Disruptive Futures: Nuclear Weapons Summit 2016

A SNAPSHOT: What has happened since December?

Mareena Robinson, Ph.D.  – Fellow
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Mareena writes “Since the Disruptive Futures Summit, I successfully defended my PhD on May 31, 2017 in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT. Since my defense, I have been working as an NNSA Graduate Fellow in Defense Programs. During this one-year fellowship, I hope to gain additional insight into our stockpile modernization plans, and leverage this government experience in my next professional step – currently to be defined.
I have remained in contact with a number of people from the cohort. I connected with Paul Carroll, Elizabeth Talerman, Erika Gregory and Jake Levin while in DC at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy conference in March 2017, where we continued to discuss ideas about nuclear security and information access. I am looking forward to hopefully seeing them, and Leetha Filderman this month at PopTech.”

Farshad Farahat – Actor
Farshad writes “We at Ploughshares Fund are working to promote deescalation and diplomacy regarding the nuclear issue with North Korea. We are also working to maintain the Iran Deal.  I have been in touch with Chris Diehl, Thomas Weis and Jake Levin. We hope to collaborate and broaden our networks on the nuclear issue.”

Chris Diehl – Data Scientist

After 9 months of fits and starts as a part-time “engager” on the topic of Nuclear Weapons, Chris has been collaborating with Sunny Dooley, Tom Weis, and Lovely Umayam to approach the topic from “outside the tribe”.  He is optimistic that there is progress to be made in this tertiary space that is focused on less technical aspects of the nuclear debate.

Bruce Lowry – Director of Policy & Advocacy

Bruce reports that he is continuing to fund/engage with N Square in its efforts to bring new players into the nuclear space.

Sunny Dooley – Storyteller, folklorist and cultural consultant
Sunny writes, “Since November Chris, Lovely and I have kept a conversation going about many things in general.  I am not sure how all this talk evolved into having the Miss Navajo Council, INC, of which I am vice president of, come to host a two day event: Elemental Talks & Dialogue on Land, Water, Air, and Fire in Window Rock, AZ on October 30 and 31.  Along with Chris and Lovely, their will be 16 other individuals addressing pressing issues related to Land, Water, Air and Fire.”

Eric Kingsbury – Futurist, Senior Manager, Global Fraud + Identity Solutions
Eric reports, “Since the Disruptive Futures summit, I have worked on several foresight-oriented projects through new and ongoing affiliations. Since January, I have been working with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) as part of their Strategic Futures Council, and since August as part of their Innovation Committee… Additionally, I have been leading a team working for UNICEF on a foresight game. In this work, we developed a futures-oriented board game that will be included in October in a substantial research program in Tajikistan to assess views of the future among adolescents 12-16 years of age.  Since July, I’ve been working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as part of their Horizons Scanning Team…. I also still lead the AZ chapter of the World Future Society, where we have had sessions on The Future of War, Future Consciousness, Science Fiction, Blockchain/Cryptocurrencies, and more.”

Rachel Staley Grant – Director of Public Education
NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative)

Rachel writes, “In January NTI brought Washington D.C.-based cohort members together for a dinner to reflect on the summit and start thinking about the new year. NTI became a member of the World Future Society, and we also continued to engage with Elizabeth Talerman about her research to engage with millennials…The research and follow-up discussions have helped shape some public engagement work this year, including our Back-to-School campaign for professors and students. Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz joined NTI as a new CEO in June 2017, and we are looking forward to expanding our work to address WMD dangers under his leadership. Additionally, NTI reached a major milestone in August with the launch of the IAEA low enriched uranium (LEU) bank in Kazakhstan. This Bank was jump-started by NTI more than a decade ago with an investment of $50 million from Warren Buffet. The LEU bank creates an important option for countries that want the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy, without the significant costs of uranium enrichment and without the risks of proliferation.”

Joseph Kelly – Director of HiveMind
Joseph writes, “Dear Cohort, Since the Disruptive Futures Conference, I have been focused on the existential threat of Climate Change. My company HiveMind has been busy working with Cummins Diesel Company building mycelium inoculated green roofs on top of their factories in the United Kingdom and Germany to sequester atmospheric carbon. We are also working with the authors of Drawdown (The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming) to get the word out about possible solutions.”

Tom Weis – Professor of Industrial Design

Tom reports, “I’m hosting a joint workshop between West Point cadets and my class the next two days so there has been a lot of planning going into it.  I spent the summer working on the curriculum development of the course and Nsquare sponsored me, so it was great to really dive in and learn more about the topic. I’ve already had Lovely and Laicie come to my class and it’s been fantastic. Chris and I talk regularly and Brian Payne is going to be documenting the work my students do. Leetha and I talk on a regular basis as she has been very supportive of the work I’m doing as well.
I’ve also met lots of other nuclear experts that have been advising and will participate in my course.”

Laicie Heeley – Fellow

Laicie reports, “Since Santa Fe, I’ve been hard at work on the website Inkstick(which launched last Wednesday!) and a forthcoming podcast, Things That Go Boom, with PRI. The direction of each was certainly helped along by the inspiring work we did together in Santa Fe, and I hope to be able to share some of the stories we heard. I also hope to have the chance to interview some of the members of the group. I’ll be interviewing Tom Weis this week, and Lovely is on my editorial board! I’m also excited to speak at a special screening of The Bomb early next month hosted by N Square.”

Sherman Teichman – Senior Fellow
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL

Sherman writes, “I am now formally a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School…While my main emphasis will be on the nexus of corruption and human rights, I also ultimately hope to convince folks there to consider the threat of nuclear annihilation as the supreme “existentialist” human rights concern. I am also a non-resident Research Associate in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, in association with their Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. I will address the Centre’s interests on artificial intelligence, cyber, robotics, and nuclear, resonating the Pugwash Conferences ethos, probing the intersection of science, technology, ethics, and international security…I will continue this work as Senior Fellow for the Liechtenstein Institute of Strategic Development, where I will buttresses the LISD Academic Academy outreach on global urban, sustainability and environmental concerns. At LISD, the environmental aspects of nuclear issues and nuclear energy are on my mind.”

Paul Carroll – Senior Advisor

Paul reports, “N Square has been doing a lot!”

  • put together Lovely Umayam and Sunny Dooley to work on a film about the Navajo and uranium mining/legacy
  • increased our work with Tom Weis from RISD who is now teaching an industrial design course using a number of nuclear experts to present to students
  • continuing to use Elizabeth Talerman’s work broadly in the community to inject new messages and attitudes

Jake Levin – Chief Operating Officer

Jake reports, “We’re working on a few exciting new activations, from placing a Portal in Times Square, to a connection between senior UNICEF officials and an IDP camp in Iraq, to a Portal in Adelaide, Australia. We’re working to find support for a broad initiative to connect the 9 nuclear states around the world in live, full-body video conversations. We’re also working with researchers and activists in Seoul to connect North Korean defectors there with others in Los Angeles and London topics related to nuclear weapons, the politics of North Korea, and their lives now that they’ve left the country. Shared_Studioscontinues to seek opportunities that focus on reducing nuclear threat through live conversation and collaboration between distant locations and perspectives. I’ve worked directly with Chris Diehl, Tom Weis, Elizabeth Talerman, and Farshad Farahat on a few projects. We’ll have 30 permanent Portal installations around the world in the next 6 months, including Adelaide, Australia, Times Square, NYC, Málaga, Spain, Aden, Yemen, and Srinagar, Kashmir, India.”

Lovely Umayam – Fellow

Lovely writes, “Since the Summit in Santa Fe, I have been in touch with Sunny Dooley who initially invited me to her Elemental Talks and Dialogues event as keynote speaker to discuss my experience as a nuclear policy expert in DC. We continued to chat and ideate together, and we ended up developing a separate project that we are tentatively calling ‘Ways of Knowing’ which is a 360 virtual reality film/photo-essay/ long-form essay of retelling the uranium mining issue on Navajo land (please see below the project description – will release more information on Bombshelltoe website in a few weeks)… I have been speaking with Kate Folb from Hollywood, Health & Society about potentially having the film premier at the Lear Center… I have been engaged in a long running conversation with Chris Diehl on how to encourage out-of-the-box thinking in the nuclear arena; would like to keep him in the loop with Bombshelltoe-related activities as an advisor. As mentioned, I kicked-off Tom Weis’ design course on nuclear policy by introducing them to current nuclear challenges and the lack of public knowledge around these issues…”

Elizabeth Talerman – Fellow

Elizabeth reports, “Since leaving Santa Fe, we completed our first round of research that informed the creation of a messaging toolkit.  Designed to give practitioners across the nonproliferation, disarmament and arms control communities insight into Generation Possible, this toolkit provides insights and recommendations for more effective ways to engage new generations of problem-solvers to help solve this wicked problem….In collaboration with Populist, we were awarded a MacArthur grant this summer which will allow us to continue our research into ways to engage a new generation of bright minds in building innovative approaches to eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons.  With the grant we are embarking on a study to understand how concerns about nuclear threat connect with this younger generation’s concerns around environmental, economic and social justice. Our work with N Square continues as a strategy and facilitation partner supporting their launch of the N Square Innovators Network. We have been working closely with The Stimson Center and Nuclear Threat Initiative to facilitate the creation of unifying language and ideology that will more closely knit the nonproliferation, disarmament, arms control and activists communities together to advance progress on our common cause…”

Jesse Guillén

Jesse wrote, “I’m still working for the City and sit on the board of SFCIR (Santa Fe Council of International Relations) where I am chair of the gala committee and I work on youth and young professional development.”

Kate Folb – Director

Kate has much to report! Here is her update:
Atomic Football: The Nuclear Playbook in a Strange New Era — HH&S hosted a panel event on January 25, 2017, at The Garland Theater in North Hollywood, CA. The presentations by panelists Valerie Plame, Dr. William PerryEric Schlosser, Eric Chien and Madam Secretary’s Barbara Hall and David Grae and discussion covered the current state of nuclear threats from Pakistan, Iran and in the U.S.  More than 100 television show writers and filmmakers from a range of more than 35 TV, cable and streaming networks, including CBS’s NCIS, ABC’s Designated Survivor, NBC’s Blindspot, PBS’s American Experience, HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Syfy’s Incorporated and Netflix as well as the screenwriter and producer of the upcoming film, The Price of Liberty, based on Dr. William Perry’s book.  Guests’ response included the following comments: “outstanding,” “insanely informative,” “impressive,” “fascinating,” “eye-opening,” “invaluable,” “sobering,” “chilling,” “terrifying” and “important.” …
Luncheon with Norman Lear – The afternoon following the Atomic Football event, members of N Square (Erika Gregory, Morgan Mathews, Paul Carroll), the Carnegie Foundation, Skoll Global Threats, HH&S and others lunched with Dr. William Perry, Eric Schlosser and TV icon Norman Lear, who committed to addressing the nuclear threat in the upcoming season of his Netflix show One Day at a Time.
A Visit with Lee Zlotoff – HH&S invited MacGyver creator, Lee Zlotoff, to visit the Norman Lear Center and meet with Lear Center and HH&S staff…
Briefings with TV shows — In July 2017, HH&S facilitated five briefings in the writers’ rooms of prime-time television shows bringing experts to speak with the shows’ writing teams about nuclear risks and answer questions about potential storylines. Erika Gregory of N Square brought the following experts participated in the meetings: Jeffrey Lewis (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey), Paul Carroll (N Square), Joe Cirincione (president of Ploughshares), Meredith Horowski (Global Zero) and futurist Jamais Cascio. The shows were: The Blacklist (NBC), Blindspot (NBC), Madam Secretary (CBS), with NCIS: LA (CBS) and MacGyver (CBS)…
Friday the 13th: Rewriting the Nuclear Horror Story — HH&S is organizing a panel discussion lunch event at the Writers Guild of America, East, in New York City on October, 13, 2017. Expert panelists are ex-CIA operative Valerie Plame, Theresa Hitchens (Center for International Security Studies, MD) and Alex Wellerstein (NUKEMAP)…
Inquiries: In addition to the five briefings, HH&S has completed 14 consultations with TV show writers on nuclear threats and cyber security.