The Promise of Technology Propelling Our Digital Landscape
We have entered a new era of emerging and hyper “connected” technologies that blend engineering, computing algorithms, and culture. This journey for civilization will be characterized by exponential technological innovation. It is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of scientific and technological advancements that will change the human condition.
The connected computing elements of the digital ecosystem, enabled by machine learning and artificial intelligence, will harbor many new capabilities. This technology convergence will be immensely impactful to most every industry. Human/computer interface via neuromorphic computing will extend our human brain capacities, memories, and capabilities. Google futurist Ray Kurzweil at a conference on how the world will look in 2045, stated that humankind will “expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold” and noted that the power of computing doubles, on average, every two years.
These connected technology tools can be stepping-stones to a new world in diverse areas such as genetic engineering, augmented reality, robotics, renewable energies, big data, digital security, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But building a path will require strong partnerships and public/private cooperation.
The Role Of Academia
Higher education has the significant role of training minds, especially through stem and science and engineering coursework to build a next generation workforce. Numerous universities and colleges have invested in research and development in and have successfully commercialized technologies. Many of the world’s leading academic institutions including MIT, Cal Tech, University of Chicago, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and dozens of others have contributed significantly to the creation of breakthrough technologies through basic and applied research. They have also created a pipeline of scientists, engineers, and cybersecurity practitioners.
Specially In my role as a professor at Georgetown University in the Cybersecurity Graduate Cybersecurity Risk Management program, I teach a course in the Graduate Cyber Risk Management program on Disruptive Technologies and Organizational Management. The course was designed to provide foundational knowledge about types, policy, strategies, applications, organizational & societal impact, security risks, and current management approaches related to emerging and disruptive technologies. Master’s in Cybersecurity Risk Management | Georgetown SCS
This is the kind of program where academia, in addition to research, can facilitate enabling the next generation of leaders to assume the helm over the management of emerging tech. They can also instill students with the ethical frameworks to direct proper use of innovation, especially regarding controlling artificial intelligence.
As the development of innovative technologies continues to grow rapidly and globally, technology foraging will become more valuable as a resource for technology foraging adapting to the rapidly changing cybersecurity threat landscape. There are many innovative technologies and applications that have yet to be discovered or rediscovered. Government, industry, and academia need to continue investing and expanding cooperation in the evolving digital arena to meet the many challenges ahead to improve our lives and help keep us safe.
The US Government’s Role In Preparing For The Tech Future
The development and procurement of emerging technologies is being institutionalized throughout government, particularly in national security areas. A strategy document developed by the National Security Council, called the National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies, promotes public/private partnerships to bring commercial best practices and models to prototype and assimilate emerging science & technologies and welcomes guidance from industry, think tanks, and academia. It also recognized the need for robust R&D spending in agency federal budgets. It is an adaptive and living document.
There is an interesting breakdown of tech categories. Specifically, the first version of the document provides a list of 20 critical technologies. These include:
· Advanced computing
· Advanced conventional weapons technologies
· Advanced engineering materials
· Advanced manufacturing
· Advanced sensing
· Aero-engine technologies
· Agricultural technologies
· Artificial intelligence
· Autonomous systems
· Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear mitigation technologies
· Communication and networking technologies
· Data science and storage
· Distributed ledger technologies
· Energy technologies
· Human-machine interfaces
· Medical and public health technologies
· Quantum information science
· Semiconductors and microelectronics
· Space technologies
· The Department of Defense
The 20 critical technologies provide a comprehensive list of what is on the future research agenda.
On the civilian side of the US government, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) engages in many areas of emerging technology development, primarily via the Science and Technology Directorate. DHS S&T works closely in areas of technology foraging with the DOE National Labs and Federally Funded research and Development Centers (FFRDC’s). These include some of our nation’s most recognized national Labs including Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, Argonne, Sandia, Idaho National laboratory, Battelle, and Brookhaven. DHS S&T also works with many universities fostering innovation via Centers for Excellence.
Industry’s Contribution To Innovating Technologies
While government certainly has a vital role to play in the discovery and commercialization of modern technologies it does need industry as a key partner. The Internet was invented in a government laboratory, but it was the corporate vision that had it commercialized and institutionalized. It is a notable example of how the public and private sectors can work as partners in innovation and advance a new era of social and technological change.
Industry conducts research & development in many diverse areas such as genetic engineering, augmented reality, robotics, renewable energies, big data, digital security, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. They often use a foundry model of cooperation with partners that catalyzes more rapid innovations for commercialization.
Industry also offers a playbook for successful innovation through lessons-learned and best practices. They can balance costs and benefits — a skill learned from the necessity of competitive markets where budgets are connected to solutions.
Innovation also needs industry investments and talented people to bring technological development to fruition. There are many equity funds, venture capital groups, and grant programs available to assist start-ups and facilitate modern technologies solutions. Organizations are also playing a role. The World Business Angels Investment Forum, an affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, is a good example of an organization committed to collaborating globally to empower the economic development by fostering innovative financial instruments for startups, scaleups, innovators, entrepreneurs, and SMEs.
Defending the Digital Landscape; Cybersecurity
While the digital landscape will harvest many benefits and exciting innovations, it also brings some risks. The digital ecosystem is one of the largest innovation risks and poses challenges. Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, Machine learning & artificial intelligence, and 5G are creating operational shifts that require new and more robust cybersecurity strategies. All these industries operate digitally and therefore can be breached.
In the past few years, a tense geopolitical environment and evolving technology have rapidly increased the complexity of cybersecurity risks and their global implications. The digital attack surface has vastly expanded from the transitions by many companies and organizations to remote work, and from more interconnectivity of PCs and smart devices coming online from around the globe. For many companies and institutions, the overall IT perimeter is now more complex and dispersed with on-premises systems, cloud, and edge computing that necessitates more visibility, and a need for better threat detection, analysis, and incident response.
For cybersecurity, success in defending networks is dependent on information sharing, planning, investment in emerging technologies, and allocation of resources. A successful framework needs to be facilitated by industry, government, and the academic sectors and fulfilled by special working partnerships to help mitigate threats and create new security solutions. Collaboration is essential. The cornerstone of collaboration is based on knowledge transfer; sharing of research tools, methodologies, and findings; and sometimes combining mutual funding resources to meet shortfalls necessary to build prototypes and commercialize technologies.
Cybersecurity is not just a cost item for the C-Suite, in our era of hyper exponential digital connectivity, any company’s operations, brand, reputation, and revenue pipelines are at risk. Cybercrime is rampant and everyone is a target. The research firm Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that global cybercrime costs to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion USD annually by 2025. Cybersecurity Ventures also states that the current state of cyber-breaches is costing the global economy over $6 trillion.
The Cyber Workforce Challenge
Exacerbating the cybersecurity challenge is the global dearth of qualified cybersecurity workers and expertise available to help defend the data at risk. The cybersecurity worker shortage continues to pose major challenges for both the public and private sectors. Both the public and private sectors are facing challenges from a dearth of cybersecurity talent. According to (ISC)2 2022 workforce study, there was a need for more than 3.4 million security professionals in 2022, an increase of over 26% from 2021’s numbers.
Academia has always worked closely with those sectors and is collaborating more with the private sector to develop intellectual property, and especially innovative algorithms for cybersecurity. A growing trend for many leading companies is to include universities as partners in creating technology specific innovation centers, labs, and foundries to accelerate collaboration and invention. But higher education’s primary role is training future workers who understand technology trends, innovation, and security & risk.
The critical importance of continuing the strengthening the cybersecurity workforce spelled out by Cyberspace Solarium Commission Co-Chairs Senator Angus King (I-ME) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI).
“Without talented cyber professionals working the keyboard, all the cutting-edge technology in the world cannot protect the United States in cyberspace. If we do not act now to ensure that our talented and experienced workforce continues to grow, we are leaving our country vulnerable to future cyber-attacks.”
Common cornerstones of the cybersecurity workforce enactments and mission are public/private partnering and collaboration, retooling and upskilling of employees, and identifying future workforce needs.
To build the cybersecurity workforce, more needs to be done to attract women to the cybersecurity mission and more programs are needed to reskill veterans to help fill gaps. It would also be prudent if a considerable effort were made by industry, academia, and governments to cultivate the next generation of cybersecurity technicians and data analysts from many economically depressed areas, including investment and training Native Americans who have a long tradition of serving national security in government.
It is evident that science and technology will continue to pave our paths at an increasingly rapid rate and the entrepreneurial system will play an integral role in innovating that future. For companies that want to excel in the new digital economy, the business objectives of reliability, quality, cost-efficiency, are integral to success. How we harness technology for good and train workers is dependent on coordination from academia, government, and industry. Cooperating is key not just in creating and steering emerging tech but building the ethical frameworks around it.
And a critical component to the new technological era is protecting businesses and institutions operating in the increasingly dangerous hyper-connected digital threat landscape. For civilization to thrive, cybersecurity will need to be woven throughout that ecosystem to offset those cyber threats. And together academia, industry, and government need to create lasting partnerships to help secure that digital future.
Chuck Brooks is a globally recognized thought leader and subject matter expert Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. Chuck is an Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University’s Graduate Cybersecurity Risk Management Program where he has taught courses on risk management, emerging technologies, and cybersecurity. LinkedIn named Chuck as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn.” He was named “Cybersecurity Person of the Year for 2022” by The Cyber Express, and as one of the world’s “10 Best Cyber Security and Technology Experts” by Best Rated, as a “Top 50 Global Influencer in Risk, Compliance,” by Thompson Reuters, “Best of The Word in Security” by CISO Platform, and by IFSEC, and Thinkers 360 as the “#2 Global Cybersecurity Influencer.” He was featured in the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Onalytica “Who’s Who in Cybersecurity” He was also named one of the Top 5 Executives to Follow on Cybersecurity by Executive Mosaic, He is also a Cybersecurity Expert for “The Network” at the Washington Post, Visiting Editor at Homeland Security Today, Expert for Executive Mosaic/GovCon, Contributor to SkyTop Media, and a Contributor to FORBES.