More importantly, these less sensational but persistent structural shifts can be considered in combination to develop plausible, understandable future scenarios—not science fiction fantasy. To be clear, hyperwar and its accompanying technologies still deserve attention, so long as those considering them do not get caught up in the hype. The goal of futures studies should be to strive towards a more understandable future—then we can worry about Elon Musk and the impending AI apocalypse.
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[Editor’s Note: Returning guest blogger Frank Prautzsch peers 34 years into the past to explore how the blockbuster film “Back to the Future” and its sequels portrayed a number of fantastic technologies that have since evolved from pure science fiction into reality in 2019; then looks forward a similar number of years to envision future technological possibilities in 2053. Enjoy Mr. Prautzsch’s post and dare to “live outside-of-the-box” and imagine the true edge cases of the possible!]
On 3 July 1985, writer/producers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale first brought Marty McFly and Doc Brown to the big screen in the amazing hit “Back to the Future.” Younger generations will need to stream this motion picture for themselves to learn about technological vision in the Reagan era, while taking a glimpse at social norms and life in 1955. With all the thrills of science fiction and time travel, we munched on popcorn, witnessing nothing short of the bizarre in fictional technology and science. This motion picture was such a success that two sequels followed in 1989 and 1990.
Such motion pictures were more than entertainment; they pulled on our technical imagination and eventually on our goals to attain these technologies. As Mad Scientists, we often don’t want to profess a deep or incisive long shot at futuristic technology for fear of ridicule… of being wrong… or of disbelief in ourselves… and we continue to second guess our imagination, rather than offer our vision of the future. Are the visionaries confined to Hollywood? It is important for planners and strategic thinkers alike to not just “think out-of-the-box” but to “LIVE there.” Every Mad Scientist’s artwork should get an “F” for staying inside the lines!
As we look in the rear-view mirror at “Back to the Future” from 2019, 34 years have passed. As we look “Ahead to the Future,” 34 years from now, today’s chronological apex places us at the controls and gadgets of the 2053 warfighter. 2019 is a dividing and divining point between the past and the future. Why all this build up? Notably, all of the technologies from “Back the Future” either exist or are in the progress of existing… including “time” travel.
Here are some tangible examples today which were irrational in 1985:
a. The Flying DeLorean. While it looks positively nothing like the original, DeLorean Aerospace LLC developed the DLC-7 flying car. At nearly 20 ft. long and 18 ft. wide, this craft has auto-stow wings that allow the car to occupy the family garage.
b. The Hoverboard. The Arca Aerospace Corporation‘s ArcaBoard harnesses ducted electric fans generating 272 horsepower to carry a 180 lb. pilot at 12.5 mph.
c. Self-Lacing Sneakers. Motivated by both this subject motion picture and the needs of the handicapped, Nike Corporation developedself-lacing sneakers. Albeit pricey, such sneakers were magical 34 years ago, and now they are a commodity.
d. Time Travel. While the ability to conduct time reversal in nature is still unattained, a team of scientists led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory explored this question in a first-of-its-kind experiment, managing to return a computer briefly to the past. The results,published March 13 of this year in the journal Nature‘s Scientific Reports, suggests new paths for exploring the backward flow of time in quantum systems. They also open new possibilities for quantum computer program testing and error correction. Additional work at IBM verifies that photons in a quantum state can occupy two realities at the same time.
e. The Cubs Winning the World’s Series. After beating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 and winning three straight games, the Chicago Cubs officially put an end to their 108-year title drought during Game 7 of the 2016 MLB World Series.
From Nov 8-11, 2018, an independent survey of 2,201 adults, found that 71 percent said that they’d be likely to watch another outing of Marty McFly and Doc Brown, ahead of other franchises such as Pixar’s Toy Story (69 percent), Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones (68 percent), and Universal’s Jurassic Park (67 percent).1 There is a visionary technology nerd trapped in all of us. So why not a Tetralogy? With the same angst of the future, the producers and writers of the previous trilogy series don’t desire to mess with success.
While the Mad Scientist community remains visionary regarding warfare and weapons systems, by 2054, virtually any platform or system will be of commercial origin. In his bestselling book, Norman Augustine (the former President and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation) highlights his “Laws” about business management and government procurements. Similar cost growth ramps will likely apply to Army platforms. From the beginnings of tactical aircraft until today, the cost of an aircraft has increased four-fold every 10 years.
Augustine professes that LAW NUMBER XVI applies:
“In the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one aircraft. The aircraft will have to be shared by the Air Force and Navy. 3 ½ days each per week except for leap year, when it will be made available to the Marines for the extra day.”2
As we stand in 2019 and gaze forward to 2053, the following point technologies may be more than the script for “Back to the Future IV.” Should Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale elect to change their minds and write “Back to the Future IV…The Tetralogy,” the following are just some (but by no means all) of the key commercial technical attributes of our 2053 world:
a. 8G in-situ, ultra-high speed, real time mobile connectivity and all sensory immersion at the edge.
b. Wireless high capacity, high efficiency, medium and high tension power distribution using Zenneck waves.
c. Green 100 mAh to 5 MW Batteries, energy harvesting, and mass storage that require little or no recharge and last until load device obsolescence.
d. Personal, Service-based, and Business Flying Cars and Jetpacks.
e. “Supersonic-plus” intercontinental flight.
f. Night vision eyeglasses, lasik-like night vision implants and contact lenses.
g. Quantum and organic computer augmentation and Quantum networks for Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence, Cyber, and Cyborg functions.
h. Robotic Cyber and counter-Cyber Operations.
i. Quantum Entanglement algorithms for prediction, interaction, and discovery management for new materials, chemicals, medicines, sensing, encryption, communications, information teleportation, and hybrid periodic elements.
j. Multi-domain unmanned and collaborative AI systems that fly, loiter, swim, drive, submerge, and multi-sense persistently (with some that do all of these functions).
k. Printed and stem cell vacuum grown replaceable bones, organs, muscles and skin.
l. Tailored immunotherapy pathogen disease treatment and recovery (including cancer).
m. Tailored-dose printed medicines with robotic dose delivery.
n. Ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor environments, with human privacy only achieved through electronic cloaking using e-nanofabrics.
o. Expanded use of graphene and carbon for light and resilient structural and micro-electronic/quantum markets.
p. Expanded use of nuclear, hydrogen, and fusion-based power to combat runaway climate change and end oil-dependence.
q. A major pep rally for the Cleveland Indians who, after a 104-year drought, win the World Series.
While there are millions of other technical discoveries that have yet to occur, “living out-of-the-box” requires Mad Scientists to accept a risky vision, open the lid on the top of the military’s reality box, and wave to all the inventors and innovators that are inside looking at you.
In his current role as President of Velocity Technology Partners LLC, Mr. Frank Prautzsch (LTC, Ret. Signal Corps) is recognized as a technology and business leader supporting the government and is known for exposing or crafting innovative technology solutions for the DoD, SOF, DHS and Intelligence community. He also provides consult to the MEDSTAR Institute for Innovation. His focus is upon innovation and not invention. Mr. Prautzsch holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, is a distinguished graduate of the Marine Corps Signal Advanced Course, Army Airborne School, Ranger School, and Command and General Staff College. He also holds a Master of Science Degree from Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California with a degree in Systems Technology (C3) and Space.
1 “Which Movie Franchise should Return? “Back to the Future” Tops New Poll” (The Hollywood Reporter Magazine, Nov 20, 2018) pg. 1.
2 Norman R. Augustine, Augustine’s Laws (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., 1986.) pg. 106-7.
[Editor’s Note:Story Telling is a powerful tool that allows us to envision how innovative and potentially disruptive technologies could be employed and operationalized in the Future Operational Environment. In today’s guest blog post, proclaimed Mad Scientist Mr. August Cole and Mr. Amir Husain use story telling to effectively:
Describe what the future might look like if our adversaries out-innovate us using Artificial Intelligence and cheap robotics;
Address how the U.S. might miss a strategic breakthrough due to backward-looking analytical mindsets; and
Imagine an unconventional Allied response in Europe to an emboldened near-peer conflict.
Enjoy reading how the NATO Alliance could react to Omega — “a Russian autonomous joint force in a … ready-to-deploy box… [with an] area-denial bubble projected by their new S-600s extend[ing] all the way to the exo-sphere, … cover[ing] the entirety of the ground, sea and cyber domains” — on the cusp of a fictional not-so-distant future near-peer conflict!]
22 KILOMETERS NORTH OF KYIV / UKRAINE
“Incoming!” shouted Piotr Nowak, a master sergeant in Poland’s Jednostka Wojskowa Komandosówspecial operations unit. Dropping to the ground, he clawed aside a veil of brittle green moss to wedge himself into a gap beneath a downed tree. He hoped the five other members of his military advisory team, crouched around the fist-shaped rock formation behind him, heard his shouts. To further reinforce Ukraine’s armed forces against increasingly brazen Russian military support for separatists in the eastern part of the country, Poland’s government had been quietly supplying military trainers. A pro-Russian military coup in Belarus two weeks earlier only served to raise tensions in the region – and the stakes for the JWK on the ground.
An instant later incoming Russian Grad rocket artillery announced itself with a shrill shriek. Then a rapid succession of sharp explosive pops as the dozen rockets burst overhead. Nowak quickly realized these weren’t ordinary fires.
There was no spray of airburst shrapnel or the lung-busting concussion of a thermobaric munition. Instead, it sounded like summer fireworks – the explosive separation of the 122mm rocket artillery shell’s casing. Once split open, each weapon’s payload deployed an air brake to slow its approach.
During that momentary silence, Nowak edged out slightly from under the log to look up at the sky. He saw the drifting circular payload extend four arms and then, suddenly, it came to life as it sprang free of its parachute harness. With a whine from its electric motors, the quadcopter darted out of sight.
That sound built and built over the next minute as eleven more of these Russian autonomous drones darted menacingly in a loose formation through the forest above the Polish special operations commandos. Nowak cursed the low-profile nature of their mission: The Polish soldiers had not yet received the latest compact American counter-UAS electronic-warfare systems that could actually fit in their civilian Skoda Kodiaq SUVs.
Nowak held his airplane-mode mobile phone out from under the log to film the drones, using his arm like a selfie-stick. Nowak needed to report in what he was seeing – this was proof Russian forces had turned their new AI battle management system online inside Ukraine. But he also knew that doing so would be a death sentence, whether he texted the video on the country’s abominably slow mobile networks or used his secure NATO comms. These Russian drones could detect either type of transmission in an instant. Once the drones cued to his transmission he would be targeted either by their own onboard anti-personnel munitions or a follow-on strike by conventional artillery.
This was no mere variation on the practice of using Leer-3 drones for electronic warfare and to spot for Russian artillery. It marked the first-ever deployment of an entirely new Russian AI battle system complex, Omega. Nowak had only heard about the Russians firing entire drone swarms from inexpensive Grad rocket-artillery rounds once before in Syria while deployed with a US task force. But they had never done so in Ukraine, at least not that he knew about. Most observers chalked up Russia’sSyrian experimentationswith battlefield robots and drone swarms to clumsy failures. Clearly something had changed.
With his phone, Nowak recorded how the drones appeared to be coordinating their search activities as if they were a single hive intelligence. They divided the dense forest into cells they searched cooperatively. Within seconds, they climbed and dove from treetop height looking for anyone or anything hiding below.
At that very instant, the drone’s computer vision algorithms detected Novak’s team. Each and every one of them. Within seconds, six of the aggressively maneuvering drones revealed themselves in a disjointed dive down from the treetops and zoomed in on the JWK fighters’ positions.
Nobody needed to be told what to do. The team raised their weapons and fired short bursts at the Russian drones. One shattered like a clay pigeon. But two more buzzed into view to take its place. Another drone went down to a shotgun-fired SkyNet round. Then the entire drone formation shifted its flight patterns, dodging and maneuvering even more erratically, making it nearly impossible to shoot the rest down. The machines learned from their own losses, Nowak realized. Would his superiors do the same for him?
Nowak emptied his magazine with a series of quick bursts, but rather than reload he put his weapon aside and rolled out from under the log. Fully exposed and clutching the phone with shaking hands, he hastily removed one of his gloves with his teeth. Then he switched the device on. Network connected. He scrolled to the video of the drones. Send! Send! Send!
Eleven seconds later, Novak’s entire Polish JWK special forces team lay dead on the forest floor.
Omega is not any one specific weapon, rather it is made up of a menagerie of Russian weapons, large and small. It’s as if you fused information warfare, SAMs, fires, drones, tactical autonomous bots… There’s everything from S-600 batteries to cheap Katyusha-style rocket artillery to Uran-9 and -13 tanks. But it is what controls the hardware that makes Omega truly unique: AI. At its core, it’s an artificial intelligence system fusing data from thousands of sensors, processed information, and found patterns that human eyes and minds cannot fathom. The system’s AI is not only developing a comprehensive real-time picture, it’s also developing probabilities and possible courses of enemy action. It can coordinate thousands of “shooters”, from surface-to-air missiles, to specialized rocket artillery deploying autonomous tactical drones like the ones that killed the JWK team, to UGVs like the latest Uran-13 autonomous tracked units.
The developers of the Omega system incorporated technologies such as software-defined radio, which uses universal receivers that could listen in to a broad array of frequencies. Thousands of these bands are monitored with machine learning algorithms to spot insurgent radio stations, spy on the locations of Ukrainian military and police, and even determine if a certain frequency is being used to remotely control explosives or other military equipment. When a threat is discovered, the system will dispatch drones to observe the triangulated location of the source. If the threat needs to be neutralized a variety of kinetic systems – from guided artillery shells to loitering munitions and autonomous drones – can be dispatched for the kill.
If you enjoyed this excerpt, please:
Readthe complete Omegashort story, hosted by our colleagues at the Atlantic Council NATOSource blog,
Learn how the U.S. Joint Force and our partners are preparing to prevail in competition with our strategic adversaries and, when necessary, penetrate and dis-integrate their anti-access and area denial systems and exploit the resultant freedom of maneuver to achieve strategic objectives (win) and force a return to competition on favorable terms in The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028 Executive Summary, and
Reminder: You only have 1 week leftto enter your submissions for the Mad Scientist Science Fiction Writing Contest 2019. Clickherefor more information about the contest and how to submit your short story(ies) for consideration by our 1 April 2019deadline!
Mr. August Cole is a proclaimed Mad Scientist, author, and futurist focusing on national security issues. He is a non-resident senior fellow at the Art of the Future Project at the Atlantic Council. He also works on creative foresight at SparkCognition, an artificial intelligence company, and is a senior advisor at Avascent, a consulting firm. His novel with fellow proclaimed Mad Scientist P.W. Singer, entitled Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, explores the future of great power conflict and disruptive technologies in wartime.
Mr. Amir Husain is the founder and CEO of SparkCognition, a company envisioned to be at the forefront of the “AI 3.0” revolution. He serves as advisor and board member to several major institutions, including IBM Watson, University of Texas Department of Computer Science, Makerarm, ClearCube Technology, uStudio and others; and his work has been published in leading tech journals, including Network World, IT Today, and Computer World. In 2015, Amir was named Austin’s Top Technology Entrepreneur of the Year.
Disclaimer: This publication is a work of fiction by Messrs. August Cole and Amir Husain, neither of whom have any affiliation with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, the U.S. Army, or the U.S. Government. This piece is meant to be thought-provoking and entertaining, and does not reflect the current position of the U.S. Army.
[Editor’s Note: Since its inception in November 2017, the Mad Scientist Laboratory has enabled us to expand our reach and engage global innovators from across industry, academia, and the Government regarding emergent disruptive technologies and their individual and convergent impacts on the future of warfare. For perspective, our blog has accrued 106K views by over 57K visitors from around the world!
Our Mad Scientist Community of Action continues to grow — in no small part due to the many guest bloggers who have shared their provocative, insightful, and occasionally disturbing visions of the future. To date, 53% of the blogposts published have been submitted by guest bloggers! We challenge you all to contribute your ideas about warfare and the Future Operational Environment!
In particular, we would like to recognize proclaimed Mad Scientist Dr. Alexander Kott by re-posting our review of his paper,Ground Warfare in 2050: How It Might Look, original published by the US Army Research Laboratory in August 2018. This paper provides a technological forecast of autonomous intelligent agents and robots and their potential for employment on future battlefields in the year 2050.
Our review of Dr. Kott’s paper generated a record number of visits and views during the past six month period. Consequently, we hereby declare Dr. Kott to be the Mad Scientist Laboratory’s “Maddest” Guest Blogger! for the first and second quarters of FY19. In recognition of this achievement, Dr. Kott will receive much coveted Mad Scientist swag!
Enjoy today’s post as we revisit Dr. Kott’s conclusions with links to our previously published posts supporting his findings.]
Ground Warfare in 2050: How It Might Look
In his paper, Dr. Kott addresses two major trends (currently under way) that will continue to affect combat operations for the foreseeable future. They are:
• The employment of small aerial drones for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) will continue, making concealment difficult and eliminating distance from opposing forces as a means of counter-detection. This will require the development and use of decoy capabilities (also intelligent robotic devices). This counter-reconnaissance fight will feature prominently on future battlefields between autonomous sensors and countermeasures – “a robot-on-robot affair.”
• The continued proliferation of intelligent munitions, operating at greater distances, collaborating in teams to seek out and destroy designated targets, and able to defeat armored and other hardened targets, as well as defiladed and entrenched targets.
• Intelligent munitions will be neutralized “primarily by missiles and only secondarily by armor and entrenchments. Specialized autonomous protection vehicles will be required that will use their extensive load of antimissiles to defeat the incoming intelligent munitions.”
• Forces will exploit “very complex terrain, such as dense forest and urban environments” for cover and concealment, requiring the development of highly mobile “ground robots with legs and limbs,” able to negotiate this congested landscape.
• The proliferation of autonomous combat systems on the battlefield will generate an additional required capability — “a significant number of specialized robotic vehicles that will serve as mobile power generation plants and charging stations.”
• “To gain protection from intelligent munitions, extended subterranean tunnels and facilities will become important. This in turn will necessitate the tunnel-digging robotic machines, suitably equipped for battlefield mobility.”
• All of these autonomous, yet simultaneously integrated and networked battlefield systems will be vulnerable to Cyber-Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA). Consequently, the battle within the Cyber domain will “be fought largely by various autonomous cyber agents that will attack, defend, and manage the overall network of exceptional complexity and dynamics.”
• The “high volume and velocity of information produced and demanded by the robot-intensive force” will require an increasingly autonomous Command and Control (C2) system, with humans increasingly being on, rather than in, the loop.
If you enjoyed reading this post, please watch Dr. Alexander Kott’s presentation, “The Network is the Robot,” from the Mad Scientist Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Autonomy: Visioning Multi-Domain Warfare in 2030-2050 Conference, co-sponsored by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), in Atlanta, Georgia, 7-8 March 2017.
Dr. Alexander Kott serves as the ARL’s Chief Scientist. In this role he provides leadership in development of ARL technical strategy, maintaining technical quality of ARL research, and representing ARL to external technical community. He published over 80 technical papers and served as the initiator, co-author and primary editor of over ten books, including most recently Cyber Defense and Situational Awareness (2015) and Cyber Security of SCADA and other Industrial Control Systems (2016), and the forthcoming Cyber Resilience of Systems and Networks (2019).
[Editor’s Note: Just a quick reminder that Mad Scientist is seeking your visions of future combat with our Science Fiction Writing Contest 2019. Our deadline for submission is now one month out — 1 APRIL 2019 — so please review the contest details below, get those creative writing juices flowing, and send us your visions of combat in 2030!]
Background: The U.S. Army finds itself at a historical inflection point, where disparate, yet related elements of an increasingly complexOperational Environment (OE) are converging, creating a situation where fast-moving trends are rapidly transforming the nature of all aspects of society and human life – including the character of warfare. It is important to take a creative approach to projecting and anticipating both transformational and enduring trends that will lend themselves to the depiction of the future. In this vein, the U.S. Army Mad Scientist Initiative is seeking your creativity and unique ideas to describe a battlefield that does not yet exist.
Task: Write about the following scenario – On March 17th, 2030, the country of Donovia, after months of strained relations and covert hostilities, invades neighboring country Otso. Donovia is a wealthy nation that is a near-peer competitor to the United States. Like the United States, Donovia has invested heavily indisruptive technologies such as robotics, AI, autonomy, quantum information sciences, bio enhancements and gene editing, space-based weapons and communications, drones, nanotechnology, and directed energy weapons. The United States is a close ally of Otso and is compelled to intervene due to treaty obligations and historical ties. The United States is about to engage Donovia in its first battle with a near-peer competitor in over 80 years…
Three ways to approach:
1) Forecasting – Description of the timeline and events leading up to the battle.
2) Describing – Account of the battle while it’s happening.
3) Backcasting – Retrospective look after the battle has ended (i.e., After Action Review or lessons learned).
Three questions to consider while writing (U.S., adversaries, and others):
1) What will forces and Soldiers look like in 2030?
2) What technologies will enable them or be prevalent on the battlefield?
3) What doMulti-Domain Operations look like in 2030?
– No more than 5000 words in length
– Provide your submission in .doc or .docx format
– Please use conventional text formatting (e.g., no columns) and have images “in line” with text
– Submissions from Government and DoD employees must be cleared through their respective PAOs prior to submission
– MUST include completed release form (on the back of contest flyer)
– CANNOT have been previously published
Selected submissions may be chosen for publication or a possible future speaking opportunity.
Contact: Send your submissions to: email@example.com
For additional story telling inspiration, please see the following blog posts:
[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to present today’s guest blog post by Mr. Brady Moore and Mr. Chris Sauceda, addressing how Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems and entities conducting machine speed collection, collation, and analysis of battlefield information will free up warfighters and commanders to do what they do best — fight and make decisions, respectively. This Augmented Intelligence will enable commanders to focus on the battle with coup d’œil, or the “stroke of an eye,” maintaining situational awareness on future fights at machine speed, without losing precious time crunching data.]
In the 1996 film Swingers, the characters Trent (played by Vince Vaughn) and Mike (played by Jon Favreau) star as a couple of young guys trying to make it in Hollywood. On a trip to Las Vegas, Trent introduces Mike as “the guy behind the guy” – implying that Mike’s value is that he has the know-how to get things done, acts quickly, and therefore is indispensable to a leading figure. Yes, I’m talking about Artificial Intelligence for Decision-Making on the future battlefield – and “the guy behind the guy” sums up how AI will provide a decisive advantage in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO).
Some of the problems commanders will have on future battlefields will be the same ones they have today and the same ones they had 200 years ago: the friction and fog of war. The rise of information availability and connectivity brings today’s challenges – of which most of us are aware. Advanced adversary technologies will bring future challenges for intelligence gathering, command, communication, mobility, and dispersion. Future commanders and their staffs must be able to deal with both perennial and novel challenges faster than their adversaries, in disadvantageous circumstances we can’t control. “The guy behind the guy” will need to be conversant in vast amounts of information and quick to act.
In western warfare, the original “guy behind the guy” wasn’t Mike – it was this stunning figure. Marshal Louis-Alexandre Berthier was Napoleon Bonaparte’s Chief of Staff from the start of his first Italian campaign in 1796 until his first abdication in 1814. Famous for rarely sleeping while on campaign, Paul Thiebault said of Berthier in 1796:
“Quite apart from his specialist training as a topographical engineer, he had knowledge and experience of staff work and furthermore a remarkable grasp of everything to do with war. He had also, above all else, the gift of writing a complete order and transmitting it with the utmost speed and clarity…No one could have better suited General Bonaparte, who wanted a man capable of relieving him of all detailed work, to understand him instantly and to foresee what he would need.”
Bonaparte’s military record, his genius for war, and skill as a leader are undisputed, but Berthier so enhanced his capabilities that even Napoleon himself admitted about his absence at Waterloo, “If Berthier had been there, I would not have met this misfortune.”
Augmented Intelligence, where intelligent systems enhance human capabilities (rather than systems that aspire to replicate the full scope of human intelligence), has the potential to act as a digital Chief of Staff to a battlefield commander. Just like Berthier, AI for decision-making would free up leaders to clearly consider more factors and make better decisions – allowing them to command more, and research and analyze less. AI should allow humans to do what they do best in combat – be imaginative, compel others, and act with an inherent intuition, while the AI tool finds, processes, and presents the needed information in time.
So Augmented Intelligence would filter information to prioritize only the most relevant and timely information to help manage today’s information overload, as well as quickly help communicate intent – but what about yesterday’s friction and fog, and tomorrow’s adversary technology? The future battlefield seems like one where U.S. commanders will be starved for the kind of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and communication we are so used to today, a battlefield with contested Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) and active cyber effects, whether known or unknown. How can commanders and their staffs begin to overcome challenges we haven’t yet been presented in war?
In his 2013 bookAverage is Over, economist Tyler Cowen examines the way freestyle chess players (who are free to use computers when playing the game) use AI tools to compete and win, and makes some interesting observations that are absolutely applicable to the future of warfare at every level. He finds competitors have to play against foes who have AI tools themselves, and that AI tools make chess move decisions that can be recognized (by people) and countered. The most successful freestyle chess players use a combination of their own knowledge of the game, but pick and choose times and situations to use different kinds of AI throughout a game. Their opponents not only then have to consider which AI is being used against them, but also their human operator’s overall strategy. This combination of Augmented Intelligence with an AI tool, along with natural inclinations and human intuitions will likely result in a powerful equilibrium of human and AI perception, analysis, and ultimately enhanced complex decision-making.
With a well-trained and versatile “guy behind the guy,” a commander and staff could employ different aspects of Augmented Intelligence at different times, based on need or appropriateness. A company commander in a dense urban fight, equipped with an appropriate AI tool – a “guy behind the guy” that helps him make sense of the battlefield – what could that commander accomplish with his company? He could employ the tool to notice things humans don’t – or at least notice them faster and alert him. Changes in historic traffic patterns or electronic signals in an area could indicate an upcoming attack or a fleeing enemy, or the system could let the commander know that just a little more specific data could help establish a pattern where enemy data was scarce. And if the commander was presented with the very complex and large problems that characterize modern dense urban combat, the system could help shrink and sequence problems to make them more solvable – for instance find a good subset of information to experiment with and help prove a hypothesis before trying out a solution in the real world – risking bandwidth instead of blood.
TheU.S. strategy for MDO has already identified the critical need to observe, orient, decide, and act faster than our adversaries – multiple AI tools that have all necessary information, and can present it and act quickly will certainly be indispensable to leaders on the battlefield. An AI “guy behind the guy” continuously sizing up the situation, finding the right information and allowing for better, faster decisions in difficult situations is how Augmented Intelligence will best serve leaders in combat and provide battlefield advantage.
… watch Juliane Gallina‘sArsenal of the Mind presentation at the Mad Scientist Robotics, AI, & Autonomy Visioning Multi Domain Battle in 2030-2050 Conference at Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, on 7-8 March 2017
Brady Moore is a Senior Enterprise Client Executive at Neudesic in New York City. A graduate of The Citadel, he is a former U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces officer with service as a leader, planner, and advisor across Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and, South Asia. After leaving the Army in 2011, he obtained an MBA at Penn State and worked as an IBM Cognitive Solutions Leader covering analytics, AI, and Machine Learning in National Security. He’s the Junior Vice Commander of VFW Post 2906 in Pompton Lakes, NJ, and Cofounder of the Special Forces Association Chapter 58 in New York City. He also works with Elite Meet as often as he can.
Chris Saucedais an account manager within the U.S. Army Defense and Intel IBM account, covering Command and Control, Cyber, and Advanced Analytics/ Artificial Intelligence. Chris served on active duty and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and has been in the Defense contracting business for over 13 years. Focused on driving cutting edge technologies to the warfighter, he also currently serves as a Signal Officer in the Texas Military Department.
[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory welcomes back returning guest blogger and proclaimed Mad Scientist Mr. Samuel Bendett with today’s post, addressing Russia’s commitment to mass produce independent ground combat robotic systems. Simon Briggs, professor of interdisciplinary arts at the University of Edinburgh,predicts that “in 2030 AI will be in routine use to fight wars and kill people, far more effectively than humans can currently kill.” Mr. Bendett’s post below addresses the status of current operationally tested and fielded Russian Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) capabilities, and their pivot to acquire systems able to “independently recognize targets, use weapons, and interact in groups and swarms.” (Note: Some of the embedded links in this post are best accessed using non-DoD networks.)]
Over the past several years, the Russian military has invested heavily in the design, production, and testing of unmanned combat systems. In March 2018, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that mass production of combat robots for the Russian army could begin as early as that year. Now, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) is moving ahead with creating plans for such systems to act independently on the battlefield.
According to theRussian state media (TASS), Russian military robotic complexes (RBCs) will be able to independently recognize targets, use weapons, and interact in groups and swarms. Such plans were stated in the article by the staff of the 3rd Central Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Federation’s MOD.
Russia has already tested several Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) in combat. Its Uran-6, Scarab, and Sphera demining UGVs were rated well by the Russian engineering forces, and there areplans to start acquisition of such vehicles. However, these systems were designed to have their operators close by. When it came to a UGV that was originally built for operator remoteness in potential combat, things got more complicated.
Russia’s Uran-9 combat UGV experienced a large number of failures when tested in Syria, among them transportation, communication, firing, and situational awareness. The lessons from Uran-9 testssupposedly prompted the Russian military to consider placing more emphasis on using such UGVs as one-off attack vehicles against adversary hard points and stationary targets.
Nonetheless, the aforementioned TASS article analyzes the general requirements for unmanned military systems employed by Russian ground forces. Among them is the ability to solve tasks in different combat conditions during day and night, under enemy fire, electronic and informational counteraction, in conditions of radiation, chemical contamination, and electromagnetic attack – as well as requirements such as modularity and multifunctionality. The article also points out “the [systems’] ability to independently perform tasks in conditions of ambiguity” – implying the use of Artificial Intelligence.
To achieve these requirements, the creation of an “intelligent decision-making system” is proposed, which will also supervise the use of weapons. “The way out of this situation is the intensification of research on increasing the autonomy of the RBCs and the introduction of intelligent decision-making systems at the control stages, including group, autonomous movement and use of equipment for its intended purpose, including weapons, into military robotics,” the article says.
The TASS articlestates that in the near future, the MOD is planning to initiate work aimed at providing technical support for solving this problem set. This research will include domestic laser scanning devices for geographical positioning, the development of methods and equipment for determining the permeability of the soil on which the UGV operates, the development of methods for controlling the military robot in “unstable communications,” and the development of methods for analyzing combat environments such as recognizing scenes, images, and targets.
Successfully employing UGVs in combat requires complicated systems, something that the aforementioned initiatives will seek to address. This work will probably rely on Russia’s Syrian experience, as well as on the current projects and upgrades to Moscow’s growing fleet of combat UGVs. On 24 January 2018, the Kalashnikov Design Bureau that oversees the completion of Uran-9 workadmitted that this UGV has been accepted into military service. Although few details were given, the statement did include the fact that this vehicle will be further “refined” based on lessons learned during its Syria deployment, and that the Uran-9 presents “good scientific and technical groundwork for further products.” The extent of upgrades to that vehicle was not given – however,numerous failures in Syrian trials imply that there is lots of work ahead for this project. The statement also indicates that the Uran-9 may be a test-bed for further UGV development, an interesting fact considering the country’s already diverse collection of combat UGVs
Today, the Russian military is testing and evaluating several systems, such as Nerekhtaand Soratnik. The latter was alsosupposedly tested in “near-combat” conditions, presumably in Syria or elsewhere. The MOD has been testing smaller Platforma-Mand large Vikhr combat UGVs, along with other unmanned vehicles. Yet the defining characteristic for these machines so far has been the fact that they were all remote-operated by soldiers, often in near proximity to the machine itself. Endowing these UGVs with more independent decision–making in the “fog of war” via an intelligent command and control system may exponentially increase their combat effectiveness — assuming that such systems can function as planned.
… and watch Zvezda Broadcasting‘svideo, showing a Vikhr unmanned, tele-operated BMP-3 maneuvering and shooting its 7.62mm MG, 30mm cannon, and automatic grenade launcher on a test range.
Automated lethality is but one of the many Future Operational Environment trends that the U.S. Army’s Mad Scientist Initiative is tracking. Mad Scientist seeks to crowdsource your visions of future combat with our Science Fiction Writing Contest 2019. Our deadline for submission is1 APRIL 2019, so please review the contest details and associated release formhere, get those creative writing juices flowing, and send us your visions of combat in 2030! Selected submissions may be chosen for publication or a possible future speaking opportunity.
Samuel Bendett is a Researcher at CNA and a Fellow in Russia Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council. He is also a proud Mad Scientist.
[Editor’s Note: On 8-9 August 2018, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) co-hosted the Mad Scientist Learning in 2050 Conference with Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies in Washington, DC. Leading scientists, innovators, and scholars from academia, industry, and the government gathered to address future learning techniques and technologies that are critical in preparing for Army operations in the mid-21st century against adversaries in rapidly evolving battlespaces. One finding from this conference is that tomorrow’s Soldiers will learn differently from earlier generations, given the technological innovations that will have surrounded them from birth through their high school graduation. To effectively engage these “New Humans” and prepare them for combat on future battlefields, the Army must discard old paradigms of learning that no longer resonate (e.g., those desiccated lectures delivered via interminable PowerPoint presentations) and embrace more effective means of instruction.]
The recruit of 2050 will be born in 2032 and will be fundamentally different from the generations born before them. Marc Prensky, educational writer and speaker who coined the term digital native, asserts this “New Human” will stand in stark contrast to the “Old Human” in the ways they assimilate information and approach learning.1 Where humans today are born into a world with ubiquitous internet, hyper-connectivity, and the Internet of Things, each of these elements are generally external to the human. By 2032, these technologies likely will have converged and will be embedded or integrated into the individual with connectivity literally on the tips of their fingers. The challenge for the Army will be to recognize the implications of this momentous shift and alter its learning methodologies, approach to training, and educational paradigm to account for these digital natives.
These New Humans will be accustomed to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to augment and supplement decision-making in their everyday lives. AI will be responsible for keeping them on schedule, suggesting options for what and when to eat, delivering relevant news and information, and serving as an on-demand embedded expert. The Old Human learned to use these technologies and adapted their learning style to accommodate them, while the New Human will be born into them and their learning style will be a result of them. In 2018, 94% of Americans aged 18-29 owned some kind of smartphone.2 Compare that to 73% ownership for ages 50-64 and 46% for age 65 and above and it becomes clear that there is a strong disconnect between the age groups in terms of employing technology. Both of the leading software developers for smartphones include a built-in artificially intelligent digital assistant, and at the end of 2017, nearly half of all U.S. adults used a digital voice assistant in some way.3 Based on these trends, there likely will be in the future an even greater technological wedge between New Humans and Old Humans.
New Humans will be information assimilators, where Old Humans were information gatherers. The techniques to acquire and gather information have evolved swiftly since the advent of the printing press, from user-intensive methods such as manual research, to a reduction in user involvement through Internet search engines. Now, narrow AI using natural language processing is transitioning to AI-enabled predictive learning. Through these AI-enabled virtual entities, New Humans will carry targeted, predictive, and continuous learning assistants with them. These assistants will observe, listen, and process everything of relevance to the learner and then deliver them information as necessary.
There is an abundance of research on the stark contrast between the three generations currently in the workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.4, 5 There will be similar fundamental differences between Old Humans and New Humans and their learning styles. The New Human likely will value experiential learning over traditional classroom learning.6 The convergence of mixed reality and advanced, high fidelity modeling and simulation will provide New Humans with immersive, experiential learning. For example, Soldiers learning military history and battlefield tactics will be able to experience it ubiquitously, observing how each facet of the battlefield affects the whole in real-time as opposed to reading about it sequentially. Soldiers in training could stand next to an avatar of General Patton and experience him explaining his command decisions firsthand.
There is an opportunity for the Army to adapt its education and training to these growing differences. The Army could—and eventually will need—to recruit, train, and develop New Humans by altering its current structure and recruitment programs. It will become imperative to conduct training with new tools, materials, and technologies that will allow Soldiers to become information assimilators. Additionally, the incorporation of experiential learning techniques will entice Soldiers’ learning. There is an opportunity for the Army to pave the way and train its Soldiers with cutting edge technology rather than trying to belatedly catch up to what is publicly available.
Evolution in Learning Technologies
If you enjoyed this post, please also watch Elliott Masie‘s video presentation onDynamic Readiness and MarkPrensky‘s presentation on The Future of Learning from of the Mad Scientist Learning in 2050 Conference …
[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist welcomes back returning guest blogger Dr. Nir Buras with today’s post. We’ve found crowdsourcing (i.e., the gathering of ideas, thoughts, and concepts from a widespread variety of interested individuals) to be a very effective tool in enabling us to diversify our thoughts and challenge our assumptions. Dr. Buras’ post takes the results from one such crowdsourcing exercise and extrapolates three future urban scenarios. Given The Army Vision‘s clarion call to “Focus training on high-intensity conflict, with emphasis on operating in dense urban terrain,” our readers would do well to consider how the Army would operate in each of Dr. Buras’ posited future scenarios…]
Thechallenges of the 21st century have been forecast and are well-known. In many ways we are already experiencing the future now. But predictions are hard to validate. A way around that is turning to slightly older predictions to illuminate the magnitude of the issues and the reality of their propositions.1Futurists William E. Halal and Michael Marien’s predictions of 2011 have aged enough to be useful. In an improved version of theDelphi method, they iteratively built consensus among participants. Halal and Marien balanced the individual sense of over sixty well-qualified experts and thinkers representing a range of technologies with facilitated feedback from the others. They translated their implicit or tacit know how to make qualified quantitative empirical predictions.2
From their research we can transpose three future urban scenarios: TheHigh-Tech City, The Feral City, and Muddling Through.
The High-Tech City
The High-Tech City scenario is based primarily on futurist Jim Dator’s high-tech predictions. It envisions the continued growth of a technologically progressive, upwardly mobile, internationally dominant, science-guided, rich, leisure-filled, abundant, and liberal society. Widespread understanding of what works largely avoids energy shortages, climate change, and global conflict.3
The high-tech, digital megacity is envisaged as a Dubai on steroids. It is hyper-connected and energy-efficient, powered by self-sustaining, renewable resources and nuclear energy.4
Connected by subways and skyways, with skyscraping vertical gardens, the cities are ringed by elaborately managed green spaces and ecosystems. The city’s 50 to 150-story megastructures, “cities-in-buildings,” incorporate apartments, offices, schools and grocery stores, hospitals and shopping centers, sports facilities and cultural centers, gardens, and running tracks. Alongside them rise vertical farms housing animals and crops. The rooftop garden of the 2015 filmHigh Rise depicts how aerial terraces up high provide a sense of suburban living in the high-tech city.5
On land, zero-emission driverless traffic zips about on intelligent highways. High-speed trains glide silently by. After dark, spider bots and snake drones automatically inspect and repair buildings and infrastructure.6
In the air, helicopters, drones, and flying cars zoom around. Small drones, mimicking insects and birds, and programmable nano-chips, some as small as “smart” dust, swarm over the city into any object or shape on command. To avoid surface traffic, inconvenience, and crime, wealthier residents fly everywhere.7
Dominated by centralized government and private sector bureaucracies wielding AI, these self-constructing robotic “cyburgs” have massive technology, robotics, and nanotechnology embedded in every aspect of their life, powered by mammoth fusion energy plants.8
Every unit of every component is embedded with at least one flea-size chip. Connected into a single worldwide digital network,trillions of sensors monitor countless parameters for the cityand everything in it. The ruling AI, commanded directly by individual minds, autonomously creates, edits, and implements software, simultaneously processing feedback from a global network of sensors.9
The High-Tech City is not a new concept. It goes back to Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Fritz Lang, who most inspired its urban look in the 1927 film Metropolis. The extrapolated growth of technology has long been the basis for predictions. But professional futurists surprisingly agree that a High-Tech Jetsons scenario has only a 0%-5% probability of being realized.10
Poignantly, the early predictors transmitted a message that the stressful lifestyle of the High-Tech City contradicts the intention of freedom from drudge. Moreover, the High-Tech megacities’ appetite for minerals may lay waste to whole ecosystems. Much of the earth may become a feral wilderness. Massive, centralized AI Internet clouds and distribution systems give a false sense of cultural robustness. People become redundant and democracy meaningless. The world may fail to react to accelerated global crises, with disastrous consequences. The paradoxical obsolescence of high-tech could slide humanity into a new Dark Age.11
The Feral City
Futurists disturbingly describe a Decline to Disaster scenario as five times more likely to happen than the high-tech one. From Tainter’s theory of collapse and Jane Jacobs’s Dark Age Ahead we learn that the cycles of urban problem-solving lead to more problems and ultimately failures. If Murphy’s Law kicks in, futurists predict a 60% chance that large parts of the world may be plunged into an Armageddon-type techno-dystopian scenario, typified by the films Mad Max (1979) and Blade Runner (1982).12
Apocalyptic feral cities, once vital components in national economies, are routinely imagined as vast, sprawling urban environments defined by blighted buildings. An immense petri dish of both ancient and new diseases, rule of law has long been replaced by gang anarchy and the only security available in them is attained through brute power.13
Neat suburban areas were long ago stripped for their raw materials. Daily life in feral cities is characterized by a ubiquitous specter of murder, bloodshed, and war, of the militarization of young men, and the constant threat of rape to females. Urban enclaves are separated by wild zones, fragmented habitats consisting of wild nature and subsistence agriculture. With minimal or no sanitation facilities, a complete absence of environmental controls, and massive populations, feral cities suffer from extreme air pollution from vehicles and the use of open fires and coal for cooking and heating. In effect toxic-waste dumps, these cities pollute vast stretches of land, poisoning coastal waters, watersheds, and river systems throughout their hinterlands.14
Pollution is exported outside the enclaves, where the practices of the desperately poor, and the extraction of resources for the wealthy, induce extreme environmental deterioration. Rivers flow with human waste and leached chemicals from mining, contaminating much of the soil on their banks.15
Globally connected, a feral city might possess a modicum of commercial linkages, and some of its inhabitants might have access to advanced communication and computing. In some areas, agriculture might forcefully cultivate high-yield, GMO, and biomass crops. But secure long-distance travel nearly disappears, undertaken mostly by the super-rich and otherwise powerful.16
Futurists backcasting from 2050 say that the current urbanization of violence and war are harbingers of the feral city scenario. But feral cities have long been present. The Warsaw Ghetto in World War Two was among them, as were the Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood in the 1960s and 1990s; Mogadishu in 2003, and Gaza repeatedly.17
Conflict and crime changed once charming, peaceful Aleppo, Bamako, Caracas, Erbil, Mosul, Tripoli, and Salvador into feral cities. Medieval San Gimignano was one. Spectacularly, from 1889 to 1994 the ghastly spaces of Hong Kong’s singular urban phenomenon, theWalled City of Kowloon, provided a living example.18
The good news is that futurists tend to believe in a 65%-85% probability of a Muddling Through scenario. Despite interlinked, cascading catastrophes, they suggest that technologies may gain some on the problems. Somehow securing a sustainable world for 9 billion people by 2050, they suggest the world will be massively changed, yet somehow livable.19
Lending credibility to the Muddling Through scenario is that it blends numerous hypotheses. It predicts that people living in rural communities will tend the land scientifically. Its technological salvation hypothesis posits that science will come to the rescue. Its free market hypothesis assumes that commerce will drive technological advancements.20
It pictures a “conserver” society tinged by Marxism, a neo-puritan “ecotopia,” colored by both the high-tech and feral scenarios. Tropical diseases, corruption, capitalism, socialism, inequality, and war are not eradicated. But nationalism, tribalism, and xenophobia are reduced after global traumas. Though measurably poorer, most people will still have a reasonable level of wellbeing.21 According to the Muddling Through scenario, large cities retract and densify around their old centers and waterfronts. Largely self-sufficient, small towns and cities survive amid the ruins of suburban sprawl, separated by resurgent forests and fields. Shopping malls, office towers and office parks, town dumps, tract homes, and abandoned steel and glass buildings are stripped for their recyclables. Unsalvageable downtowns in some cases go feral.22
A mix of high and low tech fosters digital communication with those at a distance. There would be drip irrigation, hydroponic farming, aquaculture, and grey water recycling, overlaid with artificial intelligence, biotechnology and biomimicry, nuclear power, geoengineering, and oil from algae.23
In some places, rail links are maintained, but cars are a rarity, and transportation is greatly reduced. Collapsed or dismantled freeways and bridges return to the forest or desert. While flying still exists, it is rarer. But expanded virtual mobility offering “holodeck” experiences subsumes tourism. Cosmopolitanism happens on the porch with an iPad.24
Surprisingly, the Muddling Through scenario ends up with urban fabric similar in properties tohomeostatic planning had it been done intentionally. Work is a short walk from home. Corner stores pop up, as do rudimentary cafés, bistros, and other gathering places. Forty percent of the food is produced in or around cities on small farms. Wildlife returns to course freely. Groups of travelers move on surviving “high roads.” Communities meet at large sports venues situated in the countryside between them.25
Sea level rise is met with river and sea walls. At their base, vast new coral beds and kelp forests grow over the skeletons of submerged districts and towns. In a matter of years, rivers and seas build new beaches. Their flood plains are populated with new plants. Smaller scale trade waterfronts are reactivated for shipping, and some ships are even powered by sail. Cities occupying harbors, rivers, and railroad junctions reconnect to distant supply chains, mostly for non-quotidian (i.e., luxury) goods.26
Learning from Rome to Understand Detroit
Rome’s deterioration from a third century city of more than 1,000,000 people started long before it was acknowledged. An unnoticed population drop to 800,000 was characterized by ever larger buildings of decreasing beauty and craft, including the huge Baths of Diocletian (298-306 CE). Anticipating barbarian invasion, Rome’s walls were built (271-275 CE). It was ransacked twice (410 and 455 CE).27
But as if in a dream, 5th century life of the diminishing but still substantial population continued as normal. Invading Goths maintained Rome’s Senate, taxes, and cops. But administrative and military infrastructure vaporized. An unraveling education system led to the rise of illiteracy. Noble families began using mob politics, economic and social linkages broke down, travel and transportation became unsafe, and manufacturing collapsed.28
By 500 CE, Rome had less than 100,000 people. Systematic agriculture disappeared, and much land returned to forest. The Pope and nobility pillaged abandoned public buildings for their materials. The expansive city was reduced to small groups of inhabited buildings, interspersed among large areas of abandoned ruins and overgrown vegetation. In the 12th and 13th centuries the population of Rome was possibly as few as 20,000 people.29
The long journey from first cities, to Ancient Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages, through Paris, Washington, and Shanghai, helps us understand how our cities might end up. Holding Rome up to the mirrors of history reads like backcasting Rome’s decline and survival in a Muddling Through scenario from today’s view. Halal predicted that muddling would start about 2023 to 2027 and that if we weren’t muddling by then, collapse would set in by 2029.30
Detroit started muddling in 1968. New York proved to be a fragile city during blackouts, as did Dubai in its 2009 financial crisis. Since the 1970s, most of America’sten “dead cities,” many formerly among its largest and most vibrant, came disturbingly close to being feral. The overlapping invisibilities of heavily armed warlords and brutal police, make the favelas of Medellin and Rio de Janeiro virtually feral.31
Today we are at a tipping point. We can wait for the collapse of systems to reach homeostasis or attain it intentionally by applying Classic Planning principles.32
If you enjoyed this post, please also see Dr. Buras’ other posts:
Nir Buras is a PhD architect and planner with over 30 years of in-depth experience in strategic planning, architecture, and transportation design, as well as teaching and lecturing. His planning, design and construction experience includes East Side Access at Grand Central Terminal, New York; International Terminal D, Dallas-Fort-Worth; the Washington DC Dulles Metro line; work on the US Capitol and the Senate and House Office Buildings in Washington. Projects he has worked on have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, local newspapers, and trade magazines. Buras, whose original degree was Architect and Town planner, learned his first lesson in urbanism while planning military bases in the Negev Desert in Israel. Engaged in numerous projects since then, Buras has watched first-hand how urban planning impacted architecture. After the last decade of applying in practice the classical method that Buras learned in post-doctoral studies, his book, *The Art of Classic Planning* (Harvard University Press, 2019), presents the urban design and planning method of Classic Planning as a path forward for homeostatic, durable urbanism.
1 Population growth, clean water, compromised resilience of infrastructures, drug-resistant microbes, pandemics, possible famine, authoritarian regimes, social breakdowns, terrestrial cataclysms, terrorist mischief, nuclear mishaps, perhaps major war, inequity, education and healthcare collapse, climate change, ecological devastation, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, world confusion, institutional gridlock, failures of leadership, failure to cooperate. Sources include: Glenn, Jerome C., Theodore J. Gordon, Elizabeth Florescu, 2013-14 State of the Future Millennium Project: Global Futures Studies and Research, Millennium-project.org (website), Washington, DC, 2014; Cutter, S. L. et al., Urban Systems, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability, in Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment, in Melillo, J. M. et al., (eds.), U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2014, Ch. 11, pp. 282-296; Kaminski, Frank, A review of James Kunstler’s The Long Emergency 10 years later, Mud City Press (website), Eugene, OR, 9 March 2015; Urban, Mark C., Accelerating extinction risk from climate change, Science Magazine, Vol. 348, Issue 6234, 1 May 2015, pp. 571-573; Kunstler, J.H., Clusterfuck Nation: A Glimpse into the Future, Kunstler.com (website), 2001b; US Geological Survey, Materials Flow and Sustainability, Fact Sheet FS-068-98, June 1998; Klare, M. T., The Race for What’s Left, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2012; Drielsma, Johannes A. et al., Mineral resources in life cycle impact assessment – defining the path forward, International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 21 (1), 2016, pp. 85-105; Meinert, Lawrence D. et al., Mineral Resources: Reserves, Peak Production and the Future, Resources 5(14), 2016; OECD World Nuclear Agency and International Atomic Energy Agency, 2004; Tahil, William, The Trouble with Lithium Implications of Future PHEV Production for Lithium Demand, Meridian International Research, 2007; Turner, Graham, Cathy Alexander, Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse, Guardian, Manchester, 1 September 2014; Kelemen, Peter, quoted in Cho, Renee, Rare Earth Metals: Will We Have Enough?, in State of the Planet, News from the Earth Institute, Earth Institute, Columbia University, September 19, 2012; Griffiths, Sarah, The end of the world as we know it? CO2 levels to reach a ‘tipping point’ on 6 June – and Earth may never recover, expert warns, Daily Mail, London, 12 May 2016; van der Werf, G.R. et al., CO2 emissions from forest loss, Nature Geoscience, Volume 2, November 2009, pp. 737–738; Global Deforestation, Global Change Program, University of Michigan, January 4, 2006; Arnell, Nigel, Future worlds: a narrative description of a plausible world following climate change, Met Office, London, 2012; The End, Scientific American, Special Issue, Sept 2010; Dator, Jim, Memo on mini-scenarios for the pacific island region, 3, November, 1981b, quoted in Bezold, Clement, Jim Dator’sAlternative Futures and the Path to IAF’s Aspirational Futures, Journal of Futures Studies, 14(2), November 2009, pp. 123 – 134.
2 Halal, William, Through the megacrisis: the passage to global maturity, Foresight Journal, VOL. 15 NO. 5, 2013a, pp. 392-404; Halal, William E., and Michael Marien, Global MegaCrisis Four Scenarios, Two Perspectives, The Futurist, Vol. 45, No. 3, May-June 2011; Halal, William E., Forecasting the technology revolution: Results and learnings from the TechCast project, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80.8, 2013b, pp. 1635-1643; TechCast Project, George Washington University, TechCast.org (website), Washington, DC, N.D.; National Research Council, Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies—Report 2, The National Academies Press, Washington, DC,2010. Halal, William E., Technology’s Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business and Society, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2008; Halal et al., The GW Forecast of Emerging Technologies, Technology Forecasting & Social Change, Vol. 59, 1998, pp. 89-110. The name was inspired by the oracle at Delphi (8th century BCE to 390 CE). The modern Delphi Method helps uncover data, and collect and distill the judgments of experts using rounds of questionnaires, interspersed with feedback. Each round is developed based on the results of the previous, until the research question is answered, a consensus is reached, a theoretical saturation is achieved, or sufficient information was exchanged. Linstone, Harold A., & Murray Turoff (eds.), The Delphi method: Techniques and applications, Addinson-Wesley, London, 1975; Halal, William E., Business Strategy for the Technology Revolution: Competing at the Edge of Creative Destruction, Journal of Knowledge Economics, Springer Science+Business Media, New York, September 2012. The author consolidated both of Halal and Marien muddling scenarios into one. The uncertainty of each particular forecast element was about 20% – 30 %.
4 Chan, Tony, in Reubold, Todd, Envision 2050: The Future of Cities, Ensia.com (website), 16 June, 2014; Kunstler, James Howard, Back to the Future, Orion Magazine, June 23, 2011. Urry, John et al., Living in the City, Foresight, Government Office for Science, London, 2014; Hoff, Mary, Envision 2050: The Future of Transportation, Ensia.com (website), 31 March, 2014.
5 Kaku, Michio, The World in 2100, New York Post, New York, 20 March 2011. Tonn, Bruce E., LeCorbusier Meets the Jetsons in Anytown U.S.A. in the Year 2050: Glimpses of the Future, Planning Forum, Community and, Regional Planning, Volume 8, School of Architecture, The University of Texas, Austin, 2002; Urry et al., 2014.
6 Kaku, 2011; Hon, 2016. Rubbish bins will send alarms when they are about full. Talking garbage bins will reward people with poems, aphorisms, and songs for placing street rubbish in the bin. Heinonen, 2013.
8 Heinonen, 2013. The prefix cy*, an abbreviation of cybernetics, relates to computers and virtual reality. The suffix *burg means city, fortified town. Urrutia, Orlando, Eco-Cybernetic City of the Future, Pacebutler.com (website), 12 February 2010; Tonn, 2002.
9 Shepard, M., Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, And The Future of Urban Space. MIT Press, Cambridge, 2011; Kurzweil, Ray, The Singularity is Near, Penguin Group, New York, 2005. Some futurists predict that the energy required to keep a “global brain” operating may so deplete energy that it will bankrupt society and cause total collapse. Heinonen, 2013. The terms smart city, intelligent city, and digital city are sometimes synonymous, but the digital or intelligent city is considered heavily technological. Heinonen, 2013; Giffinger, Rudolf et al., Smart cities – Ranking of European medium-sized cities. Centre of Regional Science, Vienna UT, October 2007; Kaku, 2011; Vermesan, Ovidiu and Friess, Peter, Internet of Things: Converging Technologies for Smart Environments and Integrated Ecosystems, River Publishers, Aalborg DK, 2013; Cooper, G., Using Technology to Improve Society, The Guardian, Manchester, 2010; Heinonen, 2013. Typical smart city programs utilize traffic data visualization, smart grids, smart water and e-government solutions, The Internet, smartphones, inexpensive sensors, and mobile devices. Amsterdam, Dubai, Cairo, Edinburg, Malaga, and Yokohama have smart city schemes. Webb, Molly et al., Information Marketplaces: The New Economics of Cities, The Climate Group, ARUP, Accenture and The University of Nottingham, 2011.
10 Dator, 2002; Bezold, 2009. The Jetsons originally ran a single season in 1962-63. It was revived but not resuscitated in 1985. The term Jetsons today stands for “unlikely, faraway futurism.” Novak, Matt, 50 Years of the Jetsons: Why The Show Still Matters, Smithsonian.Com, 19 September 2012.
11 Perrow, Charles, Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies, Basic Books, New York, 1984. By adding complexity, including conventional engineering warnings, precautions, and safeguards, systems failure not only becomes inevitable, but it may help create new categories of accidents, such as those of Bhopal, the Challenger disaster, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. Deconcentrating high-risk populations, corporate power, and critical infrastructures is suggested. Perrow, Charles, The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2011; Turner, 2014; Jacobs, Jane, Dark Age Ahead, Random House, New York, 2004, p.24.
12 Jacobs, 2004; Dirda, Michael, A living urban legend on the sorry way we live now, Washington Post, Washington DC, 6 June, 2004; Dator, 2002; Bezold, 2009; Dator, James, Alternative futures & the futures of law, in Dator, James & Clement Bezold (eds.), Judging the future, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1981. pp.1-17; Halal, 2013b.
13 The term feral city was coined in Norton, Richard J., Feral Cities, Naval War College Review, Vol. LVI, No. 4, Autumn 2003. See also Brunn, Stanley D. et al., Cities of the World: World Regional Urban Development, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2003, pp. 5–14, chap. 1.
15 Urry, J., Offshoring. Polity, Cambridge, 2014; Gallopin, G., A. Hammond, P. Raskin, R. Swart, Branch Points, Global Scenario Group, Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, 1997, p. 34. Norton, 2003.
17Backcasting is future hindsight. Kilcullen, David, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013.
18Heterotopia, in Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things, Vintage Books, New York, 1971; Foucault, M., Of Other Spaces, Diacritics 16, 1986, pp. 22-27. Girard, Greg, and Ian Lambot, City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City, Watermark, Chiddingfold, 1993, 2007, 2014; Tan, Aaron Hee-Hung, Kowloon Walled City: Heterotopia in a Space of Disappearance (Master’s Thesis), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1993; Sinn, Elizabeth, Kowloon Walled City: Its Origin and Early History (PDF). Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27, 1987, pp. 30–31; Harter, Seth, Hong Kong’s Dirty Little Secret: Clearing the Walled City of Kowloon, Journal of Urban History 27, 1, 2000, pp. 92-113; Grau, Lester W. and Geoffrey Demarest, Diehard Buildings: Control Architecture a Challenge for the Urban Warrior, Military Review, Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, September / October 2003; Kunstler, James Howard, A Reflection on Cities of the Future, Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, 28 September, 2006; ArenaNet Art Director Daniel Dociu wins Spectrum 14 gold medal!, Guild Wars.com (website), 9 March 2007. Authors, game designers, and filmmakers used the Walled City to convey a sense of feral urbanization. It was the setting for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 1988 film Bloodsport; Jackie Chan’s 1993 film Crime Story was partly filmed there during among genuine scenes of building demolition; and the video game Shadowrun: Hong Kong features a futuristic Walled City. Today the location of the former Kowloon Walled City is occupied by a park modelled on early Qing Dynasty Jiangnan gardens.
19 Halal, 2013a; Wright, Austin Tappan, Islandia, Farrar & Rinehart, New York, Toronto, 1942; Tonn, Bruce E., Anytown U.S.A. in the Year 2050: Glimpses of the Future, Planning Forum, Community and, Regional Planning, Volume 8, School of Architecture, The University of Texas, Austin, 2002; Porritt, Jonathon, The World We Made: Alex McKay’s Story from 2050, Phaidon Press, London, 2013. World Made by Hand novels by James Howard Kunstler: World Made By Hand, Grove Press, New York, 2008; The Witch of Hebron, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010; A History of the Future, Atlantic Monthly, 2014; The Harrows of Spring, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2016
21 Dator, 2002; Bezold, 2009; Dator & Bezold, 1981; Dator, 1981a; Dator, 1981b; Dator, James, The Unholy Trinity, Plus One (Preface), Journal of Futures Studies, University of Hawaii, 13(3), February 2009, pp. 33 – 48; McDonough, William & Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, Macmillan, New York, 2002; Porritt, 2013; Urry et al., 2014.
22 Wright, 1942; Kunstler, 2011; Givens, Mark, Bring It On Home: An Interview with James Howard Kunstler, Urban Landscapes and Environmental Psychology, Mung Being (website), Issue 11, N.D., p. 30; Kunstler, World Made by Hand series.
23 Tonn, 2002; Mollison, B. C. Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual. Tagari Publications, Tyalgum, Australia, 1988; Holmgren, D. and B. Mollison, Permaculture One, Transworld Publishers, Melbourne, 1978; Holmgren, D., Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability, Holmgren Design Services, Hepburn, Victoria, Australia, 2002; Holmgren, David, Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adopt to Peak Oil and Climate Change, Chelsea Green Publishing White River Junction, Vermont, 2009; Walker, L., Eco-Village at Ithaca: Pioneering a Sustainable Culture, New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, 2005; Hopkins, R., The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, Green Books, Totnes, Devon, 2008; Urry et al., 2014; Porritt, 2013.
24 Urry et al., 2014; Porritt, 2013; Caletrío, Javier, “The world we made. Alex McKay’s story from 2050” by Jonathon Porritt (review), Mobile Lives Forum, forumviesmobiles.org (website), 21 May 2015.
27 Krautheimer, Richard, Rome: Profile of A City, 312-1308, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1980.
28 Palmer, Ada, The Shape of Rome, exurbe.com (website), Chicago, 15 August 2013.
29 Procopius of Caesarea, (c.490/507- c.560s) Procopius, Dewing, H B., and Glanville Downey (trans), Procopius, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000.On the Wars in eight books(Polemon or De bellis) waspublished 552, with an addition in 554; Storey, Glenn R., The population of ancient Rome, Antiquity, December 1, 199; Wickham, Chris, Medieval Rome: Stability and Crisis of a City, 900-1150, Oxford Studies in Medieval European History, Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford, 2015. Population numbers are uncertain well into the Renaissance. Krautheimer, 1980.
30 Porritt, 2013; Alexander, Samuel, Resilience through Simplification: Revisiting Tainter’s Theory of Collapse, Simplicity Institute Report, Melbourne (?), 2012b; Palmer, 2013: Halal, 2013a, 2013b.
31 America’s “Ten Dead Cities” in 2010: Buffalo; Flint; Hartford; Cleveland; New Orleans; Detroit; Albany; Atlantic City; Allentown, and Galveston. McIntyre, Douglas A., America’s Ten Dead Cities: From Detroit to New Orleans, 24/7 Wall Street (website), 23 August, 2010; Gibson, Campbell, Population of The 100 Largest Cities And Other Urban Places In The United States: 1790 To 1990, Population Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC, June 1998. See also “America’s 150 forgotten cities.” Hoyt, Lorlene and André Leroux, Voices from Forgotten Cities Innovative Revitalization Coalitions in America’s Older Small Cities, MIT, Cambridge, MA, 2007; Manaugh, Geoff, Cities Gone Wild, Bldgblog.com (website), 1 December 2009.
32 Buras, Nir, The Art of Classic Planning for Beautiful and Enduring Communities, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2019.