The Convergence - An Army Mad Scientist Podcast

26. Changing Mindsets for the Future with Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos

The Convergence - An Army Mad Scientist Podcast
26. Changing Mindsets for the Future with Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos

Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos is the Science and Technology subject matter expert at the U.S. Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM’s) Joint Special Operations University where she is working on developing technology related education for the Special Operations Force Professional.  Previously, she was a Strategy and Innovation Advisor conducting forecasting work on technology and the future operating environment for the J5 at USSOCOM. She has addressed the United Nations member states at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts (CCW GGE) meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) and participates in NATO Science for Peace projects. Check out her website at and follow her on Twitter at

In today’s podcast, Dr. Kostopoulos discusses the future of competition and conflict and steps the Army can take in preparing for it.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview with her:

  • I think about the future from a point of tech abundancy.  If you think about the availability, accessibility, and benefits of emerging technologies, you can study the flip side of this to identify the associated threats. Examples include the use of technologies by protestors or the use of drones and loitering munitions in small conflicts like Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • There is no shared reality of what competition and conflict is or will look like. In a recent speech, LTG (R) McMaster said that we needed “more strategic empathy” and “less strategic narcissism.” This isn’t about preparing for the war we want to fight because our adversaries will probably not provide us that opportunity.
  • You see this difference in the view of future warfare by studying the growing role of the cyber threat spaceOur adversaries seek to influence and attain their objectives in the competition and crisis phases via Information Operations. They are more focused on limiting our C4ISR and less on big platform conflict.
  • This threat to our C4ISR capabilities and the speed of the future battlefield means we will have to find ways to preserve decision space for our political and military leaders.
  • We need to focus on gaining a competitive advantage in situational understanding and rapidly conveying this information to our leaders.
  • Emerging technologies like hypersonic weapons present additional challenges, making it difficult to manage escalation and political off ramps. Eventually they might gain the same deterrent value as nuclear weapons.
  • The stress of speed, time, and decision making will impact our cognitive capabilities. Improving human performance will become a critical aspect of preparing for future conflict. This will start with diet and sleep to build neuro protection.
  • What is the U.S. Army missing? The focus on reducing bureaucracy and the opportunity to improve/change decision processes and doctrine to be more resilient on this faster battlefield. I recently heard a senior leader state, “Never too Senior to be wrong!” and “Never too Junior to have the best idea!
  • What keeps me up at night? Lack of imagination and resistance to change


Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of “The Convergence,” featuring Dr. David Kilcullen, bestselling author, leading researcher in the field of unconventional and guerrilla warfare, former professional soldier and diplomat, and President and CEO of Cordillera Applications Group, on 21 January 2021! Dr. Kilcullen will discuss the future of conflict, changing concepts of victory, and achieving decisive advantages.

Brought to you by The Army Mad Scientist Initiative of The Convergence - An Army Mad Scientist Podcast